A long and spectacularly breakfast watching from Dag’s terrace across Straumsundet

RSKE Y2D15 3 August 2019: Nakkevika to Tromsø. 46 km, 6.5 km/hr average speed. Left 1315, arrive 2350

A late dinner made for a late start, we bid farewell to Dag at 1315 and paddled out toward Grøtsundet in sunny weather and moderate headwinds.

As soon as we turned into Grøtsund the wind turned to tailwind and we made good progress toward our chosen lunch stop: Vågnes. There Per made the trips last cheese sandwiches.

We hadn’t paddled long after lunch before we saw the bridge across Sandessundet, the end point of the trip was in sight.

We took one last stop at the northern point of Tromsøya, before we set across Sandnessundet.

We got a reminder that it isn’t over till it’s over when we got into quite chaotic current driven waves as we went across. The water was flowing fast against us. We went to the NW side of the strait and took advantage of back eddies to make good progress.

It was almost midnight when we set the boats ashore at ALFA Fritid. That is Stein’s friend Alf Andrassen’s extremely well supplied kayak shop. Alf has kindly offered to store the boats for us until we start the next stage of the trip next year.

We had planned to just crash on the floor in the shop, but Per’s friend Dag Nilsen who received us so well in Nakkevik had driven home to Tromsø and insisted we stayed the night at his place.

We were happy to accept. Dag picked us up at about 0100 and it turned out the invitation included a three course dinner! And then a long and spectacularly breakfast watching from Dag’s terrace across Straumsundet.

A fantastic way to end this year’s stage!

We started the dinner with our standard toast: “No one has it better than us!”

RSKE Y2D14 2 August 2019: From Haugnes to Nakkevika, 45.5 km, 6.8 km/hr. We left about 1300 and arrived in Nakkevig at Per’s friend Dag’s cabin about 0100.

We had OK conditions all along, but the OK conditions did not appear all at once. We first crossed from Haugnes to Nord Lenangen, We bid Laila and Kåre farewell and thanked them for a full day of all inclusive accommodation. Conditions were perfect with just a little following wind and waves.

Per was even starting to compose a song about the trip. We all sang along. Just as well we were alone at sea.

The composing was temporarily abandoned once we came clear of Arnøy and were exposed to the waves and wind throug Fugløysundet. The wind picked up and changed 90 degrees, and ocean swell with wind driven crests replaced the gentle following waves.

We paddled the 21 km to Nordre Lenangen, but no way we were crossing Ullsfjorden in these conditions. Luckily we found a perfect landing in front of a boathouse with a shelter for hikers just behind. Yr.no suggested we stayed for a couple of hours. We decided it was dinner time.

After three hours rest the wind was supposed to come down. Maybe, maybe not. We decided to go out, follow land toward Søre Lenangen, and decide about crossing the fjord then.

By now we had an invitation to a snow crab dinner in Nakkevik.

The wind was still blowing strong when we arrived at Søre Lenangen. We asked ourselves if we would even consider to cross the fjord if it wasn’t for Dag and the dinner. No we wouldn’t. End of discussion. So we had to tell Dag we would be delayed for the snow crab dinner.

We changed to dry clothes and got some warmth into our bodies. After about and hour and a half the wind was coming down. It was 2300 when we paddled out. And 0030 when we saw a blinking torch light in Nakkevika. Dag greeted us at the beach and helped us with the boats, and led us to the cabin, the snow crab, the fresh shrimp, the cold beer and the conversation went on until 0400.

We started the dinner with our standard toast: “No one has it better than us!” ( since we max out on well-being from our perspective:-))

Tomorrow this year’s stage of RSKE will end in Tromsø. WP.

The hospitality along the coast along Finnmark and Troms is famous and in our experience rightfully so!

RSKE Year 2 Day 13 1st of August 2019: Waiting on weather on Arnøy. Today weather did not permit.

That was our good luck. That luck materialized itself in the shape of Kåre Nilsen. As Erling stuck his head out of the tent, Kåre was just on his way down to check on what the ocean had washed ashore overnight.

The hospitality along the coast along Finnmark and Troms is famous and in our experience rightfully so.

Kåre had one concern: How quickly would we be out of the sacks and ready for breakfast and coffee?

Answer was very quick indeed. When we came in Kåre’s wife Laila had coffee, smoked salmon and home baked bread and rolls ready. Luxury indeed.

It turned out Kåre was a retired teacher with a keen interest in local history. In particular what is known as the “Arnøy tragedy”. The tragedy occurred in August 1943 when 11 people were killed or executed by the Germans for assisting two Red Army partisans that were at Arnøy to report on German shipping activity to Kirkenes.

The small community of Arnøy thus became the community in Norway with the highest per capita casualties during WW2. The awareness and memory of these events are very much kept alive.

Not least by Kåre and Laila’s friends Edmund and Jorunn who have made a great effort to privately build a local museum documenting life and livelihoods on Arnøy in the old days.

The Arnøy tragedy features prominently, but most of the museum is dedicated to everyday life, from the kitchen to the workshop to the barn to the perhaps most important; boats and fishing gear.

Kåre drove us around Arnøy and gave a quick introduction before we spent a couple of hours in Edmund and Jorunn’s museum.

There is a phrase about “the good old days”, and surely people had their joyful moments then as now. But what the museum documents is first and foremost “the hard old days”. And how new innovations like electricity, the combustion engine, tools and technology to build proper breakwaters etc, slowly but surely transformed the hard old days to the times of relative effortless affluence that we enjoy here and now.

Speaking of luxury. When we got home to Laila and Kåre’s well built and well kept cabin, a luxurious dinner was ready.

And so was the annex where we will sleep tonight.

Tomorrow the weather looks more permitting and we hope to make our penultimate leg toward Tromsø.

But first a good nights sleep in Laila and Kåre’s annex.

It took a little bit of effort, but after 1,5 hours we were leeward of Arnøya (Eagle island)

RSKE Year 2 Day 12 31st of July 2019: Andsnes to Haugnes. 41 km, 5 km/hr average speed. On water 1315, arrived 2230. Now we are in Troms!

We were greeted good morning by a few curious and very welcoming people of various generations as we stuck our heads out of the tents at about 1000. All were there on vacation.

In particular Anne and Kristian took an interest in our endeavors and our well being and calorific balance.

We had breakfast consisting of coffee layer cake and “commuter cake” . Anne is a baker. It both tasted well and provided a solid foundation for the crossings of Kvæangen.

Anne was also into rocks, it turned out the Andsnes area was of international renown for its geology and rare minerals. Tempting for Erling to stay and have a look, but we needed to take advantage of favorable weather to cross Kvænangen.

We were on the water at 1315 and soon stuck the bows of the boats out behind Brynillen. After a quick discussion we decided the weather was OK to cross straight over to the northern end of Lauksundet.

It took a little bit of effort, but after 1,5 hours we were leeward of Arnøya (Eagle island).

We took a break just on the inside of Lauksundet. Since we had cake for breakfast we decided we could add to the confusion by having a full spaghetti dinner (a la Per) for lunch.

Thus fortified we made for a second leg to Haugnes. It was a bit harder work, but we made it at 2230.

No sign of life around Haugnes at that hour so we pitched the tent at the (rolling stone) beach close to a boathouse where we could get the kayaks easily on shore.

We then ate our lunch plus some commuter cake and went to sleep

Tomorrow we cross over first to Leangen and then to Reinøy. Weather permitting. Judging from the interesting cloud formations as we landed at Haugnes, that is a big if.

Details to follow.

RSKE YEAR 2 Day 11 30th of July 2019: Nuvsvåg to Andsnes. 49 km, 6.0 km/hr average speed. Start 1815 arrive 0400.

A long day with good progress. Some key “points of resistance” passed during the night. Details to follow.

We have great respect for Lopphavet, not least Nuvsodden and Bergsfjord. When we looked over in direction Nuvsodden Tuesday morning we saw nothing but white crested waves.

A quick touch base with our friends from Rogaland revealed that this was the first time in 15 years they had been here that they had taken two consecutive wait-on-weather days.

However, the forecast for the evening was better. We decided to prepare to give it a try if the forecast held up. Preparing meant a packing our stuff, taking a nap and eating a solid entrecôte dinner in preparation for a nights paddle.

At about 1630 our friends from Rogaland decided to try to haul their lines. The wind was falling and we decided to go out and see what we could do, at least getting to Bergsfjord looked doable.

One problem. It was low tide, which meant we had quite a distance to carry our gear and the boats. Except that is not a problem when Stian is the host. He helped us carry the boats and drove our gear to the launch site.

1815 we were on the water and five hours later we finally paused at Holmsundet at the NW end of Sandalsfjord. We had passed Nuvsodden with no wind, but as we paddled in Bergsfjord the “wind tunnel” effect we had speculated in appeared and we got some tail winds and following seas. Once we turned around the southern tip of Silda it was all calm again. We paddled NW with the setting sun low against us and the fjord to ourselves. An almost magic moment.

Once we had paused at Holmsund we decided to try for a bay 8 km before Andsnes or even Andsnes itself.

In the end conditions were good with following swell and we made such good progress we went for Andsnes. Also to be closer to take advantage of any good weather window to cross Kjøvangen next day.

We arrived Andsnes at 0400, not expecting to meet anyone. Fortunately, one man greeted us at the beach and we could ask if it was OK to pitch our tents for a night. No problem. Not so fortunately he was out to walk his sick dog.

We did a quick check that the dog hadn’t been sick on our chosen tent place. Negative. We set a record in tent pitching, was in bed by 0500 and set the alarm for 1000 to be ready for favorable weather and currents the next day.

Wednesday we planned to cross Kjøvangen. Weather permitting.

As most good fishing trips it took a bit longer than planned. Dinner was at 0030 rather than the (optimistically) planned 2100

RSKE2018 Y2D10 29th of July: Today we did the rest of Nuvsvåg. Nuvsvåg is a small community with only 46 inhabitants during the winter months. It has a local road, but it is not possible to get here without taking the ferry. The road connects Nuvsvåg to the ferry to Øksfjord. The houses are spread along a couple of kilometers on each side of our cabins here at Arctic Nuvsvåg. Yesterday we walked east to the end of the community, today we walked west past the closed school to the quay and the shop that supplies the community. Open from 10 to 13.

Along the quay lay more than a dozen aluminum fishing boats for hire. Two companies run businesses focused on visiting fishermen, like our friends from Rogaland next door. We understand most of the fishers come from Europe, including Russia.

We shopped three days supplies for a comfortable existence, and we were very happy to accept an offer to drive our groceries to our cabin and put it in the kitchen. Meanwhile we explored a further km to the west. Small and well maintained houses with “corrugated iron” roofs.

After we had finished exploring Nuvsvåg we had a heavy brunch and a quick rest…. Afterwards Per and Erling decided to try the trout fishing in the small lakes in Jomfrudalen.

Meanwhile Stein was reading a book about local post war history he had borrowed from the library in the shop.

They got to borrow fishing rods and spinners from our always attentive hosts Stian and Mette. They run the fishing camp and a small shop with two petrol pumps. Statoil pumps. Must be some of the last in the country.

The fishing trip was a success in as much as it was a spectacular scenery and eventually enough fish to provide a fresh trout dinner.

But as most good fishing trips it took a bit longer than planned. Dinner was at 0030 rather than the (optimistically) planned 2100.

Tomorrow will be another waiting on weather day. At least we chose a good place to wait.

Two sporty ladies, mother and daughter, The eldest was 80!

RSKE2018 Y2D9 28 July 2019: What a day In Nuvsvåg! Kids were, if not swimming, at least wading in the bay. Weather forecast in Bergsfjord was still on the high side regarding wind, so we didn’t jump in the boats.

After a leisurely breakfast Per and Erling decided to hike to the top of the 940 m high Kollaren, the moutain that makes the entry to Nuvsvåg so spectacular.

They struggled to find the start of the path, possibly because there isn’t much of a path, this isn’t a mountain that is very much visited.

But today was obviously the day not only to dip toes in the Arctic Ocean, but also to scale Kollaren. We met all of four people:-) First we met our host Stian and a friend from Sunnmøre. We knew they were up there, Stian inspired the trip in the first place.

The second encounter was more impressive: Two sporty ladies, mother and daughter, The eldest was 80! The terrain was so steep we had to take care not to release stones as we walked. We met them as they were about to cross a boulders scree. Very impressive. They also gave us good advice on the path up.

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As we walked to the top we could see across Lopphavet. It was nothing like the forecast, it would have been a perfect day to cross. But it was also a perfect day to hike on Kollaren. And a good thing to have a rest day after eight days of paddling. No regrets.

We followed the ladies advice also on the return and it took us through slightly gentler terrain.

As we came down, we looked back and found Kollaren shrouded in clouds again. The weather window had closed. We made a quick detour to the graveyard. Graveyards often tell stories round here. Like the the memorial to those who did got get a grave because they were “lost at sea”, a not uncommon cause of death up here before the modern times and modern boats.

The first “entry” on the column is the brother of the grandfather of a colleague and friend of Erling who has spent his childhood summers up here across the fjord at Sommarnes.

While Per and Erling were up at Kollaren, Stein had investigated Nuvsvåg itself. As is his habit and nature he had got to know quite a few people. And from new found friends from Rogaland he had been gifted cod for dinner.

With Per’s competent handling it made for a perfect end to another spectacular day.

While the outer part of the fjord has winds of 7 m/s the inner fjord had gale force winds of 13 m/s.

RSKE2018 Y2D8/ 27 July 2019: From Storsjøneset to Nuvsvåg. 20.3 km, 5.0 km/hr average speed,

Considering weather and currents, we set the alarm to 1500. After a long dinner for breakfast we packed the tents and were on the water 1830. A spectacular campsite.

Head winds and currents made for slow progress the first three hours or so. We took our first break in Sandbukta just after Øksfjorden.

By now it was 2130, so time for lunch. We spent the lunch break studying the weather forecast at yr.no. As we crossed Øksfjord we could see the waves moving along the horizon on Lopphavet. The horizon isn’t far away when your eyes are 80 cm above the water, bu still those were sizable waves and Lopphavet is an infamous stretch along the coast. So good reason to study the weather forecast.

Our plan was to paddle in Bergsfjord where we hoped to find shelter from the wind and waves. Wishful thinking we soon found out. At the current NÉ wind direction Bergsfjorden acts like a funnel amplifying the wind and waves rather than giving shelter. While the outer part of the fjord has winds of 7 m/s the inner fjord had gale force winds of 13 m/s. We had to assume the waves would be amplified similarly.

It can be fun to play and train in such conditions with an empty boat and sheltered waters within reach if someone swims, but this was different. We have heavy boats and we saw no good sheltered patches along the fjord, and it was “mare incógnita ” for all of us. In short Bergsfjord was off for today.

What was on? Camping in the mosquito infested lunch stop was not an attractive option. Stein and Per took to Google. Right round the corner was Nuvsvåg. It had a chapel, better still it had a shop, and best of all it had Arctic Nuvsvåg, a tourist facility cater for fishermen. A quick phone call, and we had shelter for the night in a cabin.

The cabin came with top service. Stian, who runs the place with his wife, came down to the beach with his 4×4 and drove us up to the cabin. He then took us to the “garage” where fish is cleansed and frozen so we could clean our gear in freshwater. It was 0200 when was done and a small nightcap drunk. But the light did not go out. We went to sleep with the midnight sun straight in the window.

As of now we plan to stay until Wednesday morning, since steady NE force 6 winds will blow in Inner Bergsfjord Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

We decided it was time for a night paddle. At night the winds tend to die away.

RSKE2018 Y2D7/8: 26/27 July 2019: From Komagfjord to Storsjøneset in Stjernsundet. 38,6 km, 4,5 km/hr average speed.

The weather forecast across “Verdenshavet” had not improved overnight. After a long and enjoyable breakfast we decided it was time for a night paddle. At night the winds tend to die away. We planned an ca 1900 start, after dinner.

Meantime the house was busy. Mette and Asle were about to leave back for Oslo, but first some crab traps had to be hauled, and a longline for Halibut and four suitcases had to be packed max weight with crab and fish, house cleared and boat washed etc.

We got to help out with the longline and boat wash. It’s easy to feel at ease as guests when the hosts feel free to ask us to give a hand. Thanks again for the hospitality!

We bid Mette and Asle farewell as they left, we should stay a couple of hours more and wait out the weather. That included packing the boats, cooking dinner and a little rest. Mette and Asle had contacted us from Storekorsnes and suggested we stayed for another night given the wind conditions.

We decided to give it a try and see what we could do, but obviously no need to hurry. It was 1930 when we paddled out Komagfjord and straight into headwinds. We had slowish progress and some waves to handle across to Storekorsnes.

Looking from Storekorsnes across “Verdenshavet” we decided a long break was in order.

Finally the wind started to subside and we set out at 2330. By now the overcast weather had created enough of a dusk to turn the streetlights in Storekorsfjord on. A first touch of autumn, midnight sun or not.

“Verdenshavet” was true to its reputation, because five different straights and fjords feed into it, all with its own wind direction, waves were coming a little bit from everywhere. Nothing troubling but it did not help progress.

As we got across to Stjernsund the wind did subside, but go away it didn’t. A very long story short, we arrived at Storsjøneset just across the fjord from the Nefelin mines at 0645 after seven hours plus in the kayaks with just two quick stops to stretch legs and backs.

As we arrived a small herd of reindeer move away, but in no hurry. Four eagles were playing just in and out of the low clouds overhead. And the wind had started to pick up again.

We set the alarm for 1400. No point in being on the water before earliest 1700 given the forecast.

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