Distance 21km | Time 5hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m
It was surprisingly still when I woke at 0600. It was an opportunity I had been waiting for to get round this Brunlanes peninsula between here and Stavern and perhaps the next peninsula between Larvik and Sandefjord. The seas off the Brunlanes peninsula contain the infamous Rakkebåene. This is an area of shoals which extends a long way offshore. In calm weather there is just a current to contend with here but in poor weather with a big south westerly swell it is an infamously difficult area with erratic breaking waves.
I had breakfast, packed up, swept the cabin and was off by 0730. The first 3-4 km was easy. I had the slight wind behind me and the swell was small. I was being protected from the south west swell from the islands extending out from Nevlunghavn. The weather was not that good though and there was the odd shower out of the overcast sky and the wind was picking up. It was already a force three.
I paddled past the shoals at Midtbåene where there were some large breaking waves, and Smorvika bay after which there was a deep inlet. I crossed the inlet and started round the headland to the east of it. There was the odd rumble of thunder and a few showers as I paddled round this largely unproblematic headland to enter Naverfjord.
After crossing Naverfjord the sea looked much more serious. This was Rakkebåene. For about 5 km offshore the seabed was composed of numerous shoals. Sometimes the waves passed over them and just steepened yet other times when a big wave passed over the wave would rear up and topple over in a violent crescendo. I could see numerous areas where the now large swell was breaking and it unnerved me.
The headland on the east side of Naverfjord proved to be very difficult. The waves were large and confused, there was the occasional swell erupting on unseen shoals and the wind was now at least a force 5. I hoped there was an inside route but could not take my hands off the paddle to look at the GPS map. I therefore went inside the headland and hoped. There was no inside route so I returned to paddle out and round. I was just getting nowhere and the sea was boiling white. It was forecast to increase so I called it a day and decided to go in to a beach in Naverfjord.
On the way in there was a tremendous thunderstorm and very heavy rain. The wind had now increased to a force seven and I was very glad I was not out in the middle of Rakkebåene in this.
There were many campsites marked on the map in this bay. I checked a couple out and they were ghost places with 100 or so caravans and nobody about and closed receptions. It looked like I would have to camp or paddle on. The rain stopped as I dithered and some blue sky appeared to the west. The wind also seemed to drop to a force 5 again so I decided to continue to Stavern at least.
I paddled out the 2 km again to the headland I had turned at. It was a slow paddle as it was into the wind. As I approached the headland the swell was back and it was charging in from the south west. I saw a huge set of swells coming and watched them as they approached rapidly. Suddenly the first in this series just grew and grew some 30 metres to my side until it was a good 5 metres high and near vertical and then the whole thing came crashing down, initially in a tube of green water and then an explosion of surf which must have gone up at least 10 metres. The next three swells did exactly the same. After that the sea was just rolling unbreaking small swells again.
This display of raw power unnerved me. There was no indication there was a shoal here from the way the sea behaved until this massive set of swells came through. Had I been 30 metres to the east I would have been in the middle of it. Despite the fact I was perpendicular to it I would have been turned end over end. I thought twice about continuing and then considered the dull beach and abandoned caravan sites which were the alternative and carried on. Luckily I did not see any more rogue waves breaking on hidden shoals. It is for this reason Rakkebåene is infamous. These monsters would have turned over most cabin cruisers.
When I got to the headland there were very choppy seas with many small breaking swells. I waited and watched for 10 minutes before I made a dash through what I thought was a safe path. After the headland it was relatively calm. There were about 4 such headlands but each one got easier as I went further east. There were also more islands to hide behind as I approached the final headland. Soon Stavernodden Fyr lighthouse appeared and a reasonably sheltered channel opened up in front of me as the last headland was an anti-climax.
I paddled past the lighthouse and down the channel into Stavern with the force five blowing me along. I was planning to cross Larviksfjord at once but saw a shop beside the small boat marina. I paddled up and pulled the boat onto the floating jetty. There were two groups of friendly sailors I got chatting to when I landed. I bought food and returned to continue but the wind was up to a force six again.
One of the sailing boats suggested a coffee and we chatted as it brewed. I then decided to pitch the tent on the grass nearby and stay in Stavern. Once I was sorted I went for a small walk through this nice town.
In the evening the couple who made the coffee, Espen and Sunya, invited me and the other two sailors on board for fish soup. It was delicious and rich with at least 10 different ingredients. We had a nice chat for a couple of hours until it got dark. I then wrote the blog and got a reasonably early night. The forecast tomorrow is better in the morning and I hope to do the remaining 15 km along this exposed coast to enter the shelter of Oslofjord before the next batch of bad weather arrives in the afternoon.
It had been an exciting morning and afternoon paddle, perhaps too exciting at times. The evening was great in a nice town with friendly company.