Day 144. 23rd of July. From Slettnes fyr to Sandfjorden. 27 km, 7.1 km/hr average speed.
Breakfast with Inge and Einar before they paddled north towards Grense Jakobselv. We countined south.
No coverage at Sandfjorden. Update tomorrow.
Day 143. 22nd of July. 70 days and ten weeks to go. One third of the adventure is still left.
No paddling today, but about ten kilometers walk to and around Gamvik and back.
Last night brought a very pleasant surprise when Inge and Einar announced via sms at 2100 hrs that they had made it to Slettnes. It had been a long hard slog from Sandfjorden in head winds and currents.
As far as we know there are five OKK paddlers doing various efforts to paddle along Norway’s coast right now. Four are here and we did a video conference with Harald who is southbound in Trøndelag.
The weather forecast was such that a day in good company at Slettnes seemed like a very good idea.
It turned out the weather was way better than forecast, but over a long and pleasant breakfast we decided that the opportunity to spend time and learn from Inge and Einar who have paddled the Norwegian coast opposite way (clockwise), was worth a lot more than a few kilometers gained.
It also gave Einar, Stein and Erling opportunity to visit Gamvik. A veeery quiet place on a Sunday morning.
But the world’s northernmost museum was open, and testified to the immense hardships endured by people up here, all the way up to after the second world war when the fishing boats got motorized, bigger and safer.
Still in the midst of Gamvik is a monument in memory of those lost at sea, raised by the local fishermen’s union.
When we came back to our lodgings at the lighthouse, we had a long and detailed “map meeting”. We shared a little about the way from here to Grense Jakobselv, and Einar and Inge shared their tips and recommendations from here to Harstad. Very useful.
And then Einar and Inge cooked us a luxurious steak dinner. Good weather, good food and good company, no troubles in sight.
Well not so fast; as we checked the latest weather forecast we realized that today’s poor weather has been postponed till tomorrow.
Still we plan to paddle on, but for a short day to Sandfjorden, where we expect to meet up with Torbjørn (last seen in April in Nådendal), who will be trekking there with his brother.
En route we will pass Europe’s northern most land point: Kinnarodden.
Day 142. 21st of July. Russehavna to Slettnes fyr. 37 km, 7.1 km/hr average speed.
This is written from the comfort of Slettnes fyr, where we plan to stay for two nights. Currently there is a yellow warning for rain for tomorrow, and the forecast is that there will also be strong winds.
Having seen this forecast yesterday we made a dedicated effort to get here. Over the 22 hrs from 1700 yesterday till 1500 today we covered 71 km.
We got a late start yesterday since Stein was arriving from Oslo. It could have been even later since Stein had not pre-booked his ride from Tana bru to Kongsfjord.
However, Stein’s friend Ole was again sporty and drove Stein back to Kongsfjord on short notice. As he also kindly picked Stein up as he left Kongsfjord, he’s becoming a regular around there. If not for his help, we would not have made it here within the weather window.
So we were ready and eager to go at 1700. Turid, Dag and most of their guests were not around, but we decided to go. A fast start would help avoid bad weather we hoped. Smart but not smart enough it would turn out.
It started with no wind and the sun finally burning off the fog in Kongsfjord, true summer’s paddling, no dry suit required.
After about an hour the weather changed, gone was the sun and we were paddling into strong headwinds in thick fog.
We made it to Storsteinnes, and took a break and checked the weather. 10 m/s headwinds, but only for about five kilometers. We decided to put on the drysuits and give it a go. Otherwise we might get stuck on that side of Tanafjorden.
It went OK, and as we came past Kjølnes fyr the wind was down as forecast.
The thick fog remained though and we approached the entrance to Berlevåg harbor with caution. Wise. As we approached we heard a strong signal out of the fog. We waited until the spooky contours of Hurtigruten appeared and entered the harbor.
We continued for another hour and a half till Russehavna. We had planned a short break and then to cross Tanafjorden, but it was almost midnight, the visibility was poor and we were tired. We pitched the tent and set the alarm for 0600.
We were on the water again at 0710, and set course for Omgang. It took us about three hours. Three hours of boring crossing. Good conditions and we could see the other side of the fjord before we lost sight of the side we were leaving.
At Omgang we undressed, literally poured sweat out of the dry suits, put on dry clothes and made dinner.
We took time to look around a little, but not much remained of a once sizeable community, infamous for its witch hunts.
We saw no witches nor anyone else, but suddenly the fog thickened and we decided we should not put off putting on our wet stuff anymore.
We were off shortly before 1300 and paddled about one and a half our without seeing anything but fog. GPS and compass kept us on course, once land appeared we kept going directly to Slettnes Fyr, we passed Gamvik but saw nothing.
We caught some attention as we walked into the cafe, but people up here are not prickly so it was of the positive kind.
We enquired about the opening time of the shop in Gamvik. Closed at 1300 when we were still at Omgang…
We had dreamt of steak and bernaise… AND NOT IN WAIN!
Tone and Ronald (living in Jessheim) were there with family members from up here. They told us not to worry, they would drive to Meham and shop for us, a fifty kilometer return trip, did we have a list?
We made one, and a long one, as we are hoping two friends from OKK, Einar and Inge will join us here. They come from the west heading toward Grense Jakobselv.
Thanks a lot to Tone and Ronald for taking the trouble!
Dinner is not ready yet, but we have had waffels and coffee served by Fran and Anna in the Cafe.
In spite of 71 km paddled it is doubtful if we will run a calorie deficit these days.
It is good to be on the way again. And when sad circumstances forced a break, Erling would like to underline, that staying in the Kongsfjord area was the right place at the perfect time, and with Sture and his family and Dag and Turid and their friends hospitality and generosity was in ample supply. THANKS!
Day 140. 19th of July. 22 km paddling in Kongsfjord.
For Erling the day started with a leisurely breakfast on the quay outside Turid and Dag’s place. It was a sweltering day with nearly 30 degrees temperatures. A very warm southwesterly wind was blowing, enough to build small white crested waves, but nothing interfering with today’s plan: Paddle across Kongsfjord and explore a potential trout fishing river that neither Turid nor Dag had visited before. Their friends Wenche and Jan Helge arrived last night and was joining as well.
Stein and Erling normally paddle the shortest route and try to cover kilometers. Today Dag led us in amongst the rock and cliffs and coves exploring with the kayaks gliding through crystal clear water. It was a perfect day for this type of paddling.
All the time with up to twenty sea eagles circling overhead. The sea eagle population is growing and the theory is that it is the eagles that drive the small sea gulls (Krykkje) to nest in among and on the houses both in Kongsfjord and Berlevåg.
Eventually we came to the small cove where the small river or creek came out to the Sea.
First a swim in the Barents Sea. Then lunch. Then walking up along the river to find good fishing spots. So far so perfect. It was even too hot for the mosquitoes.
And for the trouts’ appetite unfortunately. So no fish. Dag may return one rainy day to deal with that.
Back at the boats we were joined by Hans, for coffee and a second lunch.
Then it was time to paddle back.
Erling got to try Dag’s Rockpool Taran 18. A super fast and svelte ship. Maybe he needs a rudder boat after all.
But tomorrow it is back in the Etain, and if the weather forecast is correct, into the fog. 15 degrees cooler than today.
Which is a good paddling temperature, anyway.
Meanwhile, further south, Stein spent a couple of days with his family after the funeral. He also found time to hone his paddling skills, before returning to Kongsfjord and Erling tomorrow.
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!!
Day 138. 17th of July.
Today, on what would have been his 88th birthday, the funeral was held for Clarence Dean. Margaret’s father, Edward and Wilhelm’s grandfather, and Stein’s father in law.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Stein will be back Friday, and Saturday looks like a perfect day for a safe crossing. Weather Permitting.