Day 139 – Harald got out his guitar and the session around the camp fire lasted till (at least) 0400 – 18 July

Day 139. 18th of July.

Since the sun is up all day and night it is a bit arbitrary where to start an update. This one starts yesterday afternoon when Sture, Are, Magnus and Erling started walking toward Dagen pond to try our luck with trout and char.

Weather was marvelous, but the fish were difficult, not until about midnight did Sture and Erling get any luck, but then we landed three nice trouts in a small hour.

By then Are and Magnus had gone to fish in another pond, but as Sture and Erling came back toward the cabin at about 0200, we found them and other neighbors around cabin neighbors Camilla and Harald’s camp fire.

Harald got out his guitar and the session around the camp fire lasted till (at least) 0400.

Too late to eat the fish, so that was postponed till an midday brunch before we packed up and left the cabin.

On the way to Berlevåg, Sture dropped off Erling in Kongsfjord where he will stay the next few days and enjoy the company of fellow paddlers Dag Norum, his wife Turid and a lot of weekend guests on occasion of their 20th wedding anniversary.

After dinner with Turid, Dag and Dag’s brother Ragnar, plus a short walk with a view, Erling checked into the last free room in a nearby hostel, so he will be well rested on Friday when we continue.

But first Thursday, when the plan is a combo of paddling and mountain walking. Unless the weather is simply too hot!!

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Day 137 – Don’t send the shrinks just yet, we feel that we are on track to a full recovery – 16 July

Day 137. 16th of July. A day on a roof with a view.

Except for a visit to Sture’s cabin neighbors Harald and Camilla, Erling and Sture spent the day on the roof. It is a roof with a great view, but we mostly looked down and bent down. We finished about 2230, and the last few hours we could feel that we aren’t twenty any more.

If anyone on Kongsfjordfjellet thought they heard someone sing “vi har ikke ellediller eller krokofanter, men vi har to gamlinger på taket”, we won’t deny that it possibly may have occurred, but don’t send the shrinks just yet, we feel that we are on track to a full recovery.

Other than mending the roof, Sture also decided to dry the cabin once and for all from the inside, he kept his oversized oven burning and the temperature was like a sauna. We had to eat outside, which was pleasant enough in the spectacular summer weather.

Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be even better.

Hopefully the summer lasts long enough to get Stein and Erling to Hammerfest without too much waiting on weather!

Day 136 – A wealthy Chinese tourist fell in love with Berlevåg and an evolving Chinese connection has developed – 15 July

Day 136. 15th of July. Berlevåg.

Last night we went to the Pub in Berlevåg for a pizza, and met up with a couple of old acquaintances of Sture. Sture enjoyed a game of verbal fencing with his old mates, amicable, but in a language not suited for the faint hearted.

In stead of going back to the cabin we joined Sture’s brother John and his partner Linda and her son Magnus in the Troli house in Berlevåg. We visitors on the first floor and while Sture and John’s 94 years old mother, Torbjørg, resides on the second floor.

After breakfast we went to the new school in Berlevåg to watch the first ever Chinese fashion show in Norway. Part of the Chinese film days that happens in conjunction with the Berlevåg days.

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Apparently a wealthy Chinese tourist fell in love with Berlevåg some years back and an evolving Chinese connection has developed.

Berlevåg is a community of about 1000 people, growing to about 2000 during next week’s Berlevåg days.

It’s a thriving community competing with Ålesund for the top place in amount of fish landed each year.

Where there is fish there are seagulls. In Berlevåg’s case there must be about 20 per person. It’s a pest, occupying every near horizontal ledge on most houses in the harbor. Hitchcock’s “The Birds” come to mind.

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But Berlevåg is trying to diversify away from fisheries and into energy: Wind power to hydrogen. There is no shortage of wind, but the energy is stranded since no adequate power lines exist for export. So a pilot plant for production and export of Hydrogen will be built.

On the energy theme Erling was a bit amused to find what must be one of the last remaining “good old” Statoil signs on the main street.

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One era was and another may just be about to start.

On the way back to the cabin after a Chinese buffet! and a French world cup victory, Erling listened to Sture and his brother Bjørn talking about their experiences growing up and working on fishing boats in the Barents sea outside Berlevåg.

It was stories about riches and tragedy in equal measure, and Erling’s respect for the crossings ahead is growing.

On the other hand every day has its calm part, particularly at night. We also went west to scout some good spots from which to start the crossing to Nordkyn peninsula.

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Stein will be back Friday, and Saturday looks like a perfect day for a safe crossing. Weather Permitting.

Day 133 – We even got dinner on the house, fish cakes, made fresh this morning in Båtsfjord. Luxury! – 12 July

Day 133. 12th of July. Waiting on weather in Makkaur.

After two nights with short sleep, we slept in today. We were in the middle of our breakfast when a boat approached the bay below the cabins.

It was Trond, the owner of one cabin under extension and renovation, and Inge and Inge’s dog Elling.

Inge was here to help Trond build a terrace and Elling thought he was here to herd the small local herd of Reindeer.

Trond’s family has roots here, and we learned about Makkaur that up to three hundred people had lived in this fishing community. Quite unbelievable when we see it today. All the houses were dismantled and moved to other places.

Also unbelievable in an age where time is scarce and money relatively plentiful. (Many of the people we met in rural Russia would probably not have to strain their imagination as much as us).

The first half of today was a beautiful summers day, but the wind was blowing and the waves were a meter and a half and white crested, so no temptation to change plans. And for the second part of the day the wind turned, picked up and brought rain that even yr.no didn’t predict.

We just managed to get the tent up and create a dry space for our things.

In the summer weather we went on different sight seeings. Stein went to inspect the old German fortifications, Erling went to look at Makkaur lighthouse.

The lighthouse is unmanned, except for a small herd of Reindeer. But it is still operative and kept in order. In bygone days two lighthouse keeper families lived here.

Erling came there just as the wind turned and he could have lit a match at the lighthouse. It lasted less than five minutes and fifteen minutes later the wind was approaching gale force.

Time to hurry back and secure our stuff. Stein was similarly blown back from the fortifications.

We waited the rain out in the tent.

When we stuck our heads out, Trond shouted from the cabin that coffee was ready. Music in our ears.

Meantime he had been back to Båtsfjord with Inge and Elling, and his wife Marjot had come with him back here.

Over coffee we got the history of how the two of them had built up the firm StyroNor, producing the white boxes in which fish is transported and exported.

A very interesting and successful story, not without obstacles from nature, authorities and ill-wishers, but also support, if not from nature, then other authorities and well-wishers.

We even got dinner on the house, fish cakes, made fresh this morning in Båtsfjord. Luxury!

In the end day 133 became both varied and interesting.

Tomorrow we head at least for Kongsfjord.

From yesterday:

 

Day 132 – We believe we are on the same spot where Jim Danielsson landed after his dramatic passing of Makkaur fyr back in 1989 – 11 July

Day 132. 11th of July. From Blodskytodden to a couple of kilometers after Makkaur lighthouse. 51 km, 6.5 km/hr average speed.

Just after we came onshore Stein received the sad news that his father in law passed away today. Then Makkaur is a very long way from home.

Even so weather dictates that we stay onshore here tomorrow.

There is a small weather window, but we have an hour plus crossing of Båtsfjord ahead, and a good place to stay where we are.

Before we got here we did a first for this trip; we paddled back a couple of kilometers.

We found this place on top of the ruins of a WW2 German “kystbatteri” on our way after Makkaur fyr, but Erling insisted on looking for a place as idyllic as the yesterday’s campsite “just around the corner”. No such luck, and for once we paddled back.

We believe we are on the same spot where Jim Danielsson landed after his dramatic passing of Makkaur fyr back in 1989, thoroughly described in his book “148 dagar i havskajakk” (148 days in a sea kayak).

Our passing of Makkaur fyr was undramatic. We took advantage of a weather window predicted by yr.no.

We use the forecast to plan our day. Today we were off to a 0310 start, and got Hamningberg out of the way by 0630. Then we crossed Syltefjorden and landed on Storsteinnes to wait out the forecast 8 m/s winds.

We slept for three hours and then started to pack the boats to be ready for a three o’clock weather window.

It appeared almost on the minute, and we passed two infamous spots Korsnes and Makkaur fyr in good weather and sea state.

For comparison, Jim Danielsson had a transistor radio with dubious reception.

Using yr.no feels almost like cheating by comparison. But safety first, and we always keep in mind that forecast is not reality. But still immensely valuable.

Tomorrow we’ll wait on weather and rearrange our plans.

Day 131 – Stein is a man of action, so he went back up the road and hitched a ride with Camilla – 10 July

Day 131. 10th of July. Komagværodden to just beyond Blodskytodden. 46 km, 7.0 km/hr average speed.

We got off to a 0320 start to take maximum advantage of falling tide. After about five hours we reached Vardø.

That was convenient as we wanted to see a pharmacy. Stein has experienced dizziness on some of our crossings. Latest theory is that it has to do with long wavelength ocean swell. So the thing to try is medication for seasickness.

For this you need a prescription. Stein first tried to call “fastlegen”, but it was holiday. He then called Øyvind our “Expedition doctor”, it turned out he was busy rescuing a person from Hardangerjøkulen. Then we called our reserve Knut and he helped us.

So now we hope that it works, first indications are positive.

Vardø is an old fortification town and is Norway’s eastern most point.

It also used to have Norway ‘s northernmost tree, growing in a shielded spot on the fort. Our editor Karianne wanted a picture.

Unfortunately the tree had died. A new one had been planted, but it looked very dead also.

One thing about sleeping short during the day, is that one gets tired and quality of ideas and precision in execution suffers.

As we came back we realized that we had left sports tape and toothpaste at the Pharmacy.

Stein is a man of action, so he went back up the road and hitched a ride with Camilla. She took Stein to the pharmacy and waited for him and drove him back to the harbor close to the airport, where we had our boats.

Before lunch we had passed one potentially complicated place; Kibergodden, in max weather and calm seas.

One reason for taking a long break in Vardø was to wait for a tide/weather window across Blodskytodden.

We left at 1400 and got to Blodskytodden about 1530, at maximum tide and almost no wind nor current.

We stopped shortly after, not wanting to risk a crossing in forecast of 8 m/s northerly winds.

Tonight the conditions will be favorable again, and tomorrow we hope to get past another infamous point: Makkaur lighthouse, about 48 km from where we camp.

Weather Permitting.

Day 130 – Today was the day for crossing Varangerfjord – 9 July

Update day 130. 9th of July. Kjelmøya to Komagværodden. 44 km, 6.4 km/hr average speed.

Today was the day for crossing Varangerfjord. A crossing that demands careful planning, since one has to spend hours in open sea in an area with potentially rapid weather changes and also some current.

Our plan was an early start to make some use of the calm of the night. So at 0520 we set off, due north with the sun in our faces.

Three and a half mercifully uneventful hours later we passed Ekkerøya, and after four hours and 27 km we landed in a small village.

We took a two hour break as the tide driven currents were unfavorable. We got some food and sleep, and then set off on the last leg of the day. Now we just paddled until the sun driven winds got to about 7 m/s and then went ashore.

Tomorrow’s “piece de resistance” is Blodskytodden, so named we are told, because blood came under peoples fingernails when they tried to cross in unfavorable weather!

Tomorrow weather is favorable in the morning, but not in the afternoon.

We aim for an early start, but still it is touch and go if we make it.

Now the chronicler needs to get some sleep. We will elaborate a little more on our Finnmark adventure when we run into weather waiting, which we sure will.

Nature is breathtaking and paddling is interesting both planning and execution.

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