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.

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.

We got help with the kayaks and three cold beers in our hands on our way to a sauna with a view!

RSKE2018 Y2D6: 25 July 2019: Hammerfest to Komagfjord. 50.1 km, 6.8 km/hr average speed.

We got on the water at 1010 and paddled down toward Vargsundet heading for Mette and Asle who are long time friends of Per and Stein. They live in Oslo, but spend as much time as they can up here.

We had a very enjoyable paddle for most of the day the currents were with us, the sun was not only shining but warming well. If we plan for more than half an hours break we try to take off our wet and salty paddling clothes and change to warm and dry clothes. At our first break at Komagneset, we didn’t need to bother with the last part. Better to just be warm and dry in the sun. We stopped short of taking a dip though…

The last leg to Komagfjord was more normal. The currents turned and the wind picked up. For once we had winds stronger than forecast on yr.no, but they were following winds. It had started to rain when we arrived at Asle and Mette’s place in Komagfjord at 1900 hours, two hours ahead of our estimate.

No problem. The catch of the day was ashore, we got help with the kayaks and three cold beers in our hands on our way to a sauna with a view!

Mette and Asle had agonized over our visit. What to serve? Freshly caught Halibut or equally freshly caught Kamchatka Crab? They went for a half meter high pile of crab. A fantastic dinner and followed by a much longer evening than we are used to on these trips.

Asle is a super eager fisherman and very well known in the fjords around here. We got some good and detailed advice. It turned out that the crossing from Komagfjord to Stjernfjord is called “the world ocean” by the local fishermen. That is because winds and currents come from all directions, more or less at the same time. Unruly and unpredictable.

Tomorrow’s forecast is 10 m/s when we planned to cross. We will delay departure and head for Øksfjord in the late afternoon. Wether Permitting.

No way the wind could have moved Stein’s neoprene boots. That must have been the fox.

RSKE18 Y2D5: 24 July 2019: Ytre Pollen to Hammerfest, 39 km, 6.2 km/hr average speed. We weren’t quick on the water today either. Our bodies ordered more rest when the alarm went on at 0700.

The rain was drumming on the tents and the winds that had spread our (wet and heavy) clothes hung out to dry, had still not fully subsided .

We deicided to try again at 0900. The wind was gone by then, but the rains persisted. But now we needed to get a move on.

First task find the things the wind had moved. Nothing lost. But no way the wind could have moved Stein’s neoprene boots. That must have been the fox. Tactfully, Per and Erling have left Stein to wonder about why the fox would consider his boots as food without further comments or suggestions.

As we were ready to pack camp the captain of the 36 foot sailing boat anchored a few hundred meters away came over to visit. His name was Christoph, just like our friend and helped from last year on Silvertärnan.

This Christoph was a French doctor working for the moutain rescue in the alps. Soon he and Stein were discussing the details of Garmin InReach. Good thing about a trip like ours is that the people we meet have interesting stories to tell. Christoph and crew had hoped to go to Svalbard, but got delayed and now their goal was Nordkapp.

Again it was 1115 before we were on the water. First leg became a 28 km 4 3/4 hour crossing to get to the northern part of Kvaløya. It may sound boring, but we paddle through small flocks of seabirds and the occasional whale will come up to blow. And the conditions were superb. No reason to worry about rain when you are in a dry suit. We were on the alert for changes in weather. Poor cell phone coverage meant that we only had the forecast from yesterday.

Still, we would have stopped earlier if we had found a suitable place, but we couldn’t. Again we think twice before we commit to long crossings. If the weather deteriorates it might become very long and hard crossings indeed. In the end we took a short break at some slippery rocks with line of sight to the Equinor LNG plant on Melkøya.

Then on to Hammerfest where we arrived at 1900. There we checked in at Thon Hotel at the waterfront. As pointed out earlier we are here to enjoy, not to suffer.

We found an restaurant nearby and ate well on food from the Sea. This is also where Gerd joined us for a beer. Gerd lives in Tromsø and is a friend of Alf who runs the kayak shop in Tromsø and is a friend of Stein.

Stein has had a problem with his back hatch cover and that is not something you can replace easily. Stein found a makeshift solution. He also called Alf when the problem was discovered. Alf posted the problem on his FB page. Gerd was visiting family in Hammerfest and volunteered to bring the hatch here.

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Thanks a lot to both!! It is best to have your kayak absolutely ship shape in these waters. Makeshift solutions doesn’t cut it.

Tomorrow we aim for Per’s friends Asle and Mette in Komagfjord. We have been assured that the sauna will be ready by 2100. But that particular sauna is 51 km away. Forecast is good. Boats are ship shape. It’s down to the “motors”. Better get some sleep:-)

Current against and aching bodies didn’t allow for any speed records

RSKE18 Y2D4: 23 July 2019: Gjesvær to “Ytre Pollen”, 51 km, 6.1 km/hr average speed.

We stayed at the guesthouse of “Ola’s bird safari” for the night. Since we arrived after closing hours for the guesthouse the owners had to come down and help us out. No problem. Since the shop was also closed and the restaurant was closed on Mondays, we got to borrow Ola’s car to go to Honningsvåg to shop.

We had entrecôte for dinner. We are here to enjoy not to suffer!!:-)

We met and got into conversations with several other guests as well. Both in the evening and after an egg and bacon breakfast. Both interesting and enjoyable, but it takes time to enjoy and we were not on the water until 1115 in time to catch a little following current before the head current set in.

We planned for a 40 plus km paddle to Store Latøy. We paddled on and took just two quick stops the last one in Havøysund. There we met a local fisherman and two of his great grandchildren as they came down to look at the kayaks (and/or the smelly guys paddling them). Anyways he tipped us about a place about 10 km onward from Store Latøy called Pollen.

We took advice but postponed the decision, a bit long and a bit late. However when we got to Store Latøy we had perfect conditions and a 10 km crossing we could “bag”. Round here it’s smart to take advantage of good conditions while they last. So we slogged on. Current against and aching bodies didn’t allow for any speed records but we got to Ytre Pollen at 2100.

We found a good campsite and cooked a meal of double rations sausage and double ration mashed potatoes, onions, bacon, leeks and no saving on the butter. This was a clear improvement in the culinary standard Stein and Erling are used to. Thanks to Per’s ability to add a little extras to the camp meals.

Not only did Stein and Erling enjoy this, so did a fox that appeared out of nowhere as we rushed to set up the tents during an unexpected downpour.

Tents done we turned to see the fox run away and dropping a small plastic bag as he ran. That was our two remaining sausages…

We secured the rest of the food in the kayaks and went to sleep. A long day, close to midnight and light drizzle, no point in postponing a much needed rest. Tomorrow we plan to reach Hammerfest. W.P.

RSKE2018 Year 2 Day 3 – 22 July 2019 – (Y2D3)

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Y2D3 Monday 22 July. We left Helnes Fyr at 0810 and arrived at Gjesvær 1705. 41 km, 5.8 km/hr average speed.

We had a comfortable nights sleep at Helnes, but we were still a tad bit slow when the alarm went off at 0545. No pardon, weather and current forecast set us a target of 1330 at Knivskjellodden.

It ended up as one long stage, we sat continuously in the boat for a little more than five hours. It’s not like you can go ashore as and when you wish round here.

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Those five hours took us around Nordkapp and Knivskjellodden (which lies a little bit further north than Norkapp).

And then to the first (shell) sand beach we have landed on since before we crossed the Varangerfjord.

And the weather was almost as forecast, only better. Less wind, more sun and warmer than forecast. Might well have been the best day of summer round here. Our good “weather luck” has not left us.

We took a good long break at Tunes amongst the ruins of a fisher community once large enough to have its own graveyard. As boats grew larger they outgrew the beach landing at Tunes, and the settlement was abandoned.

On our short visit Per fired up the stove and produced cheese sandwiches.

Well rested and fed we set out on the last leg of today toward Gjesvær . We needn’t have worried about the wind…

Just as we paddled into Gjesvær harbor a small gust of the forecast wind shoved up, but now at 2300 it is dead calm again

Tomorrow we aim for Havøysund, before we go on to overnight at Store Latøya. WP.

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