Cruising Logs: 2006 - A Scandinavian Cruise
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Passage to the W Coast

  It is amazing what changes 24 hours can bring. The forecast was for 20 knots from the NW , reducing overnight – not ideal when you want to go NW – but bearable. Lindesnes , or the Naze as the Brits called it is the roughest part of this coast but as we rounded the wind only went from 10 to 15 knots and it seemed a doddle. Within 20 minutes we had 20 knots but hoisted a No 2 on the assumption that this was as much as we were going to get. Later as we changed to the number 3 in 25 knots we had the same thought- but by 30 knots and the storm jib it dawned on us that we had a bit of a fight on our hands . By now the seas were horrid and the shore  ( in particular the harbour of Lista ) , with its marking on the chart of “dangerous waves” seemed out of the question and the safest option seemed to be to head offshore to deep water. This was now the third time we had worn storm sails in 5 days  Through the evening and night the boat sailed herself slowly to windward with the storm jib slightly over sheeted , the trysail slightly eased , the wheel locked and the anemometer reading a steady 35 knots. The seas were initially very confused – at one point the GPS gave up the unequal struggle of trying to keep track of its satellites and turned itself off, but after a while they became more benign and I began to enjoy myself. The nights at these latitudes were never particularly dark , the Northern horizon always being lit up , but on this occasion the clear sky and full moon meant that  it remained as clear as day ,which added to the grandeur of the scene . All forecasts were promising lightish winds for the following day and the barometer peaked at 1031  so it was only a matter of time , and sure enough by 0200 the wind levelled out at 20 knots  so we put the engine on and headed inshore to refuel and dry out briefly in Egesund . An hour later we were  motoring flat out into the wind to Jaerens Rev where the Western Sjkaergard might be said to begin  , the coast trends more east and we could hoist sails and fetch into shelter.

  Our destination was Kvitsoy , a group of islands sitting like a cork in the entrance to the Stavanger archipelago,  and looking as pretty as a picture in the bright evening sunshine. Here we had the great fortune to meet John Cooper , a medic who trained at Barts at the same time as me , but had married a Norwegian teacher and had  lived and worked near Stavanger for the last 20 years .His wife was born on the island, they were just back from a cruise to Sweden and were calling in to visit her mother . What was more incredible was they had a son of Bens age at Exeter university, all of which proved that it is a very small world indeed!

 After a pleasant morning yarning with the Coopers and finding out all the nice places we could visit ( sadly a years worth!) we slipped out into a gentle Southerly and hot sunshine  and  ran under light kite up to Haugesund where we were to meet the girls on the following day. The initial plan to hire a car to meet them was shelved when we couldn’t find a place to leave the boat unattended – so on Monday we sailed slowly in the unaccustomed drizzle to the little island of Røvœr whilst the girls  took the fast coastal boat down from Bergen to meet us.


The Stavanger archipelago

  With impeccable timing the skies cleared the next morning  and the wind went into the NW so we slalomed back south   under kite through the spectacular scenery of the island sounds and fjiords of the Ryfylkefjordene , an area that I think of as the Stavanger archipelago , although strictly speaking that is only a very small part of it. With 5 of us the gybes would not have disgraced an AC boat and after 3 hours of pleasant downwind sailing  we turned into the lovely natural harbour of Nodholmen in the lee of Nord-Talge. By now we were getting more confidant in our “bows to the rocks” mooring technique and adopted the Norwegian practice of barbecuing our evening meal on the rocks whilst various crew members explored the area in the Kayak. We had previously noted  the popularity of large pieces of  marinated meat on Norwegian barbecues and had purchased a suitably huge lump called inexplicably “Flintsteak”  Our dictionaries were unable to throw any light on just what kind of meat this was , until a friendly neighbour explained that the name referred to its size ,  in honour of the eating habits of Fred Flintstone!


  Our  cruising guide had suggested that you only had to drop a hook over the side to pick up as much cod as you liked – and certainly one of the Norwegian boats came back with a whopper after seemingly very little time . Thus during the very short trip next day to another astonishing anchorage  in the Buoysund we fished for mackerel , caught two and tried for Cod using the mackerel heads as bait in a relatively shallow passage nearby. Fairly soon Ben had a bite , pulling up a red fish of some sort (a red Gurnard we subsequently discovered) – and with both baits gone suggesting there were plenty of fish down there. Alas we lacked the patience to continue much longer – but our 3 fish were duly smoked on the rocks and were delicious at supper that night.

  This area is dismissed in the cruising guide as somewhere to explore if held up by bad weather , but its many islands give an almost infinite  number of anchorages. The scenery , with its backdrop of mountains and fjiords , is spectacular and the summer temperatures are higher than on the South Coast of England . The sea was 20 degrees  ( more in the more enclosed areas!) and whilst we undoubtedly had  superb weather , it would be hard to imagine a more attractive cruising ground. Some of the Norwegians we met said it was grander in the North , whilst others headed South for more predictable weather , but all of them admitted that even after many years  they had yet to fully explore this area.

 Later that evening  Lynda and I paddled out of our little Sound to admire the mountain scenery , and passing a British looking yacht ( similar to Wanderer 2 of Hiscock fame ), struck up a conversation with Ogve Stangeland and his  wife . He later came to visit us  and proved to be an entertaining character with a passion for restoring old wooden boats. He was obviously proud of and passionate about the area , and offered to help in any future visits.  


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