Temporary Gale force 8!

We have just completed our third 10 night sailing holiday in the Lofoten Islands. We were pleased to be joined this week by more old friends.  Liz and Dave had previously sailed with us in Iceland, and Lynn and Geoff sailed with us last year in the Lofotens.  We were also pleased to meet Ian and Kay, who were joining us for the first time.   The first night as usual was spent getting to know each other and discussing the itinerary.

The itineraries on all of our trips are tailored to suit the weather forecast.  We are always listening to the weather, and make our plans to allow us to sail during the day time and find safe protected harbours for the nights.  We use many sources to gather our information, the navtext, the barometer, the clouds, the internet, the shipping forecast (in Norwegian) and the VHF radio.  The weather is only announced in English on the VHF radio if a Force 7 or more is indicated – so whenever we hear the announcers voice in English we immediately tune in.

The early indications for this trip were light winds on the first day, moderate winds for the next couple of days and then strong south westerlies.  We decided to spend the first fews days exploring the south side of the Lofoten Islands, and then when the southerly winds came to head north of the Lofoten islands and sail in the protection of the land and flatter water.

We sailed a total of 272nm this trip.  We spent our first few days visiting Kjerringoy, Reine, Nusfjord, Ballstad and Haversand.  Ballstad was new to us and what a find – with lovely walks ashore.

As we headed north via Trollfjord and through the narrows towards the north coast, the barometer started to drop like a stone and we realised that we were in for ‘a good blow’.  This was backed up by the VHF warning us of a ‘Temporary Gale force 8’, but when and how long for?  Our next navtext weather update had no mention of a Gale, which surprised us until we noticed that it was the forecast for yesterday.

We holed up in a quite peaceful anchorage in Brottoya, in flat calm, and wondered if we would escape the gale!  It came, all 45 knots of it, just as we were dishing up the dinner.  It was hold on to your wine glasses as the boat heeled sharply in the anchorage!  We can monitor the wind speed from down below, and saw a gust reach 53.  Time for the cheeseboard to take our minds off it!

I took a quick peek outside, and although it was flat in the anchorage, I could see rolls of white horses and surf breaking on the rocks that protected our anchorage – and another yacht heading in to shelter.  Glad we were here and not there.

As quickly as it started, the wind died, and by the time we had finished dinner and washed up it was all gone – I guess that’s what they meant by temporary!

We set off again and sailed to Stokmarknes for lunch before investigating another new anchorage at Nesoy.  We were surrounded by puffins as we crept in between the rocks to this tiny cove.

We continued our lookout for wildlife, and spotted many more white tailed eagles, but despite seeing lots of shoals of fish on the surface still didn’t spot any whales.  A conversation with a local told us that they are much further north this year.

Our last day before returning to Bodo was perfect.  We sailed 40 miles across from Heningsvaer in the Lofoten islands and anchored in bright sunshine off a white sandy beach.  After piling into the dinghy to go ashore, there was time for a swim and a snorkel before the barbeque was ready to cook our burgers.

We all ate on deck in T shirts with the warmth of the evening sun on our backs and after toasting marshmallows in the embers of the fire Ian entertained us with number games.

Back in Bodo now and it’s a ‘holiday weekend’ with a funfair set up in the middle of the square.  Richard has promised me a trip on the waltzers later!