Last bit of mainland Norway

By |Published On: June 25, 2023|Categories: Europe, Norway|1016 words|0 Comments|

Our departure from Svolvær was accompanied by the usual flurry of little details; fuel, water, laundry. But we were off at 0930 and heading out on the first day of the trip to Tromsø. The sun shone brightly in a blue sky, a few puffy clouds wandered around above us and we motored along with no wind. Today’s trip would take us along the southern edge of the Lofoten islands to the channel that marks their boundary with the Vestålen, through this channel and into the Vestålen proper.

The islands here are dramatic, to say the least. They leap out of the ocean and charge straight up steeply through forest to heath, rock and ice. Small glaciers and snowpack cling to steep valleys and precipitous rockfaces. Glorious stuff! Meanwhile down on the water we chugged along in 22˚C of sunshine.

The channel north through the islands that we followed was the Raftsundet, a narrow bit of water where the four knot currents necessitate timing ones’ passage with the tides. We had enough time to spare to allow us to take a brief detour into the Trollfljord, a short 100m wide fjord that ends in a big bowl of valley, rimmed with ragged peaks of rock and ice.


Not surprisingly this little fjord is a tourist drawcard, visited by big cruise ships, independent boats like us, scores of highspeed RIB tours and kayakers alike. In an odd management decision, the Norwegians, who arguable developed cruise ship tourism and have 150 plus years of Fjord tourism experience under their belts, decided that, right in the middle of this beautiful tourist drawcard valley, it would be a good idea to build a hydro power station with huge pipes running up into the valley above. Clearly, they knew that the tourists wouldn’t care, the boats still come, people still rave about it and, while its disappointing to have the infrastructure so prominently there, it is still a lovely spot.

Our mooring that night was a small fishing village, Blokken, where we squeezed in amongst the fishing boats and dinghies on the jetty. Not a soul to be seen but after dinner an old bloke came wandering along and stopped to have a chat. He had been born there and, after working for years in Oslo and at sea, had retired back in Blokken with a bad back and a wonky heart. January and February were hard and dark, he said, but then the sun comes back and you forget all about that. Summer was fishing, hunting grouse, ptarmigan and rabbits, berries and relaxing with your two wives (one ex) and five grandchildren. Idyllic.


Day two of the journey was a fairly straightforward day of motoring. The breezes we encountered were very light and the sea was for most of the day a gently rolling or rippled mirror. Meanwhile the fjords and sounds have opened up and the mountains, while no less high, are now more rounded, scraped smooth by glaciers. They still rise steeply out of the sea and their skirts are still hemmed with beech and fir but their huge, high domes are snow, rock and lichen covered. They screamed out to be walked. This was where our friend from last night went with his bad back and faltering heart to hunt willow ptarmigan.

Blokken sunalmostset

Here we have suddenly started to see a bit of wildlife too. We saw our fourth seal since arriving in Norway, cormorants, common eider, arctic and common terns, white-tailed eagles, lots of small groups of puffins, our first jaeger (I’m going to say parasitic but it was a juvenile so…), guillemots, ravens, oyster catchers and gulls (herring, common, greater and lesser blackbacked, and kittiwakes. I think that was all. That is a big day for the Norwegian coast.


This evening we were anchored in a small pond hidden away through a maze of islands and channels, between Bårnøya and Helløya. With shallow bits all around it was a bit tricky to find our way in, but a friendly norwegian in his motorboat offered to guide us in. Lurvely spot. White-tailed eagles circled above and eider pottered around the water’s edge while oystercatchers shrieked about those things that oystercatchers shriek about.

Anchorage in small pond between two islands


The third day we were lucky enough to pass by a crowded kittiwake nesting colony on the southern side of Helløya. We were not the only ones interested, with two eagles hunting in the colony causing a lot of raucous amongst the nesting birds. Compared to that, the rest of the day was again an uneventful mix of motoring and sailing.

Along the way we bumped into a dutch ketch, Sarabande, and agreed to anchor together for a catch up that evening. That turned out to be in a small harbour called Djupvågen where we spent a lovely evening with Deborah and Matthijs on Sarabande, a Jade 44. Beautiful boat and a really nice couple. We shared snert (pea soup) with Groningse worst, homous and sourdough bread. Sarabande being from Groningen, their crew did appreciate the Dutch and Groningen delicacies for the meal, Yum! Matthijs had that afternoon signed off work for the next few months and so they were feeling particularly happy.

Kittiwake central

Next morning we were off for the final run into Tromsø. Again, no wind so we motored. The only remarkable event was passing through the Røyasundet where we did 9.5kts on a 4kt current. Yeehaa! There might have been wind in our hair had the wind not been slightly behind us.

We were in Tromsø and moored up in the harbour marina by 1730 and, after a wash on board, at 2000 we joined the Svalbard 2023 WhatsApp group for dinner. This is a group we’d only just found out about earlier in the week, but whom had been swapping ideas and plans for their trip to Svalbard for the last 6 months. They happily included us in a very pleasant evening and a delicious dinner.

Yuma in Tromsø Gjesthavn, with sauna on the left. How convenient!

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