Archive for the ‘Update’ Category

Day 235. Jollesto in Farsund to Lindesnes Fyr

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Distance 41km | Time 9.5hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 335.1 The huge lighthouse at Lista was built on a  large spit og bouldersWhat a difference a day makes. This morning I could hardly hear the sea when I woke and looking through the small gap in the harbour wall I could see the waves were small. I packed up the tent, dragged the kayak through the grass to the water’s edge, loaded it and set off at 0900.

It was a different world outside the harbour from yesterday. The gentle waves were barely a metre and none were breaking in the virtually still air. I made good time across the bay towards the lighthouse. The lighthouse itself was situated on a spit off the south west corner of the peninsula. This spit was moraine landscape again with small boulders and some truly massive boulders which the sea could barely move in the worst storms.

I paddled round the spit and then started heading east past the lighthouse and on to the town of Vestbygda. It was sheltering behind some massive outer breakwaters. In this main sanctuary there were also some inner breakwaters which was probably the original harbour from long ago.

Day 335.2 One of the many beautiful beaches to the east of VestbygdaAfter Vestbygda there was a glorious section of coast with many large beaches of white sand and above the sand dunes green coastal grasses before the farms started. I paddled out past a peninsula of rock outcrops and sand and reached an island called Rauna.

Rauna was full of birds and was a sanctuary with access forbidden during the nesting season. There were many geese on the island and every type of gull also seemed to be here. Skuas easily robbed the juvenile gulls of the fish they were learning to catch. It was a fascinating place ornithologically. However there was a recent storm 3 weeks ago and this had caused huge piles of rotting kelp. The place smelt foul. There were lots of insects in these rotting piles and many sandpiper type birds were feasting on them.

Day 335.3 The lighthouse at Sondre Katland has seen some hard weather in it timeAfter a pause here I continued west along the coast with its frequent beaches until I reached Loshhamn. I cut inside a couple of islets and then headed over the bay to the southern tip of Langoy island. En route I passed the lighthouse of Sondre Katland. This sat on a skerry and the lighthouse was a tower off the keeper’s accommodation. It was an important lighthouse for the shipping route to the town of Farsund. It was automatic now but when it was manned the keepers took the vegetable soil in at the end of the summer to stop it getting washed away in the storms.

From Langoy to Kjopsoy near Korshamn there was an increasing wind against me. It started at a good two and was a good force four when I reached Gronsfjord. This stretch of some 7-8 km was interspersed with a few islands so there was plenty of interest as I slogged through the waves. Sometimes they were small and other times the swell from the north sea came through and they were much larger.

Day 335.4 Leaving Kjospoy and starting to cross the Gronsfjord to Lindesnes in the distanceAt Kjopsoy there was an old community of fishing houses which were now cabins. From here it was just 5 km across Gronsfjord to Lindesnes. I set my sights on the red (possibly granite) outcrops at the end of the Lindesnes peninsula and started paddling. I could not see the lighthouse until I was quite close. By now the wind was a force 5 and the sea state was getting quite choppy especially with the clapotis of rebounding swell.

There might have been a current against me as I slowly pulled and bounced my way through the rough sea. There were many tourists at the lighthouse looking at me and pointing. Just after the lighthouse was an inlet and I paddled into it and found somewhere to land by the boatshed.

Day 335.5 Lindesnes Fyr is the only manned and oldest lighthouse in Norway from 1656I went up to the keeper’s cottage. This was the only lighthouse in Norway with a keeper still. There is a long tradition of all those who start or finish Norge Paa Langs on foot, ski, kayak or most commonly on bicycle to come here and sign the book. When I set off at new year there was no one around. The keeper welcomed me with a tea and the book and we had a chat before he had to go off and lock up.

I was a bit worried that I would get stuck in this inlet given the weather forecast with a force 6 easterly for the next two days but decided to chance it and stay here. I put up the tent in exactly in the same place as New Year. It was a bit easier to get the tent pegs in this time.

After that I went up to the lighthouse to have a look around. It was already 2030 by now. I tried to write but didn’t manage and after supper managed an early night. The tent was rattling in the wind as it was quite an exposed place.

It had been a good day. The paddling was good but the wind against me for the last 20 km made for slow progress especially the last 5 km which took well over an hour, probably nearer two in the rough sea. It was great to be back at Lindesnes after nearly 6000 km on ski and in the kayak. It would have been cause for a small celebration but I still had another 450-500 km to go to Oslo, via Stromstad, to complete the classic Norgeskyst.

Day 234. Ystebo in Sokndal to Jollesto in Farsund

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Distance 27km | Time 7hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 334.1 Heavy rain and thunder as I made it to the sanctuary of Hidrasund soundI woke in Jan and Gunn Eide’s spare room after a wonderful sleep. I got up at 0800 and went down to a lovely breakfast. It was a typical Norwegian breakfast with a large selection of spreads to go on different breads and coffee. We chatted after breakfast also and although it was fine in the fjord I went to the breakwater to see down the fjord to the sea. There were no white horses.

I packed the kayak up and Jan and Gunn Eide saw me off at 1000. I zoomed out of the fjord and was doing nearly 10 km per hour without paddling due to the hydro electric current. At the end of the fjord I went to the east of a small island and through a 40 metre wide gap. The gap gave me a taste of what was to come as the waves here were huge; about 5 metres and reasonably steep.

Once through this gap I was out into the North Sea again. The wind was now a force four and was south westerly. It would be a side wind pretty much all the way to the island of Hidra. I kept about 500 metres out from the steep cliffs to avoid the worst of the rebounding clapotis.

The scenery here was nothing really I had seen before. The very steep, light cliffs came straight out of the dark sea as if in a dramatic painting. Here and there was some vegetation but it was mostly bare smooth rock slabs. At the base of these cliffs was a line of white surf where the large swell was smashing into the rock.

As I paddled to Hidra I noticed the south west sky was darkening. In fact it was very very dark grey. The wind was also increasing and it was soon a force 5. As I looked out to sea the sun was illuminating row upon row of white crests on top on the large swell. This looked all the brighter against the black sky which was approaching fast.

I was still about 4-5 from Hidra and needed to get there before this thunderstorm arrived. I sat up and started paddling hard. The kayak was shooting along and was launching off some of the waves. I think sometimes it was just sitting on top of a spike of water caused by the clapotis. I still had a couple of km to go when the thunderstorm arrived.

The wind was now up to a force 6, spray was everywhere and it was pouring rain. I had to lean out to sea to keep my balance as I rode up a wave and fell of the back of it into deep holes. The sea was now full of white horses and spray; which was forming streaks on the water. I was lucky none of the larger of the white horses with a bit of green water mixed in caught me.

Day 334.2 The sides of Hidrasund were steepThe whole scene was out of a Wagnerian opera. The dramatic cliffs along the coast were hazy in the rain and there was the occasional bolt of lightning and frequent rumblings of thunder. Amongst all this on a heaving sea with spray flying off the numerous white caps was a small yellow kayak heaving from crest to trough. I paddled hard for 2 km and after a quarter of an hour was at last approaching the lee of a small island to the north west of Hidra.

I decided not to go down the west side of Hidra as I probably would not make it but opted to go down the east side which was a few km longer but more sheltered. As I started the weather eased and the sun came out. I was already committed to the east side by now though.

However I soon noticed that there was a thread of water dividing Hidra into two. It started in Eie on the north side and finished at Rasvag on the south side. I found it easily and started to paddle down it. It was 4-5 metres wide and was formed into a canal by the jetties along each side. Old boat houses and fisherman’s cottages lined this canal and it was quite idyllic. It was all natural except for about 50 metres where it looked like a slot was made to link the canal on each side of the island.

I paddled south through this enchanting, deciduous passage until it opened out again and then I headed over to Rasvag for a pause before I crossed Listafjord.

Day 334.3 The charming village of Rasvag was a sorlandsidylRasvag was a Sorlands idyll. It was a small old fishing village well protected by islands. The houses were all white and well maintained, with colourful gardens. There was a café where I stopped for lunch. There was also a small shop.

Recharged by the passive waters of the canal and in the lee of the islands I had forgotten about the open sea. I was soon in it having to weave through some shoals just south of Rasvag as the surf roared onto them. The waves were soon 4 metres and the wind was force 4 again.

I was a short rough crossing where I was continually being hit in the chest by white caps. The kayak was again lurching from side to side and crest to trough. I was beginning to doubt I would get round Lista fyr lighthouse. This became every more apparent when I noticed how slowly I was going and how the wind was now a good force 5.

I slowly pulled my way down the very rough shore doing about 2.5 km per hour and using a lot of energy. The waves very large and there was plenty of clapotis and claws of white snapping sea. I decided to throw in the towel when I saw the breakwaters at Jollesto, even though it was not even 1700.

Even the last km took nearly half an hour with plenty of facefuls of water. One of the greatest irritations was the sun. I could hardly see where I was going and it was bliss when it disappeared behind a cloud and I could see the waves approaching. The final run into the harbour was quite tricky as the small bay was full of reefs with the swell erupting on them.

I eventually entered the sanctuary of the small harbour and found a campspot nearby. There is hardly any tide here now so it is much easier to move the kayak up the shoreline. The tide here is small because the tidal surge coming through the English Channel and the tidal surge coming round the north of Scotland arrive at different times and cancel each other out.

I had the tent up but 1800 and then I rinsed the salty cloths and hung them in a barely used bus shelter in the quiet village. I wrote half the blog in this shelter and half in the tent later on. It took 5 hours to get the bloody thing done and I finished at midnight.

It had been a challenging day. People have warned me about Stad, Jaeren and the exaggerated Hustadvika the whole time but nobody has ever mentioned Lista which must be just a bit less wild and exposed than Stad itself.

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.