Archive for August, 2009

Day 233. Egersund to Ystebo in Sokndal

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Distance 41km | Time 10hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 333.1 The coastline towards StapnesI left the campsite at Steinsnes at 0830 with all the promise of a good day. It was reasonably windstill as I paddled across the basin with the idyllic cabins on the island and under the railway bridge. There was a good current here from the river and it took me into Egersund sound. I continued south and went under the bridge connecting Eigeroy island to the mainland where there was a slight current against me.

It was about 6-7 km down the sound to Vibberodden lighthouse on the west of the sound on Eigeroy island. What I had seen yesterday in Egersund was a charming old centre. The industry was here. There was a large factory making trawling nets, a protein plant probably making fish food, many fish processing plants and also a large shipyard. This was the bread and butter of Egersund. The town itself was up an inlet from this more industrial sound.

Once I reached Vibberodden I reached the North Sea. There was no shelter here and the winds of the last few days had created quite a large swell. The more I paddled out towards the hamlet of Stapnes the large the waves became. In the end they were about 3 metres. The wind had also picked up and it was a force three now which was causing the odd white cap.

Day 333.2 The coast from Stapnes to Nesvag was wild and exposedAll along the coast here were knobbly crags and small cliffs rising out of the sea. The rock was still the light coloured anorthosite. As this large swell hit the base of the cliffs some of it crashed upwards in great plumes of spray while some of it rebounded back and caused some large clapotis and a lively lumpy sea.

About half way along the GPS stopped working. It was not picking up the satellites but the screen and map was OK. I looked briefly at it and could see water had got into the ‘waterproof’ terminals. It is a Garmin 60CSx. I never was that convinced by the rubber covers over the terminals so put waterproof tape over them. However after 3 months this tape must have leaked a bit. A battle with Garmin’s customer services awaits.

Day 333.3 The entrance to Nesvag harbour was behind a series of rocky islets with some narrow passagesI continued down past some spectacular outcrops and cliffs along this lonely unsheltered coast for a good 12 km from Stapnes with no possibility really of coming ashore except in an emergency. There were really very few sheltered spots until Nesvag. Here there was a bay with a string of rocky islands across the mouth. Between these islands the swell was squeezed into large steep waves at least 4 metres high. Once in the bay however it was surprisingly quiet.

Day 333.4 The old trading village of Sogndal-strand was renowned as a well preserved villageI pulled up but a floating jetty and looked at the GPS. It was indeed wet under the ‘waterproof’ terminal covers. I stripped everything off and laid it in the sun while I ate. Two older ladies came over and chatted. They told me about the next village Sogndal-strand and its old trading history and a German ship with 350 British prisoners on board in 1940. The British disabled the ship which hid in Jossingfjord. Apparently the prisoners escaped and were helped by the local population. Apparently this story so incensed Hitler he invaded Norway. The term ‘Jossing’ became synonymous with a patriot as opposed to a ‘Quisling’.

Day 333.5 The steep cliffs along the coast between Sogndal-strand and Ana-siri were impressiveWith the GPS dried and working I left the sunny shelter behind these islands and ventureD forth into the North Sea again. I soon reached Sogndal-strand and just poked my nose into the outer harbour of this town. It looked very quaint but I am sure the really old bits are around the inner harbour. I then crossed the very spectacular Jossingfjord. It was a deep slot which cut far into these white mountains. There was a quarry up the fjord and near the mouth was a small hamlet which clung to a flatter area at the foot of the cliffs. It really was a spectacular landscape.

Day 333.6 Looking down into the deep and steep JossingfjordI paddled on as I wanted to try and reach Hidra. However the waves and clapotis and perhaps a current conspired against me and I was only doing about 3.5 km. I passed a very lonely farm completely isolated by cliffs and coast and then noticed the skies started to darken. The swell was still large and the south west wind was still around force 3 and 4.

I approached the mouth of the where Ana-Siri lay and wanted to paddle on. Just offshore here was a large shoal called the Sirigrunnen. It was some 5-6 km long and 2 km wide and only about 10-15 metres deep. It was known for its dangerous waves as large swells reared up and toppled in here. I could see a couple of areas of heaving surf. However it was also one of the richest fishing grounds, for herring especially, in the North Sea apparently.

As I passed the entrance to the narrow fjord to Ana-siri the skies became very dark. It was about 1730. I was continuing along this dramatic coast when suddenly there was a flash and a loud thunder clap. This was followed but a few more and soon the wind whipped up to a force 6. I decided to head in for shelter. It was a wise decision.

For the next hour I fought to go just 2 km into the fjord. The wind was behind me, the large waves were behind me and becoming alarmingly steep but I was just not making much progress despite paddling hard. The lightning continued to flash and the thunder was very soon after it. There were two red lights on a pole beside the very narrow fjord.

I soon realized there was a very strong current against me. I could not work out why. I paddled hard and slowly the white houses of Ystebo were getting closer. After quite a struggle I rounded a rock and saw a breakwater on the west side. I paddled furiously towards it and slowly gained on it. I had been paddling hard for a good half hour now spurred on by the lightning. Just as I reached the breakwater the heavens opened. It was a tremendous downpour. The landscape was already exceptionally dramatic and with the thunder and lightning and now heavy rain it looked apocalyptic.

Day 333.7 After the thunderstorm at Ystebo looking into the steep fjord at Ana-siriI made it past the breakwater and saw some grass by some small jetties. I beached and dragged the kayak onto the drenched grass. This would do for a campspot in these circumstances. Just then a figure dashed to a boat and covered some sacks of cement with plastic. He then came over and with 30 seconds invited me in.

Half an hour later I was eating fresh crab dinner with Jan and Gunn Eide in a wonderful comfortable cabin on a well laid dining table. It was delicious. I was then invited to stay the night and poured a large cognac. It was utter luxury and all the more so as the thunderstorm was still continuing outside. We chatted, watched athletics, chatted more and even washed my cloths. Jan and Gunn Eide were successful retired farmers from Finnoy island near Stavanger and this was their cabin.

They had grown up children and one was married to an Englishman. There were lots of topics discussed and they were also fascinated with my journey. Apparently the current in the narrow fjord was caused by a hydro electric discharge. There were three turbines in all and these really made a current, but I only had two turbines against me. The red lights on the post I saw earlier indicated to the fisherman returning to Ana-siri harbour further up the fjord how many turbines were discharging. There was a red light for each of the three turbines.

They made up the spare bed and I slept in fresh cotton as the weather slowly improved. I had the window open just to hear the rain and revel in the fact I was supremely comfortable.

It was a very good day. The paddling was exciting, the scenery was exceptionally dramatic, especially in the thunderstorm and the Eide’s hospitality was just wonderful.

Day 232. Egersund weather and restday.

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Distance 0km | Time 0hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 232.1 One of the 150 year old streets in Egersund with original wooden houses on both sides.It was windy in the morning but nowhere as bad as the weather forecast predicted. I was in the mindset for a day off and decided I would rent as bicycle and go and explore the town of Egersund some 3 km to the south.

I left around 1100 and cycled down the road past the kayak and along the shore of the basin to the town. It was warm and quite humid. There was just enough wind to justify a day off, but I could have paddled if I wanted.

Once in Egersund I wandered around town for a couple of hours. There was an old centre with wooden houses in narrow streets which was built around the middle of the 1800’s after a fire had destroyed the more medieval town. It was very quaint and well preserved and was laid out in a grid pattern with leafy streets to act a fire breaks. These old houses housed some book shops, tourist shops and even a sports shop and hairdresser. I visited the hairdresser for a number 1.

Day 232.2 The old church in Egersund is over 200 years oldThere was a old church also in this quarter. Parts of this church date from 1620 but it was reconstructed in 1785. It is the towns’ oldest building. Egersund is quite a devout town and there are lots of different denominations here.

After that I visited an electrical store to buy an external hard drive to back up the writing and the photos. The laptop could not hold the 5000 photos I had and I only had them on the discs they were taken on. If the discs got wet I might lose the lot.

The lack of a strong wind made me feel a bit guilty all day as I sat in cafes and drank coffee, browsed through newspapers and otherwise acted as a tourist. Towards the end of the afternoon I went food shopping and bought enough for the next week.

While I was in the supermarket the forecast heavy rain arrived. I thought it would be a front but this was accompanied by thunder and lightning. It was very heavy and within minutes the streets were flowing. I had another coffee and waited for it to subside. I was not cycling in that unless I had too.

I did find out that the coastline Tom and I paddled down a couple of days ago was in fact anorthosite and not granite as I earlier stated. Anorthosite is relatively rare on earth but the moon is made of it. What happen here was that about a billion years ago a huge magma chamber was forced in the surrounding gneiss at a depth of some 20 km below the surface. This magma chamber was about 25-40 km in diameter and 7 km deep. As this silca rich magma slowly cooled the predominant crystals which formed were plagioclase and these constitute the anorthosite rock. This cooled, solidified chamber was then slowly forced up and the 20 km of rock which lay above it was eroded away exposing the anorthosite.

When the rain stopped I cycled back to the campsite with the supplies and set about backing up all the photos onto the new hard drive. This took good few hours. I finished just in time to go and have a salad at the café across the road. I did the bog that evening and am now ready to continue tomorrow whatever the weather.

Egersund was home to a large fishing fleet. This fleet relied heavily on the mackerel at this time of year. However unusually the mackerel did not come here this year but carried on up the coast due to currents and temperatures. As a consequence the fishing fleet has left Egersund and followed the mackerel up past Stavanger to Haugesund. So I saw no evidence of this large fishing fleet or industry here.

It had possibily been the most relaxing day this year. I just sauntered round the charming small town of Egersund as a tourist. I hope I don’t have to pay for it later with some long days to reach Oslo on the 6th September.

Day 231. Egersund weather and restday

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Distance 0km | Time 0hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

I was hopelessly behind with my blog and other work so I had had planned to catch up in Egersund and stay here until it was done. The weather forecast partly helped me make the decision as it was forecast for a force 6 today and a force 7 tomorrow on Thursday. I could have paddled today for a bit in the force 6 but would have probably called it off 8 km from here once I reached the exposed coast at Stapnes. I would then be cooped up in the tent as this windy, and tomorrow very wet also, weather passes through.

So today I got up at 0800 and went straight into the blog. I managed to get half of it done by 1100 when I had to move cabin. I had to move because the medium sized cabins were all booked for the night and I had to take a smaller one. It was a bit cheaper and had a marvelous view over the large rapids which the river tumbled down before entering the basin with the parkland covered island in it.

There was a good breeze blowing most of the day so I anticipate it would have been force 6 on the outer coast. I went for lunch at the café opposite the campsite.

The couple who owned the campsite were curious about my venture and tipped the local press. I was writing in the afternoon when the journalist showed up. We chatted for an hour in the cabin and I directed her to my website to get photos and more info.

In the late afternoon and early evening I pretty much relaxed and phoned a few people. I neurotically checked tomorrows forecast every hour or so. It seemed that the force 7 would materialize after all with some heavy rain showers. If this was the case it was pointless to leave here, so I will probably hire a bike from the campsite and go and explore Egersund and do some food shopping in town centre some 3 km away.

I am a bit concerned if I stay here tomorrow that I will only have paddled 2 days out of the last 6 but the longer term forecast looks more promising and I still have good time to reach Oslo on the 6th as long as there is not a sequence of gales.

It was a blog day. They are usually rather boring and tedious with little excitement. Sometimes the creativity offset the tedium; but it did not today. Only 18 days left to Oslo now.

Day 230. Hatangen in Ha to Egersund

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Distance 40km | Time 7.5hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

I had arranged to meet Tom Amundsen today. He would start paddling from Egersund, where I anticipated finishing today, and he would paddle north to meet me around Sirevag and then we would continue together to Egersund. We had spoken about leaving our starting points around 1000. However when I looked out at the sea at 0700 I thought twice about it. It was a good force 5, if not 6, and the sea was full of white horses. However, as the morning unfolded the wind dropped to a force four so I set off at 1000.

There were both showers and sun which the North West wind changed at will but generally it was quite overcast. The swell was much less than yesterday but the wind was causing some of the tops to topple into small white horses still.

I paddled down past more shipwrecks and many beaches. As usual these beaches were defined by large glacial boulders. In the ice ages Jaeren was the edge of the ice sheet and where this slow westwards moving ice sheet met the north westwards flowing mega glacier which ran off the present coast along the Norwegian Channel. Lots of moraines were deposited here either by streams under the ice sheet or from the retreating glacier. The boulders and sand In Jaeren come from these deposits.

Day 230.1 The tiny church near Varhaug is dwarfed by the barns of the wealthy Jaeren farmersAt Varhaug I passed a couple of substantial farms with its large wooden barns. In amongst these was a church. It had all the proportions and shape of a normal church but it seemed in miniature. I tried to get a picture of it in the waves and barely succeeded.

I paddled on down past Vigrestad where the waves started to grow in size again in this brisk North West wind. I soon reached the lighthouse at Kvassheim Fyr and phoned Tom in the lee. He had just arrived at Sirevag and would wait. I was still an hour’s for me to paddle.

Day 230.2 The extensive beach at Ognabukta with the ice scoured mountains of Dalane in the backgroundThe crossing of Ognabukta was reasonably quick due to the strong wind behind me. At the north end of the bay is was quite calm but as I got to the south end near the town of Sirevag the waves where up to a good 1.5 metres and many were breaking.

There were many tystie here again and I was surprised to see them as their favoured nesting places are in cracks and crevices along rocky shores and here there was mostly sand and dunes. There were also many eider duck. This year’s male juveniles were already changing colour from brown to the distinctive white patches.

Day 230.3 Tom Amundsen came to meet me in the kayak he had just finished paddling Norways entire coast inI met Tom Amundsen just after the massive breakwater at Sirevag and we paddled south. The waves round the point south of Sirevag were sometimes up to two metres and we were often out of sight of each other. However it was a short piece rocky of coast and after 2 km we were round the headland. I think we both enjoyed the waves here. While they were quite substantial we both knew that we had paddled alone round many remote headlands in Northern Norway where these Jaeren waves would have been small to medium.

Day 230.4 Some of the rocky islets and coastline around Hellvig in Nordregapet just west of EgersundThe coastline seemed to change completely after this headland and the beach and boulder landscape of Jaeren was replaced by 20-30 metre high craggy outcrops and islets. The rock seemed to be granite but it was too choppy to get close enough to see. Occasionally the sea surged between the islets and it was possible to surf the odd short lived wave, but by and large it was quite sheltered. If was obviously along here the tystie found nesting places.

The next hour was an easy run between these sheltered rocky islets with the wind behind us. We chatted a lot and paddled a little, with the wind giving us an extra 2-3 km per hour. The island of Eigeroy gradually came closer as we left the rocky islands along the coast of Nordregapet and entered Egersund sound.

Day 230.5 Tom Amundsen washing his kayak under the waterfall in Egersund soundThere were lots of very nice boat sheds, cabins and old small holdings down here and the soil seemed fertile and the fields very green. This was a steeper landscape and more rocky landscape than Jaeren. On the mainland side of the sound was a small waterfall right into the sea. We took it in turns to paddle under it. If I was in my drysuit I could have had a shower.

Day 230.6 One of the idyllic small holdings in Egersund soundThe island of Eigeroy was one of the very few islands on this North Sea coastline and the sound behind it was one of the few really good harbours on this coast. As a consequence the town has a long fishing history and is home to one of the biggest fishing fleets in Norway.

I had a lot of writing to do and the forecast for the next day was poor. I did not want to try an write in a rain lashed and exposed tent so decided to try and get a cabin at a campsite. There was one marked on the map before Egersund and Tom confirmed with a local it was OK.

Day 230.7 Just before the campsite at Tengs there was an  island with quaint boatsheds and cabins in an idyllic decidious settingWe then split up. I went up to the campsite and Tom down the sound under the bridge to his van. The paddle up to the camp site went under an iron bridge and into a basin with an island in it. It was just possible to go to the west of this island up a metre wide channel. The island itself was like a park with dense deciduous trees and small boat houses along the fringe. It was idyllic. The rowan trees were now heavy with red berries.

After the channel however my heart sank as I came to halt as the bay ended with a river. There was no way up this large river as it tumbled down rapids to the basin and the campsite was still half a km up stream. I left the kayak and walked. They had a free cabin which I took.

Just then Tom arrived and we returned to the kayak, hid it and then carried some stuff back to the cabin. He had to return to Sandnes and I had to eat, shower and start the writing. It was about 2000 when I started but I only managed a couple of hours. I still felt I was in the kayak and the waves of the day were continuing to bounce me around. I crashed out at midnight.

I was a good day with some interesting paddling again and a mixture of scenery from beach to the more familiar craggy pine covered coastline. The little I had seen from Egersund seemed idyllic. I was also great to paddle with someone else and share the high spirits of paddling in the medium sized waves off Sirevag.

Day 229. Stavanger to Hatangen in Ha

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Distance 39km | Time 8hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 229.1 Leaving Hafrsfjord and Stavanger after two days of galesI slept well and was up at 0700 so I could see the Oyvind before he went to work and the kids before school. I had also arranged to meet Tom at 0800. Tom would give me a hand carrying the stuff to the beach and see me off. The weather however did not look promising with a good force 5 still and frequent showers.

Tom arrived at 0800 and we chatted for a good hour before I started to get things ready during this time the weather was easing a bit. Eventually at 0930 we put the drybags in the wheelbarrow which Elin pushed to the shore while Tom and I carried the kayak. After a heartfelt goodbye I said paddled out of the bay at 1000. My thoughts as I entered the fjord were how nice the Amundsen family was and how good they had been to me. We will keep in touch I am certain.

Day 229.2 Heading down past Flatholmen Fyr lighthouse to Jaeren under heavy skiesI paddled across Hafrsfjord and negotiated some skerries to get into the open sea. The wind was now just a force four but the force six over the last 2 days had left the legacy of a large swell. Once I was past the skerries the swell must have been around 2.5 metres. I headed south and paddled down the coast with the new offices of the oil industry at Tananger on my east and the old lighthouse on the islet of Flatholmen on my west. I then crossed the mouth of the deep Risavik bay to reach another headland.

Day 229.3 The swell breaking on a submerged skerryTom had warned me about a feature on the coast and that was the shallow boulder ridges stretching out from every point. I could see what he meant. Most of the coast here was sandy beach but between the beaches were headlands of large glacial boulders. These headlands gradually descended into the sea and beyond. Often there were boulders nearly a km from the shore out from the headlands. As the swell passed over the boulders it rose into high waves and then crashed around the boulder. In this swell I had to be on the lookout the whole time and make some detours around the headlands.

I soon crossed Sola bay with its huge sandy beach of very light sand and then reached Olberg on the south side of it. Again I had to make detours here to avoid eruptions in the sea caused by visible and unseen submerged boulders toppling the swell. I needed to stop soon afterwards for a pause and to prepare myself for the next stretch which was Jaerens Rev, an infamous stretch of coast. I changed paddles to the larger blade and clipped myself to the kayak and attached the paddle leach.

While I was resting at Hellersto I went to take some photos of the sea crashing onto the rocks outside the harbour. The camera fell out of my pocket and into a rock pool. I retrieved it but it had already drowned. The card was OK though. The camera I use is not waterproof but has a good lens compared to the Olympus waterproof one. However I cannot get good action shots as I have to open up the day hatch to get the camera. Luckily I had the foresight to anticipate the camera would get wet and have two of the same.

I left Hellersto and once more headed back into the swell. There was the roar of breaking surf along the coast here as this swell formed waves and they dumped onto the beaches. I passed a shipwreck here which showed how bad this coast can be. In fact there were a few wrecks here. They seemed to be almost as common as in Finnmark. However here they were still along the shore, while in Finnmark the huge boats were hurled high onto the rocks.

All along the shore here, behind the beaches, sand dunes and boulders was the most productive farmland in Norway. The farmers here were rich. The huge barns where large herds of dairy cattle were milked and spent the night had traditional tiles on the roofs and the farm houses were traditional but large with many embellishments like balconies and rows of dormer windows in the mansard roofs. Around the farms where lush fields of grass and large herds of cattle. Jaeren was synonymous with farming.

Day 229.4 Passing the boulders on the headland at Jaerens RevI approached Jaerens Rev with some trepidation. As I headed down Borestranda beach I was heading further and further along a peninsula which jutted into the North Sea and its swell. The map marked an area of dangerous waves here and I could see a boulder ridge extending into the sea and then surf where this ridge was submerged. However contrary to my expectations the swell did not increase and was still 2.5 metres. Indeed if anything it diminished slightly.

Day 229.5 The 5 km beach at Orresanden is the longest in Norway and has some boulderss and many large dunesI passed the peninsula quite easily and was never concerned by the conditions. Once I returned to the shore after detouring round the boulder ridge the sea became much calmer and it became a pleasant evening. I paddled along the beach at Orrestranden which is Norway’s longest at about 5 km. There were some large waves breaking along the beach and I would not have been comfortable landing the fully laden kayak through them.

By the time I got to the end of this beach it was 1700 and I was looking for somewhere to camp and do some writing. There was however nowhere which was easy to land, looked nice to camp at and most importantly would not trap me if the wind increased in the night and the surf was too big in the morning.

I paddled past Skeie and Naerland and then started heading out round a peninsula again when I saw some boatsheds on a grassy pasture with some tables nearby. It looked ideal and it was sheltered also as it was in a spit of land and the sheltered side was the Haana river estuary. I paddled up the estuary for 200 metres passing a group of some 20 swans and landed on grass. I got out and had the luxury of dragging the fully loaded kayak straight up the meadow to a campspot.

Day 229.6 The view from my camp at Hatangen over the Haana river estuary and on to Obrestad Fyr lighthouseIt was a windy evening but I found a table in the lee of a boatshed. I put up the tent to dry, cooked supper, processed the photos and watched the fly fishermen hoping for salmon, but by 2100 I could just not start to write. As darkness approached it started to rain and I gave up and went to bed at 2230.

It had been an excellent day. The paddling was interesting and the scenery was a nice change. The big beaches the flat coast and the big farms in green fields reminded me very much of the land just over the sea from here; namely the coast around the north east of Scotland.