Archive for August, 2009

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.

Day 240. Arendal to Aroy in Kragero

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Distance 70km | Time 14hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 240.1 Leaving Arendal at 0500 in the morning before dawnThe alarm went at 0330. Without even pausing for a moment to think I got up. I knew any delay would be fatal as I would rationalize a reason to go back to sleep. Breakfast was a packet of biscuits and a bar of chocolate. I then slid the kayak down the bank to the water packed it and set off at 0500 all in the dark. I paddled about 2 km to the bridge before the first hint of dawn started to appear.

I was still in a bit of a daze as I paddled up Tromoysund. I felt very tired and yawned profusely. Tromoysund seemed really to go by in a blur. It was completely wind still which did not help wake me up. The south shore here seemed to be a sparse string of houses sometimes bunched into the odd hamlet but by and large it had a rural feel.

Day 240.2 The swell and surf on the skerries outside Sandoya in the sun with the wind picking upIt was only when I got to the semi open sea around 0700 did I start to wake up a bit. There was a small amount of wind now and there was the area with some swell coming through the shoals and skerries to make me more alert. It was just a force three at the most but it was directly behind me thankfully.

Day 240.3 A typical islet with a population of gulls resting on the ice scoured smooth slabsI started to get into my pace more and headed up the east side of Sandoya where a line of skerries protected me from the swell. Not that this swell was difficult but it would have slowed me considerably and as the crow flies today was 66 km. At the north of Sandoya I noticed the wind was swinging more southerly as I crossed Sandfjord to reach Askeroy. At the east end of Askeroy was a town called Lyngor.

Lyngor was the Sorlandsidyl. It was built around a basin hemmed in by a few islands at the east of Askeroy. It was renowned as possibly the best preserved and most beautiful town on the south coast. When I reached it I could see why.

Day 240.4 A view of Lyngor from the shop across the basin to the north side of the stunning coastal villageThere were a few channels radiating out from this central basin. Both the basin itself and the channels were lined with gorgeous wooden houses and small businesses. Now doubt the sail maker who had a building here did not make sails any longer here and the boat yards no longer contained welders and but the buildings were intact and used for more gentle businesses still associated with boats like varnishing. The houses were rectangular and white and many were quite grand and very well kept.

Day 240.5 Another view of Lyngor in the channel leading north from the central basinThere was a shop so I went in to see if they had a coffee just to have a nosey round. The shop was characteristically quaint for the town with goods neatly stacked on wooden shelves. They did not have coffee and suggested the café. I did not really have time though and set off slowly for a tour around the basin. It was raining heavily so I could not take as many or as good photos as I wanted but some were OK. It was indeed a very beautiful town from a bygone age. There were still some cabin cruisers polluting the scene but there were also many working boats and older modest wooden sailing yachts.

With regret I left before I was ready and paddled out of a small channel lined with old houses and was into the east end of Lyngorfjord. Soon the islands to the south were running out and I was into the open sea. By now however the wind had shifted to the south east and it was a force four. I was worried about this as it was would be from the side. However it was too bad yet but it was forecast to increase.

There was one small peninsula which was getting the full swell of about 2 metres and this was rebounding for quite a way out with a confused sea. It was a short section though and I was soon back into the shelter of the skerries as I paddled up to the end of this peninsula to Fie. There was then a windy crossing with a fair bit of shelter across the fjord of Stanfsholmsgapet to the town of Risor. As I approached the town I thought the wind was up to a force five but it was swinging back to the south west again and was behind me.

I ate lunch as the wind blew me past Risor. In half an hour I was blown nearly 2 km up the side of Risoya with the town drifting past across the sound. It also seemed a nice town but not in the same league as Lyngor or larger Arendal but more like Lillesand. I saw it from a distance though the drizzle and not that closely.

After Risor I again had the shelter of some islands for about 5 km and I was beginning to get quite optimistic about getting to Aroy tonight as there was only some 27-28 km left to go and it was just 1400. It was the advantage about getting up early that I had already done some 45 km. As I reached Gjernestangen the weather started to deteriorate to another stage again. I had to detour to go out around this point and this forced me into the open sea.

From Gjernestangen north there were many shoals and skerries along the shore and it did not look like there was an inside passage. It was now a solid force five and I was forced to paddle in the ocean if I wanted to continue. I could not really look at the GPS as I need both hands on the paddle. If it continued like this I could just make it to Portor where I would be some respite and be able to plan the route further. Between me and the shore all the way up the coast to Portor some 5-6 km to the north was surf as the breaking swell crashed onto the skerries and toppled on the shoals. Occasionally I had to detour out further to avoid shoals. I was nearly a km from land.

There was some very heavy rain showers but it did nothing to dampen the sea state. Then the wind increased a notch again to a force 6. It did not take long before the waves responded. The white caps were now everywhere and most were about 30 cm high on top on the 2 metre high waves. I was getting to my limit and when I felt the wind was not decreasing and might have even been a force seven now with spray flying everywhere I decided to get the hell out of there.

As I paddled in to what I hoped was an opening a fishing boat drew abreast obviously heading for shelter also. The boat was heaving and surging all over the place and he had obviously called it a day. He was looking out of the wheelhouse at me disappearing in the troughs and leaping up on the white crests thinking madman. Soon the boat made it to calmer waters and I followed this local knowledge. Soon I was in sheltered enough water to take a hand off the paddle.

Just then the wind did increase to a force seven and there was the heaviest rain shower I have experience this year. I was amongst the skerries again and the splash of the rain was flowing over the skerries in the wind and across the water like spindrift. I managed then to have a look at the GPS now and lo and behold there was a route along the inside of skerries and shoals for some 3 km all the way to Portor. It looked like I might make it after all.

As I sneaked through the skerries the rain ceased and I made good progress in the strong wind. Occasionally I had to go round a headland but it was not exposed as the main violence between the sea and the land was taking place off the coast with the shoals and it was the remnants of the weather which got through.

I got to Portor and then had an easy crossing across the bay to Rapentangen with the wind pushing me fast. From Rapentangen I continued north east across Kragerofjord. To the south I could see the whole sea was white where the swell which has grown suddenly was toppling on the reefs and exploding onto the skerries. The wind which was still a force seven would then disperse the spray over the whole area. By the time I neared Vestre Rauane, an island in the middle of Kragerofjord the waves were already up to a metre just in the short one km fetch from Rapentangen and everyone was breaking. The sea in front was streaked with surf.

From Vestre Rauane it was a short surf across the rest of the fjord with smaller waves again until I reached Korset on the Skatoy. I just had 6 km to go now and all of it in a reasonably sheltered archipelago so I made a phone call to tell my ex mother in law to put the kettle on.

Day 240.6 Being blown through the archipeligo to the east of KragerofjordThe last 6 km were very easy. The wind diminished to a force 6 as I wove deeper into the network of islands. To the south east was Jomfruland, a low lying crescent shaped island formed some 10,000 years ago as the terminal mound to the Ra moraine which is found as a band throughout the Oslofjord region.

The islands around Kragero have become very fashionable in the last 25 years for the wealthy of Oslo to build their summer cabins. In some places there are ridiculously opulent palaces from the new rich and in other places desperate social climbers have bought a small bare skerry and built a white palace on top of it complete with Corinthian pillars. The is little of the charm of Ny Hellesund here. Where there are the original communities on the inner islands there are some more charming places as there are on Jomfruland’s inner side.

Day 240.7 Approaching Ingrids cabin with the boatshed above the bow and the main cabin to the rightAroy is one such older community and there are also many older cabins here around its shore line. In one of these my ex mother in law, Ingrid, spends most of the summer. My ex brother in law, Peter, was also staying. I pulled into their jetty at 1900 after 14 hours paddling and soon had the boat on the jetty and emptied into the boat house.

It was good to see them and they made me feel very at home. I had a shower and had to borrow cloths as everything else was filthy or wet, much of it both. Clean and shaved I had a great meal of king crab and wine and then chatted in front of the television as the sun went down outside the window. Despite the early start I did not feel tired now and we chatted until 0100 before I went out to the annex cabin and cotton sheets.

It had been a very long day with all sorts of weather from the calm morning to the dramatic weather and seas between Risor and Kragero. It was nice to be back at this cabin which I have visited every two or three years for the last 30 years. I still get on with all my ex relations except the main one, who I luckily always manage to avoid.

Day 239. Ramsoya in Lillesand to Arendal

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Distance 57km | Time 10hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 239.1 The sound of Blindleia south west of Lillesand was home to many rural seascapesI managed to get up reasonably early and set off at 0830. Taking the tent down I snapped another end of a tent pole section. There was a good west wind blowing and frequent drizzle showers. My cloths which were hung to dry were still wet so I donned the drysuit and my dry set of cloths. At breakfast I noticed I had virtually no food left

In the open sea this wind would have created larger waves which the kayak would have wallowed in, surging down a face and then sliding back into the trough. It would not have been that fast. However there was a slightly longer way down the inside of a series of islands all the way to Lillesand. This inside way was called the Blindleia. The wind here would push me along but the fetch would never allow larger waves. It was the obvious route.

This route took me past the coastal hamlet of Gamle Hellesund. It was a beautiful start to the morning and the drizzle was soon ignorable. It was not quite as quaint as Ny Hellesund from yesterday but it was none the less a Sorlandsidyl of the best class.

Day 239.2 There was tranqail cabins and small holdings down eachh side of the Blindleia soundAfter this I was blown down a 10km long channel which was quite enchanting. To the north was the mainland with many small inlets while to the south was the sting of islands separated by small sounds. There was a scattering of hamlets and holiday cabins all the way down here to Lillesand. It continued to drizzle and was misty, but this did little to dampen the beauty of the 10 km. There were frequent duck and also many swan and heron.

Day 239.3 The small town of Lillesand with its Lutheran church and some wooden waterfront buildingsThis delightful channel ended after 2 hours with a bridge over to the island of Justoy and I soon crossed a basin to reach Lillesand. I thought there must be a shop here and cruised along the sea front in the drizzle until I reached a bay. Here was the centre of Lillesand with its large Lutheran church and grander wooden buildings along the waterfront.

I stopped here in a marina in the heart of the town and pulled the kayak ashore and walked a few blocks to a shop. There I bought food for 5 days and then had a small explore around the centre. People did not seem so friendly here or maybe I just scared them off with my ragged look and drysuit. After a good hours shopping delay I was back in the kayak again heading through the narrow Grunnesundet towards the sea as the series of islands forming the idyllic Blindleia had finished.

I passed the substantial Homborsund Fyr lighthouse and was now into the semi open sea. There seemed to be a series of skerries and shoals further out which broke up the swell and it was just the residual waves which got through. Occasionally there was a gap in these and the Skagerrak swell came charging in powered by the force four wind. The wind direction and strength was almost exactly what I wanted.

Day 239.4 The sea around Bjoroy had some swell breaking on the skerriesI went to the outside of Bjoroy and then the inside of the next larger island of Haoy. The wind helped me tremendously and my average speed here was about 7 km per hour. I was going so easily and quickly I barely noticed the town of Grimstad tucked away in a bay. Then I was shooting along the inside of Hesnesoy and passing the town of Fevik which was more visible than Grimstad from the sea.

Day 239.5 Approaching Arendal the weather improved and brightened up the pine forests on HesnesoyThe whole coast here was typical Sorlandet with low lying mainland with numerous inlets. This whole landscape was then covered in pine trees and juniper bushes. There was also a lot of heather now which was purple in its autumn. I thought I noticed some birch and rowan trees just showing the first hints of autumn colours also. Certainly the rowans were heavy with berry now.

On the islets the juvenile gulls were adult size but retained their childhood plumage still. They continued to follow their parents and whine constantly for food. There were also many ducks along the coast here on the smooth ice polished rocks of the skerries. They did not seem so shy as the other eider ducks I had passed in the summer.

Before long I was crossing a bay north of Hasseltangen and was making the final approach past a couple of islands to the southern entrance of Arendal. Arendal seemed much bigger than all the other towns on the south except Kristiansand. I crossed over and paddled up the east side of the entrance along the side of Tromoya.

Day 239.6 Going up the west side of Tromoya where there was a suburb of Arendal along the steeper shorelineFor 3-4 km I paddled past waterfront homes on the steep hillside. Many of these homes were quite bohemian and quaint. Interspersed among them were some older boat yards and wharfs. Just at the top of this sound did it get more industrial for a section. While across the sound was the main centre of Arendal. It looked an interesting and very nice town and seemed a bit more relaxed than the formal Lillesand.

It was soon sunset and getting dark and I needed somewhere to camp. After the industrial buildings I turned east into Tromoysund and past a grand stately home set in a large parkland with huge sweeping lawns. It was the nearest thing I had seen to aristocracy in this egalitarian country and it must have belonged to a shipping magnate. I found out later it was Smith Sorensen. I thought about camping here on the lawn along the shore as the house was empty but it might have been too confrontational. Soon afterwards I found a spot in the field.

I had to put the tent up with the headtorch on. First I had to saw the broken bit off the pole section and then I had to remove a toad which somehow got into the erected tent while I was unpacking and securing the boat. I had a cold supper from a tin and set the alarm for 0330.

It was a chocolate box day in the morning followed by some good paddling in the semi open sea in the afternoon with a good following wind.