Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back to Bergen

Twister sailed into Bergen harbor the evening of Monday 10 August, 2015 , a few days short of two years since first arriving in Norway, ending this summer’s Norwegian cruise.  I had hoped to sail farther north, but found myself short of gumption* and maybe time.  Like a good chef, the Norwegian coast did leave me wanting more.
In Samoa I met an English sailor who claimed that he always felt ill at ease in The Southern Hemisphere (since he belonged in The Northern Hemisphere). There is a similar phenomenon among tradewind sailors (or at least me) when they venture into higher latitudes and their capricious winds.  Therefore it’s generally comforting to sail in the direction of the tropics.

Updated photo album from this summer's cruise here.

The long version: 

After Bridget disembarked on Moskenesøy Saturday July 11, I took a nap then sailed south past the renowned Moskenstraumen to Værøy, known among other things for a dog, lundehund, bred there to hunt Puffins.  Just before I entered the harbor, I dropped the fishing line overboard and pulled in four small Pollock which I later shared with my new friends.
 I spent a week at Værøy and made friends. Among the highlights were a local delicacy called Rødsei (red pollock) or gammalsalta sei (old salted pollock), smoked minke whale, and a helicopter ride around the island. Rødsei could be the oldest food I have consumed, aside maybe from wine or whiskey. This particular batch was apparently 6 years old. The fish is gutted but not bled and left in concentrated brine, the blood contributing the red color which gives it one of the names.  Sounds delicious, right?
Værøy viewed from helicopter
I sailed southwest from Værøy toward Røst, the outermost islands in the Lofoten chain, but was deterred by fresh southwesterlies that came up as I was halfway. Rather than beating into the wind and waves for hours I submitted my will to Neptune and headed southeast across Vestfjorden and arrived the island of Bolga (which I had never heard of before) around 6 in the morning.  Bolga is typical of many of the small island communities I visited in Norway:  The buildings, lawns, and pastures are immaculate, few permanent residents remain, and probably most of the houses are now summer homes for descendants of the previous residents. The Norwegian government has a conscious policy of encouraging people to remain in remote or out-of-the- way places by, among other things, subsidizing ferries and other transportation, but it is apparently not entirely successful.

I had a lovely downwind sail south-southwest along the inside passage from Bolga toward Lovund (an island known primarily for its large colony of Puffins) passing along the way one of the monuments that mark the arctic circle. I decided to stop among the skerries near Lovund as it was getting late and caught a delicious cod before anchoring for the night (the fishing in northern Norway is really good). The next morning I motored into the harbor at Lovund and tied up at the council pontoon.  Puffins are camera-shy, but I did get my best Puffin photo at Lovund thanks to a tip from a resident about when they (the Puffins, not the other residents) return to their nests from the days foraging at sea (between 18:00 and 19:00).
Best Puffin Photo
A slow 3-day passage in the Norwegian Sea (if I want to make miles, I have to head offshore where there are no obstacles so I can sleep and thus sail day and night) took me from Lovund to a small community, Bud (where coincidentally one of my messages-in-a-bottle from The North Sea washed up and was found) in the county of Møre og Romsdal. The next day a lovely downwind sail along the inside passage, under the A-sail to the island of Vigra.
Four days were spent in the fjords and mountains south of Ålesund (Sunnmørealpene), accompanied by the lovely Henriette. We caught a couple of lunch-sized Pollock as we approached the village of Barstadvik then were given a dinner-sized Pollock by a friendly local as we tied to the rough concrete wharf. The big Pollock was filleted and became fish tacos, SoCal style. 
Henriette departed too quickly and Twister sailed on to another small island called Runde, site of the southernmost of the Norwegian Puffin colonies.
The peninsula known as Stad or Stadlandet is infamous in Norwegian sailing lore due to big,
Stad on a calm day
steep waves generated when wind and waves go against the current. Northbound, I had been 25 miles offshore. This time I passed 2-3 miles from Stad, but it was calm and I did not notice any current. I sailed through the night beating into the southerlies that came up and ended up at Bulandet, a group of islands among the outer islands in the county of Sogn og Fjordane. There I caught up on sleep. It took me 3 days to sail the remaining 70 miles to Bergen, tacking into strong southerlies all day and anchoring for the night in two nice anchorages I found among the islands north of Bergen.
Now Twister resides in Sandviken, near Bergen’s city center, resting up for new adventures in 2016.

*In Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig expounds and expands on gumption. In American English, it means “courage and initiative; enterprise and boldness” (Webster’s New World Dictionary, 2nd college ed.). Pirsig defines it as the psychic energy that fuels any enterprise, be it fixing a motorcycle or sailing. One can run out of gumption, but fortunately it can be replenished (by among other things, taking a rest). Not being sufficiently well prepared--practically or mentally--can cause gumption to run out. Having confidence in your boat helps conserve gumption (that's me talking now). 

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