Last of the Midnight Sun

After a really busy summer with short 3 day turnarounds between our first 3 long trips, Richard and I were thrilled to have a slightly longer break before the start of this trip.

We are often asked if we spend the time between trips getting out and about, but the simple answer to that is no.  By the time we have done the laundry, the shopping, made up the cabins and cleaned the boat, kept up with the maintenance, and checked out the weather for the next trip, our 3 days have passed.  We manage to get a bit of a rest in that period, but we are also always adding to our ‘to do’ list.

Whenever we have a longer gap, we try and tick off as much as we can from the to do list, but also have a bit of time to ‘treat’ourselves.  So what do we do for a treat in a foreign country.  Well last week we ‘treated’ ourselves to dinner and a movie.  Dinner was a pizza and beer, followed by Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in ‘Knight and Day’. All the films in Norway are still in English with Norwegian sub titles, so that helps a lot.  Only problem was, we had not thought the cinema would be so full, and we never thought about ‘allocated’ seats, so although we were in the back row – Richard was at one end of the row and I was at the other.  I enjoyed the film (and I think Richard did, although he was sitting next to a 10 year old munching popcorn).  Full of ‘action;’ it reminded me of Tom Cruise in his Mission Impossible days, so much so that I am now looking for MI3 on DVD as I never managed to see that one first time round.

So relaxed after a day of rest and our treat, we were all set and ready to go for the first of our shorter 7 night Lofoten Islands trip.  Our guests arrived and amongst the 6 of them 2 were sailors and the other 4 were relatively new to sailing.  All had come to see the Lofoten Islands, do some sailing, but also climb a hill.  We knew just which hill to take them to.  Here in Bodo, the sun now sets although it still does not go dark.  To catch the last of the midnight sun we had to go further north, and climb a hill which gave us a clear view of the northern horizon.

The wind was light as we motored across to the Lofoten islands and made our way up to Digermulen, a very small town on the island of Hinnoya.  The town lies at the foot
of Keiservarden, a 384m hill, to be climbed after dinner. The aim to be on the top at midnight and catch a glimpse of the sun still above the horizon.

With light wind again the next day we motored north to look for trolls in Trollfjord, before heading south again to anchor in Haversand for a BBQ.  Although we have been into Trollfjord on most of our trips, we have never before noticed so much bird life.  There were hundreds of black eyed guillemots nesting on the sheer rock. What stops them falling off I wonder.

At the beginning of the week, Marina had expressed a wish to see a sea eagle flying.  We were not disappointed, we saw sea eagles on every day this last week and some of them from really close up.  On our last day there were 5 soaring above us as we left our lunch time anchorage and headed back to Bodo.

Despite this trip being 3 days shorter than our previous ones we still sailed 192 miles and visited 7 stunning places, including a new anchorage with many birds.  Jo, Marina and Chris went walking ashore amongst wonderful flowers and butterflies, whilst Mike and Mary fished for our supper.  Our newcomers to sailing were broken in gently at the beginning of the week, with sunshine and flat seas and learnt about tacking at the end of the week on an exciting beat home!  The sun shone for our last afternoon in Bodo, and with a couple of 6 packs of beer from the supermarket we sat in the cockpit and learnt to play ‘Liar Dice’.

Getting ready now for our final Lofoten Islands trip before we start on our coastal sailing, milebuilding and ocean passage trips.  We again have a slightly longer break – and this time our planned treat – a visit to the hairdressers!

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!

Lofoten Islands 10 night sailing holiday

Picture this!

10pm. We are sitting at anchor in a quiet secluded anchorage.  We spent the evening snorkelling and fishing.  Dinner is  over and the washing up done.  We are quietly reading and playing sudoko when there is a loud knocking noise on the side of the boat.  There, in a rowing boat, is a local from one of the few houses on the shore.  ‘Welcome, we would like to invite you to our house for a drink ‘.  How could we turn down such hospitality, and so armed with bottles of wine we clambered into his rowing boat and were ferried ashore to the family holiday house on their private island!  The house was warm and inviting, heated by a log burning fire and thermostatically controlled by opening and closing the door.  Apparently during the season there is about one yacht per night at anchor in the bay and these friendly people, attracted by our British ensign, wanted to know what had brought us to the Lofoten Islands, and how we heard about this tiny little anchorage.  In return we were entertained with stories of their lifestyle, whilst sampling their home made smoked salmon and dried fish.

This is just one of the memories of our second 10 night Lofoten Islands trip.

We had a great time, sailing 252 miles including 2 nights on the northern side of the Lofoten Islands.

Our first night on ‘The dark side’ , in the sheltered anchorage at Nordvagen, Dave went digging for cockles on the beach at low water.  Within the hour he was busy in the galley, gently steaming them in white wine before dishing them up on a bed of freshly caught seaweed as a starter.

We visited 11 different  places during our 9 days sailing,  a mix of fishing ports and isolated anchorages, including a stunning new anchorage to add to our list of favourites.  We sailed under 3 bridges this week and each time had to hold our breath as there never looks like there is enough room.  We saw many eagles and even an otter, but despite being on the constant look out, still no whales.

We had a mix of wind conditions, ranging from close reaching at 8 knots to motoring in glassy calm seas.  We gybed many times during the week but as we approached Bodo on our last day we realised that during the week we hadn’t tacked once!  Much to the bemusement of the boat behind us, for our last gybe of the trip, we went the long way round and tacked through the wind to a round of applause.

After so many nights of peaceful anchorages, it was a bit of a shock to the system to arrive back in Bodo on a Friday evening and be surrounded by people.  With everyone wondering around in T shirts and shorts, it certainly looks like the summer holiday season has started.  We joined the locals on the terrace and toasted the end of the trip with some well earned local Arctic Beer.

Due to a recent cancellation there is still a chance to join us in the Lofoten Islands for a 7 night holiday at a reduced price of £675, and one last space on the coastal cruise from Bodo to Bergen