Archive for the ‘Update’ Category

Day 245. Nevlunghavn to Stavern

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Distance 21km | Time 5hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 245.1 Looking out between islands into a calmer section od the sea round RakkebaeneIt 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.

Day 245.2 Approaching the end of Rakkebaene and the Stavernodden Fyr lighthouseWhen 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.

Day 245.3 Coming into Stavern with the large boatsheds along the shoreI 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.

Day 245.4 A collection of vintage 'snekker' fishing boats in one of Stavern harboursOne 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 coffDay 245.5 Looking across the harbour inlet at Stavern to the old fortee, 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.

Day 244. Nevlunghavn weather and restday

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

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

Day 244.1 The inner harbour at NevlunghavnThe forecast yesterday was now being reality outside the window of my cabin where there was a 6-7 metre high willow bush. It was thrashing about widely in the wind but the waves on the beach were not that big. I rechecked the forecast and it said it would be a force 5 in the morning rising to a force 6 in the afternoon. It was frustrating but I had to resign myself to staying here for another day and resort to plan B.

Plan B was to forget the paddle over Oslofjord to Svinnesund on the Swedish border. Svinnesund was up an inlet and involved a large detour. Instead I would take a more direct line to Oslo, which was a lot further than Svinnesund. Oslo was about 140 km from here, or 3 long days paddling. The next 30 km to Tonsbergtonne needed a force 5 or less as it was an exposed section with many shoals waiting to spring a surprise.

I then had a bit more of a sleep before getting up at 1000 and doing some office work until 1200 when Reidun arrived. She said Roy, the journalist, was at the bakery in Nevlunghavn and wanted to treat me to lunch there. I showered and then walked through Nevlunghavn to the bakery.

It was a 20 year old family run business which made bread, cakes and had a café also selling filled rolls and soup. It seemed to be doing a roaring trade and many of the locals seemed to come here for lunch and a social catch up. People seemed to rate it better than the hotel. We joined a table with 3 others and there was a lot of banter. Both Roy and Reidun had to return to work so I wandered through Nevlunghavn again.

Day 244.2 The outer harbour at NevlunghavnThe winter population of Nevlunghavn was about 500 but in the summer this can rise to 5000. There are a lot summer houses here which are just used for 2-3 months in the holidays and then closed up for the autumn. It was already autumn. All the houses, summer or permanent were well kept and many of the gardens had apple or pear trees heavy with fruit.

Day 244.3 Repairing lobster creels in Nevlunghavn for the start of the season on October 1stI wondered through the small lanes and around the small harbour area for two hours admiring the buildings and the village. There were a few older men repairing lobster creels for the season which opens on October 1st. These creels are made from slats of wood rather than netting over a wire frame.

I returned about 1600 and relaxed in the cabin. The management here had given me a free night in the cabin as I was stuck by the weather, which was very generous of them. I spent the rest of the afternoon looking out of the window at the increased wind which was a definite force six now, doing some paper work and looking at the weather forecasts for updates. It seems to be less dire for the next days now but it is an ever changing situation. I will have to play it by ear and take any opportunity when it comes.

It had been a frustrating day but Nevlunghavn was a nice place to be stuck in.

Day 243. Nevlunghavn weather and restday

Monday, August 31st, 2009

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

I had to write the blog in the morning as I had not done it last night. The weather made this easy as there was a force four and light drizzle or Scotch mist. I wrote from 0800 until 1000 then packed up all the dry bags and went up to the reception to hand the key in. The lady who worked there, Reidun Berg, had been very helpful to me.

The camping place here, called Gurvika, was just composed of cabins. It was not really open to the public but was set up by a trust to provide cabin accommodation for handicapped and was booked by various organizations. It was only because I arrived from the sea in a kayak in the rain that she took pity on me and rented me a free cabin. I had not known this at the time.

Day 243.1 The flag at Gurvika was rigid in the force six wind for most of the dayWhen I returned to the cabin to take my bags down the weather deteriorated still further and the wind was up to a force five. The flag in the campsite was cracking in the wind and even the relatively sheltered bay was full of white caps. The islets beyond were ringed white with exploding surf. I stared out of the cabin looking at this and the willow trees whipping in the drizzle and increasing wind. It would be madness to go really. I would not gain much before I had to seek shelter from the sea and hide in my tent.

I decided to stay a day here as the forecast said it would not improve. Just then Reidun arrived to clean the cabin. She said it was OK to stay another day. In fact she wanted me to meet a local journalist and also to come to dinner that evening. She also said I could use the heated saltwater swimming pool on the complex.

I did some writing in the afternoon. I looked out of the window from time to time and was delighted I was still at the cabin and not out in the weather which was raging outside. It was a good force six all afternoon. I was getting worried about the time factor again but it cannot be helped.

With the writing done, I sent a mailshot and then had a siesta. I preferred this to go and have another look around the very nice, but very wet and windy, Nevlunghavn. When I woke I went for a swim in the heated pool. It was apparently 34 degrees and it felt warm, it was a good 30 degrees warmer than Varangerfjord three months ago.
The swimming pool was also very wheelchair friendly with long tiled ramp down to the water.

The journalist, Roy, arrived with Reidun at 1830. We chatted before Reidun had to go to finish the meal. The interview was very relaxed. We would have supper together so there was no need to make frantic notes. We chatted for an hour before we walked up to Reidun’s lovely home, a typical Nevlunghavn white wooden building with its white picket fence and tidy garden. Unfortunately I forgot my camera.

The meal was simply amazing and there were huge amounts of it beautifully served on large white plates. It was roast pork with crispy crackling, broccoli, carrots, boiled potatoes, caramelized baby potatoes, surkaal, cranberry sauce and pepper gravy. I had three helpings. There was also a delicious pudding of rice cream and strawberry sauce. Reidun was a very competent cook and host.

We all chatted for a few hours. I heard about Roy’s work as a professional healer and accomplished amateur journalist with his website called which covers a lot of local issues especially the recent ‘Full City’ ship disaster.

Full of delicious healthy food I walked back through the charming town of narrow streets lined by the white houses in the dark at 2200. It was almost like I was a midget wandering through some expensive white dolls houses draped in laced and separated by the white picket fences. I did some writing and looked at the depressing weather forecast before I had an early night.

It had been a dull day in the morning but this was brightened up by the swim and then the fantastic meal and good company in the evening.

Day 242. Aroy in Kragero to Nevlunghavn

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Distance 23km | Time 4hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 242.1 Some of the islands to the north east of AroyDespite the late night writing I got up at 0800 feeling quite refreshed. There were a few small jobs Ingrid had asked me to do in preparation for closing the place up for the winter when this warm lush place would be covered in snow and the sea which can be easily be 20 degrees in the summer might even freeze over occasionally.

It was then a late relaxed breakfast. It was a shame I was having to leave so early as I wanted to spend more time here relaxing in the good company but I had to push on to get to Oslo in a week.

We packed up the kayak with Peter helping and Ingrid looking on still in disbelief that everything could fit in and that this small craft had come all the way from Grense Jakobselv some 3000 km to the north.

Eventually at 1230 everything was packed and we said our warm goodbyes before I pushed off. Ingrid had kindly phoned a relation some 11km further north on Sastein island where there was a cabin available if I needed it. I was keen to push on a bit further but it was quite windy still.

I left and paddled round the north side of Aroy and phoned Jon who I had tentatively arranged to meet today around midday further north. He was already at Langesund and on the water so I blasted straight up to Sastein where I would ring again.

The journey to Sastein was quick and easy. The string of islands of which Aroy was one of extended north east and provided good shelter from anything which might come through from the Skagerrak sea At the same time there was a good force 5 behind me which pushed me along quite quickly. I passed numerous small islands and small headlands on the mainland as I sped towards Sastein. This was a very pleasant part of the south coast and was also called the sunshine coast. True to its name the skies were blue.

Day 242.2 In the channel on Sastein just before I started across LangesundfjordIn well under two hours I was at Sastein, a smaller beautiful island covered in pine forest. Much of it was a nature reserve and the islet to the north east was all reserve. The seas to the north of Sastein looked quite treacherous with many shoals and reefs and a big swell breaking on them.

Unfortunately Sastein was the site of a significant shipwreck a few weeks ago in a storm. The large ship ‘Full City’ broke its anchor in a storm at night as the crew slept and it drifted onto these reefs and was holed. Some 300 tons of low grade fuel oil spilt out and spread out along the coast. There has since been an effective cleanup operation and the ship has been towed off and most of the oil collected up and removed. However there were many sea birds, mostly ducks killed. As I rounded the north of Sastein and entered the channel between it and the islet where the wreck was I could still see a few traces of these 300 tons.

The weather was still a force five when I phoned Jon. I was keen to cross Langesundsfjord given the opportunity and he was more cautious. It was only some 8-9 km but it was renowned as a difficult stretch of water. The swell from Skagerrak came charging into this exposed fjord and there were many shoals to topple this swell. It was still just a force five and only some 6 km to Fugleoya so I decided to go for it and arranged to meet Jon on the east of the fjord with him driving round.

As soon as I poked my nose out of the sheltered channel and into the fjord I realized I was in for an exciting ride. The swell was suddenly large and was a good two metres. I had to weave through shoals where green water was breaking. Once past these I was clear and set my sights on the south end of Fugleoya.

Soon I was a km out into the fjord with the wind from my back and side. I was pretty much committed. There were many white crests but the breaking part of the wave was only 30 cm and quite manageable. There were lots of them and I was constantly looking out to sea making sure a rogue one was not coming. The swell was getting larger and larger as I crossed and there were some which were 4 metres high.

Day 242.3 The shoreline between Molen and OddaneThe natural line to follow took me to the south of Fugleoya towards and area on the mainland called Molen. For the last 5 km the wind increased up to a force six and the breaking crests were everywhere. Molen slowly approached but there was no chance of landing here. It was a headland and beach of boulders and the huge swell was crashing onto it. Molen was part of the Ra moraine from the last glacial period some 10,000 years ago. This Ra moraine forms a traceable band right round both sides of the Oslofjord.

As I could not land at Molen I had to go north of it and land but could be stuck on a beach for days or continue round an exposed headland called Oddane to Nevlunghavn. I opted for the latter and hoped the conditions would not deteriorate further.

The paddle from Molen to Oddane was exciting. The swell was a good four metres with some enormous steep mountains of water charging in from the south west. It was shallow enough here turn the swell into steep waves but not so shallow the top metre toppled over. None the less there was plenty of white caps and spray from the strong force six wind. I still had my glasses on, I could not afford the hand to take them off and they were deluged in spray every wave.

Had a rogue wave come I would not have been able to turn into it quickly enough so would have had to have taken all side on. I am getting pretty confident of the boats abilities now and it is extraordinarily stable. I would have gone over in almost anything else but this Tiderace Explore X looks after me well. While I was perched on top of these large waves I could see people on the boulder beach.

Day 242.4 Some of the islets off the Oddane headland which help protect NevlunghavnEventually I approached Oddane and saw there was a wide gap between the headland and some islands. It could easily paddle here but it would mean turning my back on this heaving sea for 3-400 metres. Beyond was shelter. There was the odd surprise as the waves surged in from behind me but I was soon into quieter waters and spotted a beach and cabins.

I paddled to the beach and landed. The lady running the campsite had a free cabin. I chatted a bit with her still pumping with adrenaline. She had seen me come in and was fascinated anybody would be out in that let alone in a kayak. I unpacked into a cabin and gave Jon a ring. He had been taking photos of the waves at Molen and arrived soon.

Day 242.5 A typical street in the large village of NevlunghavnIt was good to see him again. I last saw him in Varangerfjord right at the start. He skipped the exposed north coast and continued from Tromso. We decided to go for a meal in Nevlunghavn, a short walk to the north. Nevlunghavn seemed a very quaint south coast village with white wooden houses lining narrow twisting streets. White picket fences separated the tidy gardens. Soon we reached the harbour where there was the heart of the village. There was a shop, a hotel and a few closed cafes as the season was over. We chatted with a few locals and then had a meal at the hotel as we chatted about the trips we had had.

Jon left about 2100 as it got dark and I returned to the cabin to write the blog. I did not get it done but went to bed early instead after doing the photos.

It had been a great day. Sociable in the morning, then very exciting in the afternoon and sociable in the evening again.

Day 241. Aroy in Kragero weather and restday

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

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

Day 241.1 The view from the cabin across Jomfrulandsrenna to the sheltered and sandy west side of JomfrulandIt remained very windy in the night with some considerable downpours. It was great to lie in a bed and listen to it. I finally got up at 0900 when the rain had stopped but it was still a force six wind ripping through the trees.

After breakfast I had a long chat with Ingrid for a few hours while she showed me round the cabin and the grounds again. Not much had changed since I was last here some 4 years ago.

I then started some of my tasks. First I had to repair the expensive ‘epic’ paddle. I had to wash it in fresh water, dry it, sand it and abrade it and then glue it. It was the second time I have had to repair this poor paddle.

Secondly I had to repair my tent poles as a few of them were starting to split. Some of the poles were now probably a good 15 cm shorter after I had cut off the broken sections. I also oiled the joints as most were sticking due to salt corroding them. It was pleasant going about these tasks in the sun with all the tools to hand. I then put all my cloths to soak in a large bucket.

Day 241.2 The lush porch at the cabin on Aroy was quiet and hidden from the weatherFinally I had to start the blog. I managed to write a day up in the afternoon while everybody else had a siesta. It was still sunny outside but the wind did not let up. By the time I finished it was already late afternoon.

I hand washed the clothes in the tub and rinsed them in a dingy full of rain water. Soon they were hung up to dry. I still had another day to write up and photos to process so continued, and by dinner I had the typing finished.

Day 241.3 The annex where I slept at the cabin in AroyThe evening was a great meal of farekal. It is a lamb and cabbage stew and is very popular at this time of the year when the farmers are starting to bring their sheep and lambs in from the summer pastures for the autumn in the grazing nearer the farms. At this some lambs are also sent to market.

The weather forecast for tomorrow does not look to promising with a force five forecast at least. I will see what happens but have also arranged to give Jon westgaard a ring. He lives nearby and might want a paddle tomorrow. I paddled with him for a few days near the start in Varangerfjord some 14 weeks ago in another season. He took the ferry and skipped the Finnmark coast before finishing in Bergen.

I got all the pictures processed in the evening before mentally preparing for the final 8 days paddling which should see me cross Oslofjord to the Swedish border and then north to finish in Oslo.

It had been an OK day. I had done everything I wanted but did not really have a surplus of time to relax with Ingrid and Peter, although there was easily enough to enjoy their company.