Archive for August, 2009

Day 228. Stavanger weather and restday

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

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

The weather forecast was right and it was indeed another foul day. The rain was torrential and was bouncing back off the garden furniture. In addition the wind was at least as strong as yesterday and the tops of the trees were swaying and whipping in the wind. It was not a day for paddling.

I had the luxury of having very little to do. The writing was up to date. I had done all the tinkering with the website and there was nothing nagging on that topic. Tom had brought some books around and I spent the morning reading through them. One was a book by a Swede called Jim Danielsen who paddled the Norwegian coast some 20 years ago and was perhaps the first to do so. The other was a coffee table type book with masses of aerial photographs from northern Norway and Finnmark in particular.

A little after lunch Tom and his partner, Vivian, came round. While Tom and myself were not talking about the paddling Vivian and myself were talking about working offshore in the North Sea as she worked in that field and was occasionally on the rigs, but as largely based in Stavanger arranging training.

It was apparent that Tom was most taken by Finnmark out of all the sections of the trip. In retrospect Finnmark would probably be the most memorable for me also. It was certainly the most challenging so far. Troms was perhaps the most spectacular and Nordland (Helgelandskyst) the most idyllic.

There was a short pause in the weather so we went for a short walk nearby along the edge of the Hafrsfjord. There was a great battle here in which Harald Harfagre defeated his rivals some 1000 years ago and united Norway under him. He then appointed 12 governors to rule the districts he had collected together.

There was a large monument at the edge of this fjord on a knoll of a broken chain link. This was to commemorate the 130 odd people who lost their life when the 5 legged semi submersible capsized after a chain broke and a leg broke off. This happened in the early days of the North Sea around 1980. There was a list of names. Apparently about half were from the Stavanger region but I counted about 10 Scottish names on it also.

Before the rain returned we headed back to Toms’ brothers house. Tom and Vivian soon had to go but Tom arranged to come and help with the kayak tomorrow and also to meet for a paddle on Tuesday around the Egersund area.

Just before they left Oyvind, Elin and the two nice kids, Lasse and Elena, returned. They had been at a cabin with other members of the extended family. There was more brotherly banter and leg-pulling before Tom finally left.

In the evening Elin treated everyone to a carry out meal and Oyvind showed me how he had transformed the house. He had added another storey virtually by building a new roof over the present one and then removing the original one. The upstairs space created was large and bright. Tom helped him with much of this while a brother-in-law did all the electrics.

After the kids were in bed we chatted for a few hours until after midnight. Oyvind a joiner to trade had an interesting history as a UN peace keeper in Lebanon for a few years.

It was a very sociable day in very good company. I am genuinely sure I will keep in touch with the Amundsens and hope I can repay their superb hospitality in Scotland some day.

Day 227. Stavanger weather and restday

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

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

I managed some of the writing last night but still had a good mornings’ left. When I looked out of the window over the garden to the barely visible sea I was delighted I could stay here. It was pouring rain and it was a force six with plenty of white caps in the bay. I could perhaps have paddled some 10 km to Olberg but would not have got further and I would have been soaked in the process.

After breakfast which Oyvind and his wife Elin had kindly left for me I wrote. I had the television on and it was nice to catch up with some world’s affairs and athletics between writing. I also changed a few things on the website and posted some very high resolution posters for various press people to download and use.

In the afternoon Elin arrived and we chatted. She kindly brought some more food for me including bacon and eggs for breakfast tomorrow. Then Tom arrived and it was getting quite sociable. In the meantime the wind and rain continued outside and I though how lucky I was to find sanctuary with the Amundsens.

Then there was noise at the door which heralded the arrival of more Amundsens. It was Torild, one of Toms 3 sisters and Mr Amundsen. Torild kindly brought fruit for us and for the first time this year I probably had my daily 5 fruit or veg. Mr Amundsen brought beer.

It was a very cheerful afternoon with just about a fifth of this large and enthusiastic family. After a couple of hours with a lot of banter everybody left to return to their homes and cabins and suddenly the house felt quiet. I spent more of the evening loading photos and watching the television. The weather forecast for tomorrow did not make good viewing and it looked like I would be here another day.

It had been a great day. It is always nice to be indoors when there is no doubt about the paddling. It gave me a chance to write. It was also lovely to meet some more of the friendly, happy Amundsen family. They were almost the yardstick of how a family should be.

Tidens Krav – Newspaper Article

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

To view the newspaper article from Tidens Krav from 1 August please click on the link below: 

Tidenskrav 1st August 2009

Day 226. Arsvagen in Bokn to Stavanger

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Distance 29km | Time 6.5hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 226.1 Easy paddling across Boknafjord in the rain towards Fjoloy Fyr lighthouseThere were again many showers on the tent after I woke early after a good long sleep. I waited for a pause and then packed up. It was completely windstill, which was a blessing for paddling but a nightmare for midges in this damp forested glade. I was eventually on the water for 0900.

Day 226.2 Fjoloy Fyr lighthouse was surrounded by rock slabs glistening in the sun after the rain showersInitially I paddled past the ferry terminal to get out of this ferry route and then set my sights on the distant island of Mosteroy and the Fjoloy lighthouse at its western tip. The crossing was relatively easy and much quieter than I anticipated with very little ship traffic. It remained calm but there was the occasional heavy shower. After two hours I reached the lighthouse and had an early lunch.

I had planned to continue all the way to the beaches to the west of Sandnes and camp and then ring Tom Amundsen for a beer and chat. It was still some 25-30 km so I set off quickly for the final crossing to Stavanger which was the 5-6 km wide Byfjord to Tungenes Fyr lighthouse. There was a lot more shipping here coming and going out of Stavanger harbour.

About half way across I thought I heard the phone. It was a missed call by the time I got to it. It was Tom Amundsen. He suggested I paddle another 10 km to Kvernevik and there I could stay in his brother’s empty house. That sounded great. I was looking forward to meeting Tom who was usually 10 to 20 days ahead of me down the coast and we had frequent contact on the phone.

Day 226.3 Suddenly Richard appeared beside me in a beautiful wooden kayak he had made himselfI past Tungenes Fyr and was in a world of my own after passing some porpoises when I suddenly noticed the bow of a kayak beside me. I had to do a double take and right enough there was a kayak there. Initially I thought it was Tom but it was Richard. Naturally we got chatting.

Richard was a work colleague in the fire department and kayaking buddy of Toms who just by chance was returning from his cabin to the very bay where I was heading and Tom’s brother Oyvind lived. It is not unusual in Norway to have extraordinary coincidences especially in the social world where someone’s cousin could be married to the neighbour of someone you meet in a DNT cabin. Norway is a small world socially but this was an extraordinary coincidence. It was good to have someone to talk to.

Day 226.5 Richard and myself just outside the inlet at Kvernevik by StavangerRichard was in a beautiful wooden kayak he had made himself after the design of a famous Swedish kayak designer. He had spent about 250 hours building the boat and had made his own Greenland paddle. He was fast and I had to increase my tempo a lot to keep up with him- yet he was relaxed. Just then his phone went. It was Tom looking out for me and recognized Richards’s hat through his binoculars.

We rounded Vistnes headland and then paddled across the bay to Kvernevik. We chatted continually. As we approached the land he pointed out a few things like the memorial to the Alexander Kielland platform which was Norway’s large offshore tragedy some 25 years ago.

Day 226.4 A distant welcome by the Amundsen family as I approached StavangerWhen we reached the rocks near Kvernevik bay I saw someone standing on the knoll slowly waving a Norwegian flag. Then I saw Tom by the water. We chatted briefly and then paddled the 200 metres into the Kvernevik bay. What a reception I got from the Amundsens.

Day 226.6 A very warm welcome from Mr Amundsen and his son Tom who has just finished the same kayak trip along Norways' entire coastThe three men had all been reading the blog and welcomed me very warmly. There was lots of hand shaking and banter and then all hands grabbed my boat and we carried it fully loaded up to Oyvinds’ house some 200 metres away. Many hands made light work.

Day 226.7 The Amundsen family; here Oyvind, The head of the large clan and Tom,  made me very welcome and were avid readers of my blogI felt quite humbled by their greeting. Mr Amundsen well into his 70’s had a warm personality and still had a playful glint in his eyes. He had 5 children and Tom, who had just finished the Norwegian coast was one, and Oyvind, who house we were at was another. My Amundsen had been one of the early North Sea saturation divers. To leave a dive bell at 200 metres depth in the dark and fumble over the sea bed to a pipeline and start welding a segment on it must have taken a lot of courage in those pioneering days 30 years ago. He must have inherited that from his great great uncle.

I had a shower while Oyvind shopped for me and then chatted briefly with Tom before he had to go. The weather forecast for tomorrow was bad and if I stayed it would give Tom and myself the chance to chat about our trips. Oyvind also had to return to his family in their cabin nearby but made sure I felt completely at home before he went. His very bright, polite son Lasse let me sleep in his bedroom.

It was one of the most comfortable evenings this year. I wrote some of the blog, made a meal from the food Oyvind kindly bought, washed some cloths and relaxed in front of the TV. The weather forecast did indeed look grim for tomorrow.

It was an OK paddling day across Boknafjord to Stavanger but a great and memorable arrival.

Day 225. Haugesund to Arsvagen in Bokn

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Distance 41km | Time 7.5hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 225.1 Haugesund was a busy centre with a rich maritime history and a wealth of traditional boats were moored throughout the centreIt was quite a windy night down by the shore with frequent heavy rain showers. Each time I was about to get up another shower would come through and pelt the tent. It probably sounded worse than it was on the taut nylon. I eventually got up at 1030. It was blowing a good force five but straight out of the north as forecast. I would have a strong wind in my back all day.

I set off at 1200 and immediately was pushed down the north end of Karmsund with waves breaking over the cockpit. Soon I got to a more sheltered part of the sound and the waves got smaller as the fetch was less. Karmsund is the 300-400 metre wide sound which separates the maritime town of Haugesund from its more industrial half on Karmoy island across the water.

Initially I went down Karmsund itself for the northern part of Haugesund town but then discovered I was to the west of a line of islands in the sound and to the east was another narrower sound, a canal through the town. This formed an artery through the middle of the city and I took it.

I was blown through the centre of quite a charming city. Old herring wharfs had been tastefully converted and there was quite a collection of traditional wooden boats. There was also a metropolitan feel with plenty of glass, metal and concrete buildings. Many ritzy cabin cruisers and sleek modern yachts were moored along this canal. People drinking Chablis in expensive cloths on their boats waved and made friendly comments as I passed. Market stalls lined the main street. There was a jazz festival on for a few days. They called it ‘SildJazz’ or ‘Herring Jazz’.

Haugesund ended with more waterside apartments and a large bridge over Karmsund to the more industrial Karmoy island. I was blown under the bridge and then entered another basin with more industry on the Karmoy island side. There were also 11 large ships moored here. Most seemed container ships sleeping out the recession and waiting for Europe’s hunger for Chinese consumables to reawaken.

Day 225.2 After Haugesund I paddled down the industrial Karmsund until I escaped through the delightful Roksund to ForresfjordI did not have to wait long until I reached an escape route from Karmsund. On the east side was a peninsula with a medium sized island off the end of it called Fosen, and separating this island from the peninsula was Roksund. I turned into it and entered another world.

Between the spruce forests on each side of Roksund sound was a quiet, sunny, strip of water. It was a sanctuary and on each side it was lined with older wooden cabins and boathouses all set in mature colourful gardens. There were about 30 swans in one of the wider sections. There was activity here also but more of the small, artisanal, boatyard type, rather than the huge multinational concerns along Karmsund.

At the east end of the 2 km long Roksund I entered Forresfjord. The wind was back and by now it was a force six. I got bundled down the fjord and hardly had time to take photos. I was doing nearly 8 km per hour. I kept closer to shore as the waves were smaller here. If the waves get to big the kayak slows considerably. It cannot catch and surf these fast moving waves which pass under it. It therefore tends to wallow a bit sliding down the back of one wave and accelerating down the face of the next for a second or two. If the waves are small however a strong following wind pushes me along well.

Day 225.3 Paddling south down Forresfjord with Vestre and Austre Bokn islands in the distance on the right and left respectivelyI made good time down Forresfjord towards the green, pastoral Bokn islands ahead going round the east of Hovringoy and then south through a cluster of rocky islets, which were very rugged and angular.

I was going to cut over to Vestre Bokn from here but suddenly there was about 4 ships and the express ferry in the Boknsund between the two main islands so I kept to the east and went to Austre Bokn island instead. Once I reached it I paddled down under the bridge with the waves suddenly rising to nearly 2 metres under the bridge due to the flooding tide. It made for a very choppy sea where I could not let go of the paddle at all for support strokes.

As soon as I was under the busy bridge the sea calmed down and I could cross the sound to the west side and continue down to the south of Vestre Bokn island. I understood why the bridge was so busy now because this was the main road to Stavanger from the north. All the vehicles were also heading to the south of Vestre Bokn where two large ferries crossed Boknafjord constantly.

As I paddled to the southern tip of the island I passed an islet with about 30 herons resting on it. Birds seem very wary of my yellow slow moving kayak, and the heron especially. They were all airborne while I was still 200 metres away. Yet they won’t bat an eyelid when a speedboat goes past.

I passed a couple of campsites but continued south past the breakwater for the busy ferry terminal where I hoped to camp. However round the breakwater was just a bleak wave ravaged shoreline of bare rock. There was nowhere to camp here and I had run out of island.

Day 225.4 Looking across Boknafjord with the distant islands of Rennesoy and MosteroyI did not want to cross the 10 km Boknafjord in this force five wind. While it looked benign here with the spray just lifting of the wavelets I knew on the other side the waves would be big. This was a problem in itself but more importantly the ships and express ferry would just not see me among the breaking waves. I had no option to return to the herons. It was a good 3 km back into the wind. It took almost an hour and I was irritated by my lack of foresight and this wasted effort.

As I approached the herons I noticed a bridge and inlet which I had missed before. I paddled into it and a large basin opened up. On one side were tasteless modern cabins with flat roofs but on the other was an old farm with fields of grass and juniper forest and a muddy beach. It was ideal.

Day 225.5 My campsite in the hidden inlet of Vagsskjeften by Arsvagen on the south of Vestre Bokn islandI landed and found a campsite beside a juniper. I then noticed some sheep and a very old man tending them. He must have been nearly 90 and walked with difficulty yet he had overalls on. I approached him and asked him a question. He switched his hearing aid on and said off course I could camp. He then herded his sheep down the grassy track to an older barn. I felt a lot of admiration for him, this old man who should have been in a nursing home but refused to give up.

I had the tent up in the evening sun with a good breeze to keep the midges at bay. By the time I was in my clammy damp sleeping bag it was 2130 and I could not be bothered to write. Instead I had a very early night and was asleep while the sun was just setting.

It had been an OK day. The wind had really helped and had also made some interesting moments. Roksund was perhaps the highlight and backtracking against the wind in a bad mood was the low.