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Yearly Archives: 2017 − Travelblog


2017: my year in review – Febru­ary and March: the Ant­ar­c­tic Odys­sey

After finis­hing the big pro­ject with my new Nor­we­gi­an gui­de­book Sval­bard – Nor­ge nær­mest Nord­po­len, it was time to get some fresh air. And I got lots of it during a trip around the world in Febru­ary in March. The heart of this huge voya­ge was a semi-cir­cum­na­vi­ga­ti­on of Ant­ar­c­ti­ca, which I refer to as the “Ant­ar­c­tic Odys­sey”. Start­ing in New Zea­land, we went to Camp­bell Island, into the Ross Sea and then via Peter I Island to the Ant­ar­c­tic Pen­in­su­la befo­re we finis­hed in Ushua­ia. Tru­ly an Odys­sey!

The high­light of this gre­at jour­ney? Hard to say. The­re was not only one high­light. Just the dimen­si­ons of this trip are epic, many thousand nau­ti­cal miles in more than 30 days. Being Expe­di­ti­on Lea­der on such a trip on the Ort­eli­us was cer­tain­ly a con­tri­bu­ti­on towards making it inte­res­t­ing for me. Nor­mal­ly, “my” ships are much smal­ler the­se days, and they do not car­ry 3 heli­c­op­ters!

Thin­king about which impres­si­on still means a lot to me and will stay for a long time, then Camp­bell Island is quick­ly coming to my mind. This island, which belongs to the New Zea­land sub­ant­ar­c­tic islands, was very high on my per­so­nal wish­list – sim­ply as I had not been the­re befo­re. Well, I had been very clo­se 2 years ear­lier, but then, the­re was no chan­ce of making a landing becau­se of very strong winds. This time, we had just the por­ti­on of luck that you need in a place like that.

Albatrosses, Campbell Island

Alba­tros­ses on Camp­bell Island.

Of cour­se, fly­ing into Tay­lor Val­ley, one of the famous McMur­do Dry Val­leys, and to McMur­do Base, whe­re we almost stay­ed quite a bit lon­ger than we actual­ly wan­ted to, are expe­ri­en­ces never to be for­got­ten. And that is gene­ral­ly true for all impres­si­ons of Ant­ar­c­ti­ca from a bird’s per­spec­ti­ve.

Waterboat Point, Antarctica

Water­boat Point (Ant­ar­c­tic Pen­in­su­la) from the air.

But in the end, it is the direct encoun­ters with the wild­life and the sce­n­ery that is always get­ting very clo­se to my heart and soul. That is what stays! The Alba­tros­ses on Camp­bell Island, the Emper­or pen­gu­ins in the Ross Sea, the Hump­back wha­les and pen­gu­ins in the Ant­ar­c­tic pen­in­su­la, to men­ti­on a few of the­se encoun­ters. Memo­ries that will stay fore­ver!

Emperor and Adelie penguin at Cape Hallet, Ross Sea, Antarctica

Emper­or and Ade­lie pen­gu­in at Cape Hal­let in the Ross Sea.

2017: my year in review

It is almost frigh­tening how time is fly­ing. Again, a year almost gone! It was an inten­se, rich year. What did the last 12 months bring, for Spits­ber­gen, for spitsbergen-svalbard.com and for me? I’ll review the year with a cou­ple of blogs over the next days.

Janu­ary is polar night in the far north. A good time for wri­ting table adven­tures. Wri­ting arc­tic books is not bor­ing, but the actu­al pro­cess is often not ter­ri­bly exci­ting. In prac­ti­ce, it means to spend an awful lot of time on the com­pu­ter. Rese­ar­ching, wri­ting, editing, loo­king for images, pro­ces­sing images, making illus­tra­ti­ons and so on and so forth.

In Janu­ary 2017, my big­gest pro­ject in many years was about to be finis­hed. I can tell you that it was not bor­ing! For a long time alre­a­dy, I had had dreams of a Nor­we­gi­an trans­la­ti­on of my Spits­ber­gen gui­de­book. And in 2015, I was bra­ve or cra­zy enough to go ahead with it. Inten­se work on every oppor­tu­ni­ty for a good year, invol­ving a num­ber of nati­ve spea­k­ers who hel­ped me in trans­la­ting and “språk­vask” (pro­ofre­a­ding lan­guage). I am still almost fee­ling diz­zy when I bring the­se weeks and months, which were very inten­se, back to my inner eye. I don’t want to bother you with the details of the pro­cess, but it was wit­hout exag­ge­ra­ti­on cer­tain­ly my big­gest pro­ject sin­ce the very first ver­si­on of the Spits­ber­gen gui­de­book came out in 2007 (that was the first Ger­man edi­ti­on, that very hea­vy book, if anyo­ne remem­bers). And at the same time, I had a litt­le series of pre­sen­ta­ti­ons, while public atten­ti­on in Lon­gye­ar­by­en was tur­ned on a polar bear fami­ly who had sett­led down for a while in the neigh­bour­hood of town. A polar bear fami­ly, mother with 2 cubs, even wal­ked through way 238 (the neigh­bour­hood clo­se to Advent­da­len, lower­most road – that’s whe­re we also have our litt­le home).

And I did mana­ge to fina­li­ze the files with the Nor­we­gi­an book for prin­ting befo­re I went down to Ant­ar­c­tic in Febru­ary. Hal­le­lu­ja!

Svalbard guidebok

My arc­tic adven­ture in ear­ly 2017: Sval­bard – Nor­ge nær­mest Nord­po­len.

The hut in Fox­dalen – 21st Novem­ber 2017

As men­tio­ned befo­re, Novem­ber is not exact­ly the time for long trips out in the arc­tic wil­der­ness. But that does not mean that you can’t go out on tour. Even a few kilo­me­t­res can be inte­res­t­ing and even chal­len­ging in dark­ness, wind and drif­ting snow. Under clouds and snow­fall, dark­ness is dark­ness is dark­ness. As long as you have got the wind in your face from the left side, the direc­tion will be rough­ly ok. Fin­tu­ning is done later with help of the GPS. How did Nøis, Rit­scher and all the­se guys do it in the old days? No idea. Well, they were not wimps as we are today. The just went for it and kept sear­ching for the hut for some hours, if neces­sa­ry. And if they did not find it at all, they were son food for the foxes. Good the­se days are over! It is still chal­len­ing enough. The hea­vy pulk is pul­ling behind me, a strong sledge dog is pul­ling in front of me and under me, the skis are gli­ding over young snow.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Final­ly, we have rea­ched the hut in Fox­dalen. Just in time, the sky is clea­ring up and the courtain is lif­ting for a nor­t­hern light of the more impres­si­ve sort, to put it mild­ly. I did not have the came­ra rea­dy to cap­tu­re the most ama­zing moment, some­ti­mes the­re are more important things to do. But we did enjoy it, not just a litt­le bit! And soon, the fire was going in the ovn …

San­ta Claus’ Let­ter­box – 20th Novem­ber 2017

If you have been to Lon­gye­ar­by­en sin­ce Decem­ber 2013, then you have seen the huge, red let­ter­box just upon ente­ring town, as you came from the air­port. This was the San­ta Claus Mail­box, and here you could post your let­ters to San­ta Claus.

The let­ter­box was an idea from Po Lin Lee from Hon­kong, but she did not just send an idea and money from far away. She was and is in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and puts a lot of effort into hear pos­tal pro­ject. But – the per­mis­si­on to have it stan­ding the­re was only tem­po­ra­ry. It ran out on Decem­ber 2015, and then, the let­ter­box was to be remo­ved again, or a new per­mis­si­on had to be obtai­ned.

Neither of this hap­pen­ed, until Mon­day. What hap­pen­ed, was a fight that took a lot of time and ener­gy. Let­ters, admo­ni­ti­ons and war­nings were writ­ten, bureau­crats and lawy­ers did what bureau­crats and lawy­ers do. Neigh­bours would have to be cont­ac­ted to give their con­sent to a rene­wed per­mis­si­on for the let­ter­box to remain in place, but is is said that this never hap­pen­ed. Lan­guage dif­fi­cul­ties seem to have play­ed a role.

Then, the local admi­nis­tra­ti­on (Lon­gye­ar­by­en Lokals­ty­re, LL) set a dead­line: the let­ter­box was to dis­ap­pear on Mon­day, Novem­ber 20, 2017. The order to remo­ve it had alre­a­dy been given by LL to a local con­s­truc­tion firm. The invoice about the sub­stan­ti­al amount of 129,000 NOK (about 13,300 Euro) was in the end to be paid by Po Lin Lee.

Who reac­ted by orde­ring a com­pa­ny from the main­land to take the let­ter­box down in a more carefu­ly way, so it could be re-built again later some­whe­re else. Befo­re that hap­pen­ed, Po Lin Lee gave visi­tors a last chan­ce to visit the let­ter­box, only to find out that the door had been firm­ly locked with big screws – wit­hout her, the owner, kno­wing about it. Also, the­re were traces of fore­cul break-in on the door, pos­si­bly from a local com­pa­ny who had alre­a­dy remo­ved the elec­tri­cal sys­tem on behalf of the local admi­nis­tra­ti­on.

Gal­lery – San­ta Claus’ Let­ter­box – 20th Novem­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Mean­while, the dis­cus­sion in local social media group had gai­ned some momen­tum. Some were hap­py that local demo­cra­cy had won a vic­to­ry and the let­ter­box was now about to dis­ap­pear, while others expres­sed sad­ness. The­re are dif­fe­rent opi­ni­ons regar­ding the ques­ti­on if Lon­gye­ar­by­en should be pre­sen­ted to the glo­bal public as a San­ta Claus Town. The local legend actual­ly says that San­ta Claus lives in Mine 7b, abo­ve Nyby­en. During the Christ­mas peri­od, the­re is light up the­re, and the­re is a let­ter­box (of more con­ven­tio­nal dimen­si­ons) next to the road below it, whe­re child­ren can send their let­ters to San­ta Claus as part of the local christ­mas hap­pe­nings.

The big San­ta Claus let­ter­box was now remo­ved by a com­pa­ny on behalf of Po Lin Lee. Accor­ding to her, the­re are seve­ral inte­res­ted par­ties that might step in and take over the let­ter­box to put it up again else­whe­re in Scan­di­na­via. And Po Lin Lee has not given up hopes that she might actual­ly be able again to put it up some­whe­re else in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Hap­py Christ­mas time to ever­y­bo­dy!

More arc­tic Christ­mas sto­ries? – Click here to check out my (Ger­man) book with his­to­ri­cal Christ­mas sto­ries from high lati­tu­des.

His­to­ri­cal
Christ­mas sto­ries
(Ger­man)

Arktische Weihnachten - Rolf Stange

Ugle­da­len – 16th Novem­ber 2017

A small val­ley, not too far from Lon­gye­ar­by­en. But not too clo­se eit­her. Com­pared to the polar night far away from any arti­fi­ci­al light, Lon­gye­ar­by­en is still bright as day – well, almost.

With the­se 3 images, I try to give a more or less rea­li­stic impres­si­on of what the polar night actual­ly looks like. I guess that is hard­ly pos­si­ble, with a pho­to on a screen. The pho­tos are still too bright, but when I make them even dar­ker, then you will pro­ba­b­ly think that I have pho­to­gra­phed black squa­res … when you are out in this land­scape for a while, then your eyes are get­ting used to it to some degree and you can still see a lot! Cer­tain­ly enough for gene­ral ori­en­ta­ti­on.

Gal­lery – Ugle­da­len – 16th Novem­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Things are dif­fe­rent when it is clou­dy and win­dy, with drif­ting snow. Then: dark­ness is dark­ness is dark­ness.

Polar night – 14th Novem­ber 2017

Back in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Spits­ber­gen in mid-Novem­ber may not be your place if you love suns­hi­ne. You have to app­re­cia­te the polar night to enjoy being here now. The last time the sun made it abo­ve the hori­zon was in late Octo­ber, but today, Novem­ber 14, the sun remains at least 4 degrees below the hori­zon even at noon. That is the begin­ning of the polar night, offi­ci­al­ly. The­re is some twi­light around mid-day, so-cal­led „nau­ti­cal twi­light“ for a cou­ple of hours. Not even „civil twi­light“, which most peo­p­le would descri­be as „not com­ple­te­ly dark“, but we don’t even have that any­mo­re. The­re is not much to be seen of the moon eit­her. It is going up in the midd­le of the night and down again in the after­noon, but it stays so low that you don’t real­ly reco­gni­ze that it is actual­ly the­re.

Still, it is ful­ly pos­si­ble to have ori­en­ta­ti­on while out on tour mid-day. The stars give some light, so that works well at least when the­re is snow. The­re is not much snow, but the­re is some, at least.

Gal­lery – Polar night – 14th Novem­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

The­se pho­tos give some impres­si­ons from a litt­le hike during the „brigh­test“ hours. They are actual­ly too bright, more so than in rea­li­ty. No pho­to­gra­phy any­mo­re wit­hout a tri­pod! It is still fun to be out­side, but this is obvious­ly not the time for very long trips out in the natu­re. You do a walk, and you get your work done in town, you spend time mee­ting fri­ends …

The­re is, by the way, an info-page on this web­site dedi­ca­ted to the polar night and mid­night sun.

Ves­t­vå­gøy – 08th Novem­ber 2017

Today, we explo­re the lar­ge Lofo­ten island of Ves­t­vå­gøy. The sun is abo­ve the hori­zon from 8 to 15 hours, but it remains hid­den behind a thick cloud cover, so the­re is not too much light. That does not ham­per the beau­ty of the sce­n­ery, actual­ly it fits this rough land­scape pret­ty well. But we limit our hiking acti­vi­ties to a litt­le ascent of a slo­pe next to Ball­stad for a gre­at view over the sett­le­ment and the coas­tal land­scape (have a look at the 360 degree pan­ora­ma of Ball­stad that I shot on this occa­si­on. Then, we fol­low a small road to explo­re the stun­ning coast­li­ne. We also have time for a short visit to the famous viking muse­um Borg. The muse­um is quite impres­si­ve. The­re is the 1:1 recon­s­truc­tion of the huge long house of a viking chief. The muse­um was ope­ned in 1995, and I hap­pen­ed to be the­re on the day of the ope­ning. I was impres­sed back then, and I am still impres­sed today. The modern exhi­bi­ti­on house with cine­ma and sou­ve­nir shop and ever­y­thing that is part of a muse­um today did not exist, but the long house was the­re, and that was and is gre­at fun. You can dress and feel like a viking. But to spend the polar night here, which is seve­ral weeks long, wit­hout any light source that we found find accep­ta­ble, from our 2017 per­spec­ti­ve? The­re are no win­dows. Glass was as expen­si­ve as its weight in gold, and that was too much even for the powerful viking chief of Borg. And it was dark any­way out­side during lar­ge parts of the win­ter. So they spent the win­ter in dark­ness.

Gal­lery – Ves­t­vå­gøy – 08th Novem­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Kval­vi­ka – 07th Novem­ber 2017

Once again we cho­se the rou­te sou­thwards, to Flak­sta­døy and Mos­ken­esøy. The sce­n­ery on the­se sou­thern islands is just too impres­si­ve. Even on such a rather grey and not com­ple­te­ly dry Novem­ber day.

The outer side of the Lofo­ten islands is con­stant­ly bea­ten by wea­ther, wind and waves of the north Atlan­tic, but it is famous for some beau­tifull white sand bea­ches. The­re is one in Ram­ber direct­ly next to the road (and just on the other side of the same road, the­re is a very recom­men­da­ble café, as we learn later the same day on the way back).

Gal­lery – Kval­vi­ka – 07th Novem­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

And the­re is ano­ther, real­ly stun­ning beach, in a dra­ma­tic scenic set­ting, fur­ther south on Mos­ken­esøy, in Kval­vi­ka. The­re, you have to do some­thing befo­re you can enjoy the beach, it is quite a walk up the moun­tain and down on the other side. A love­ly hike! And in Novem­ber, you can even have the fee­ling to be the only per­son in the world in this ama­zing place, for a short while, and watch the waves washing up the white sand.

From Ball­stad to Å – 06th Novem­ber 2017

After a lot of good­byes and fare­wells, ever­y­bo­dy was going his or her way after lea­ving from or with Anti­gua in Bodø. For most, the voya­ge went sou­thwards. For us, it went nor­thwards. Back to Lofo­ten. It is actual­ly pos­si­ble to tra­vel the­re wit­hout a ship 🙂

Ball­stad on Ves­t­vå­gøy was to be our Base­camp for a cou­ple of day to dis­co­ver Lofo­ten from ano­ther per­spec­ti­ve. We want to see a lot of places that are quite easi­ly rea­ched over land, rather than with a ship. We want to take time to let the sub-arc­tic wea­ther (it con­ti­nues to be quite sub-arc­tic, Novem­ber-style) and the nor­dic light touch the eye, soul and memo­ry card wit­hout any rush. We want to enjoy the rug­ged Lofo­ten land­scape wit­hout a tight sche­du­le. A land­scape of steep slo­pes and alpi­ne peaks rising straight up from the shore­li­nes. I try to ima­gi­ne what it might have been like here may­be 12000 years ago, during the last ice age. It is a men­tal jour­ney to nor­thwes­tern Spits­ber­gen. That’s how it must have been like here back then! Today, Lofo­ten is an open air muse­um of pre­vious­ly gla­cia­ted land­scapes, like a pic­tu­re book.

Gal­lery – From Ball­stad to Å – 06th Novem­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

For a first over­view, we tra­vel down to Å, all the way south on Mos­ken­esøy. It is a men­tal jour­ney not only back to the ice age, but also 22 years back for me, when a stay of seve­ral months on the­se islands gave my own con­nec­tion to the far north a strong boost. I find it easy to under­stand why, loo­king at this land­scape today.

Ves­t­fjord & Bodø – 04th Novem­ber 2017

The wind had cal­med down a bit, but it was still strong enough, coming from the south, so we deci­ded to set sails and cour­se to the west, rather than motoring against wind and waves sou­thwards. So we waved good­bye to Lofo­ten when we left the pier in Svol­vær after break­fast (bet­ter to be on the safe side!). The islands gave us a love­ly fare­well, with some sun, a rain­bow abo­ve the famous „Lofo­ten wall“ (of moun­ta­ins, rising straight up from the sea) and fair winds.

We spent the next cou­ple of hours sai­ling in good style across Ves­t­fjord, straight towards the main­land, befo­re we rea­ched the sker­ries at the Nor­we­gi­an coast. A stun­ning coast­li­ne inde­ed! It is always gre­at to see new land.

The last after­noon of such a voya­ge goes always quick­ly by. The­re is some­thing to see as long as the­re is light. The sun is curr­ent­ly going down here clo­se to 3 p.m. The final pre­sen­ta­ti­ons, the tri­plogs needs to be finis­hed, some pre­pa­ra­ti­ons for depar­tu­re tomor­row. The usu­al logi­stics. Still, dif­fe­rent this time. It is the last time for this nor­t­hern sea­son.

A big cir­cle clo­sed when we went along­side in Bodø in the evening. We left from here on May 19 to sail via Lofo­ten and Bear Island up to Spits­ber­gen. It was the same place whe­re we left, but it feels like a gala­xy away. Back then, it was 24 hours of day­light. We had a long arc­tic sum­mer ahead of us. Now, the sun is hard­ly making it abo­ve the hori­zon. And we have got a long arc­tic sum­mer behind us. So many adven­tures with all the good crew of the Anti­gua and all the polar tra­vel­lers who joi­n­ed us on the various jour­neys.

Gal­lery – Ves­t­fjord & Bodø – 04th Novem­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

A big „thank you“ to ever­y­bo­dy who was part of it for a gre­at time, full of ama­zing adven­tures, impres­si­ons … you have never seen ever­y­thing in the Arc­tic, you keep lear­ning fore­ver. The way the­re, to have seen and to know ever­y­thing, is infi­ni­te. Yet, we got a good bit fur­ther. It is the pur­po­se never real­ly to get the­re, rather to spend as much time as pos­si­ble on the way. It would be a shame to have seen it all, you have to have some dreams left … the­re will alway be ple­nty of it. The jour­ney will never end.

Tho­se thoughts asi­de – the spi­rits were high on this last evening. The last week had not given us any wha­le sightin­gs or nor­t­hern lights real­ly worth men­tio­ning, but other than that, actual­ly quite a lot. Many impres­si­ons as they are typi­cal for this land­scape of coasts and islands in north Nor­way at this sea­son. Good atmo­sphe­re on board. Good to have been part of it!

Kabel­våg-Svol­vær-Lauk­vik – 03rd Novem­ber 2017

The wind had beco­me even stron­ger during the night, so we were quite hap­py to be alre­a­dy in the har­bour of Kabel­våg. It is much nicer to go for a litt­le walk and to visit the Lofot­mu­se­um or the Lofo­ta­qua­ri­um. Hats off to the group who went for the hike from Kabel­våg to Svol­vær in wind, rain, very wet ter­rain and approa­ching dark­ness!

Unfort­u­na­te­ly, the har­bour mas­ter had orde­red us to a remo­te cor­ner of the indus­tri­al har­bour of Svol­vær, for reasons unknown to me. The way to Svol­vær down­town, fol­lo­wing the E10 over a bridge and through a tun­nel, is not exact­ly what I con­sider north­land roman­tic. Con­side­ring the rather poor wea­ther, many pre­fer­red the cosi­ness of the ship abo­ve a walk any­way.

But in the evening, we went to the nor­t­hern light ent­re in Lauk­vik to enjoy the hos­pi­ta­li­ty and the pre­sen­ta­ti­on of Rob and Threes in cosy atmo­sphe­re (insi­de; the atmo­sphe­re out­side was rather unp­lea­sant). Ever­y­bo­dy knew ever­y­thing about coro­nal holes, solar wind, magne­to­sphe­re, acti­vi­ty levels etc. after the lec­tu­re, wit­hout any doubt!

Gal­lery – Kabel­våg-Svol­vær-Lauk­vik – 03rd Novem­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

It did actual­ly clear up a litt­le bit later on. The bus ride back to Svol­vær was a scenic plea­su­re, with the light of the full moon on moun­ta­ins, fjords and lakes. It would have been nice to stop to put the tri­pod up. But just enjoy­ing it was also nice! No nor­t­hern light show­ed up during that evening, unfort­u­na­te­ly. Well, we were obvious­ly not up for that bit of luck.

Troll­fjord-Skro­va – 02nd Novem­ber 2017

The wind in Raft­sund, whe­re we had ancho­red for the night, was real­ly strong, but it beca­me a bit less in the ear­ly mor­ning. The com­bi­na­ti­on of the fjords and islands, rug­ged moun­ta­ins, wind and snow made a very true and scenic impres­si­on of this harsh natu­re: wild and beau­tiful. This is how natu­re often is in the far north. Of cour­se, the­re is some­ti­mes a blue, sun­ny sky and calm water. But this here is nor­mal life. Wild and beau­tiful.

„Wild“ and „beau­tiful“ chan­ged in Troll­fjord by the minu­te, as the snow squalls came and went. From zero visi­bi­li­ty to clear views of the moun­ta­ins, from calm waters to screa­ming winds within moments.

We were just about to lea­ve when a who­le fami­ly of 3 sea eagles came along. Seve­ral times, they flew past the ship in clo­se distance. Good fun to have a fast came­ra now 🙂

Gal­lery – Troll­fjord-Skro­va – 02nd Novem­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

The attri­buts „wild“ and „beau­tiful“ were also an appro­pria­te descrip­ti­on of our after­noon visit to Skro­va. Ente­ring the har­bour bet­ween all tho­se rocks and sker­ries is always impres­si­ve, and then we were along­side. Soon we were rea­dy for take-off to explo­re this love­ly litt­le island, wal­king through the litt­le sett­le­ment around the har­bour, across the island to some beau­tiful litt­le bays with white sand bea­ches. Wind, cold, snow and approa­ching dark­ness could not keep some bra­ve hikers to ascend Skro­vaf­jel­let. The reward came in shape of stun­ning views over the sea and islands.

We made the short pas­sa­ge to Kabel­våg in the evening. The fore­cast for tomor­row pro­mi­sed more wind, so it was good to get the­re today.

Har­stad – 01st Novem­ber 2017

The histo­ry of the area goes back thou­sands of years, and it has got many chap­ters, most of them rather unp­lea­sant. We had a look at some of that during the morning’s excur­si­on to the Tron­de­nes pen­in­su­la.

The Adolf gun (they real­ly use that term in public) was part of Hitler’s for­ti­fi­ca­ti­on of the Atlan­tic coast. The sheer dimen­si­ons and the tech­no­lo­gy of this lar­ge can­non are as impres­si­ve as its back­ground: peo­p­le do obvious­ly not save any effort or money when it comes to des­troy­ing some­thing. If they only put a frac­tion of that effort and money into making things bet­ter … well. At least, the Adolf gun was never fired in anger, only for test­ing and prac­ti­sing.

Near­by Tron­de­nes Muse­um took us through cen­tu­ries of local histo­ry. Stone age hun­ters and fishers, vikings, ear­ly Chris­ti­ans, stock­fi­sh trade and so on.

Gal­lery – Har­stad – 01st Novem­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Direct­ly upon lea­ving, the sails went up. Soon we thought we might have to take them down again after no time, as we were almost sta­tio­na­ry in the straits nor­the­ast of Har­stad. But then, the wind came back, more sails went up, and we got a love­ly and exci­ting bit of sai­ling, I mean real sai­ling, up to a good 10 knots. A quick turn – the coast just did not want to move, so we had to – and final­ly the wind died down again and the took the sails down. Just in time for the bridge at Risøy­sund, which is always good for an inte­res­t­ing pas­sa­ge (bridge height 30 met­res, height of Antigua’s main mast: 31 meters. So that works!).

Gibostad-Finns­nes-Har­stad – 31st Octo­ber 2017

Gibostad wel­co­med us with a bit of a sur­pri­se: this nice, snow-cover­ed, his­to­ri­cal pier whe­re we had gone along­side was clo­se for traf­fic. Too old, not safe. So the­re was no evening walk.

But of cour­se we wan­ted to have a look at the place, so we just use the zodiac to go ashore in a small boat har­bour around the cor­ner. A pit­to­res­que litt­le ville on the beau­tiful island of Sen­ja, with an „old city“ at the small boat har­bour. The „nost­al­gic bak­ery“ was clo­sed, unfort­u­na­te­ly 🙂 but that was not the point. The point was the beau­tiful land­scape, the stun­ning light, the snow, all the love­ly litt­le details to dis­co­ver. It was all the­re.

Also in Finns­nes, we took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to have a look around. A calm, small north Nor­we­gi­an town. Not the cent­re of the world, but if that is what you are loo­king for, then north Nor­way is not your place any­way. But again, love­ly evening colours (at 3 p.m.!) on the moun­ta­ins, and a litt­le, alre­a­dy fro­zen lake in a small forest in the midd­le of town.

Gal­lery – Gibostad-Finns­nes-Har­stad – 31st Octo­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

The stun­ning evening light stay­ed with us until it gave way to twi­light and then dark­ness. The sky remain­ed clear, so we were of cour­se curious what the evening might bring. The auro­ra fore­cast was not exact­ly opti­mi­stic, but so what, after all it was just a fore­cast! Rea­li­ty is still a dif­fe­rent thing. And inde­ed, later in the evening, the­re was a nor­t­hern light! Faint, but cle­ar­ly visi­ble at times!

By the way, this web­site has got its own info site about nor­t­hern lights, inclu­ding some nor­t­hern light pho­to tips from Rolf.

Kvaløya-Sen­ja – 30th Octo­ber 2017

We left from Trom­sø in good spi­rits in the ear­ly mor­ning and set cour­se to the north, through Kvalsund and to the outer side of Kvaløya, the lar­ge island west of Trom­sø. The first orca of the sea­son had been seen the­re a cou­ple of days ago, so the­re was reason to be opti­mi­stic.

We were the­re at the right time but not quite at the right place, they were cer­tain­ly some­whe­re, but not whe­re we were, so we did not see any wha­les. We saw stun­ning land­scape, rug­ged islands, some­ti­mes hid­den under snow show­ers, to re-appear then under quick­ly chan­ging but always ama­zing light. We crossed 70 degrees north, clo­se to San­døya, an island with some love­ly sand bea­ches and some lonely hou­ses. San­døya is sup­po­sed to have exact­ly one per­ma­nent inha­bi­tant.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Then we set a sou­t­her­ly cour­se and sails, and the bridge crew took us safe­ly through the sker­ries and rocks on the outer side of Kvaløya. We aban­do­ned the plan to fol­low the outer side of Sen­ja to Gryl­lefjord, it was just a bit too rough for that, and some had alre­a­dy sacri­fi­ced to King Nep­tu­ne, so we went into the chan­nels again and found good shel­ter bet­ween Sen­ja and the main­land and soon we went along­side in Gibostad for a calm night.

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