Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Living in style

Finally we met some other paddlers! Near Bjugn we were met by Greta and Ole Kristian in their kayaks. They paddled with us as we crossed the Bjugn fjord. They invited us to Greta's home for an evening meal, sauna and a good bed, which we of course appreciated! Many thanks - it was so nice meeting you.

We paddled on today in great weather and some light wind. During the day, the rain came, it got cloudy and dark! It was getting late, as we found a small site called Magerøy, where there was a guest harbor. The great people who run the place let us sleep inside a great 17. century house, which is now in use as a guest house for tourists. Our tent was completely soaked, so we gladly accepted their offer.

The house to the right is where we stayed for the night. Talk about living in style!
Tomorrow, we will get up early. We need to use the light hours for paddling now, as the evenings get shorter.

Monday, August 29, 2011


The wind had calmed as we left Sætervik, even though some swell had built up during the night. The goal for the day was Stokkøya. We got up a little late, as a nice couple from Haugesund had invited us for a drink the night before!

Evening paddling - calm sea and some ocean swell.

The weather was BEAUTIFUL - sun and light wind. Almost too good to be true. 50 km. of paddling took us to Stokkøya - a beautiful remote spot, with a strange mix of beautiful nature and modern architecture.

The beach bar at Stokkøya.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Good paddling in strong winds

After we left the North, the weather has been fair. Little rain, and some sun. Until today....
We got out of our moist sleeping bags at 06.00 in the morning. We had some wind and rain the day before, and were happy to see the sun drying our tent and tarp. We had a good long breakfast, consisting of oat porridge and tea. Everything was perfect......

At 08.00 we were seated in our kayaks, heading south-west into the beautiful archipelago.

We usually paddle 3x15 km. a day, on average. With two good breaks in-between, or so. Our first stop after 17 km. at a small harbor was great. As we went on, the fog came! we had 100 m. visibility, and did some small crossings between islands paddling real close to each other, trusting the compass completely. I sometimes get sea sick from paddling in fog, but when I had Bao Quoc in my sight it was O.K. Then came the rain.....

And then came the wind, and even more rain. The best thing was that the fog disappeared!

8 km. of paddling in gale force wind and strong rain took us to Sætervik. The old lighthouse in Buholmråsa was spectacular in this weather!! There is a sheltered harbor in Sætervik, and we figured out there might be some place to get shelter from the weather and take a break. There was not only a good harbor, but an open cafe apartments for rent!!! We were served good coffee by the gentle couple who runs the place, and we agreed to stay for the night. We have had a good shower, washed some clothes by hand, and eaten a good meal.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is promising, and we are optimistic about venturing out early tomorrow morning...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Goodbye to the North

It was so good to vistit Inge and Bent at Havnomaden's Kayakcentre in Husvær. Not far from Husvær is Brønnøysund - a place that I have visited often, and a place where my heart belongs....We arrived early today, and met my good friend Kurt in the harbor. Tonight we have arranged to eat pizza with Kurt and his family, and other great people from Brønnøysund.

The weather is still good. Yesterday we had what seems to be the last summer night with no wind and sun - we paddled a long distance in complete silence, only disturbed by little dolphins who hit the surface and exhaled.

It is both great and a bit sad to be here in Brønnøysund. Brønnøysund is in the southernmost part of Northern Norway, and leaving Brønnøysund means leaving the North! And I won't be back for a long time... I have enjoyed our trip through Northern Norway so much - especially the last couple of weeks in Helgeland.

(above was written 2 days ago)

Now we have crossed another county border!!!!!! North Trøndelag lies ahead of us.

We have had difficulties connecting to the internet, but now it seems to work! I'll get back with some photos. At this moment we are just about to cross the Folda Fjord. The weather is fine, a bit rainy and windy this morning, but it's getting better. We have had a good break in a guest harbor, but now we need to move on....

Monday, August 22, 2011

1467 km

We are approximately half way on our long journey now. And we have used half the time. Today we reached Husvær South in Nordland. Soon it's time to change to my next overview map!

Our progress is good, and we still experience amazing things. Yesterday we came across pods of small dolphins, who jumped out of the water quite close to us. Unfortunately, we did not manage to take any photos before they were gone.

We often get up early in the morning. 05.00 is typical. Then it's good to take a nap any time you have the opportunity. Here I take a short nap in a harbor, using my thermos as a pillow.

We eat well all the time. Our typical breakfast consist of oat flakes, dried milk powder and hot water. Usually we add sugar, sometimes butter, and sometimes we even add chocolate! We eat oats quite often, actually. For lunch too, and sometimes as an evening meal.

Once or twice a day, we have "dinner". Dinner consist of vacuum packed, freeze dried meals from a Norwegian company "Drytech". They come in many varieties. Unfortunately Our first food depot to last 3 weeks had only two varieties! Now I have more to choose from. To add a little extra fat (and taste), we have brought lots of olive oil. We add up to one dl. in every meal as often as we can.

We sometimes take a break out on the water. Therefore we need some "deck food". This usually consists of different kinds of nuts, raisins and chocolate. All packed in waterproof little bags, within easy reach.
You actually become a little tired of the same food every day. Therefore, we eat well every time we reach some kind of civilization. We now typically buy bread, cheese, eggs and canned fish. We prefer fat and protein!

Life beneath the sea is often more interesting than life above the sea

Today we reached Inge and Bent Skauen. They run "Havnomaden" (sea nomad) kayak center. We have had a good time with good food, wine and great company with Inge and Bent, who are passionate paddlers. We have slept in good beds, had a good shower, and washed our smelliest clothes.

Wine, chairs and table - luxury!!!! Thanks to Inge and Bent.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bodø - Ørnes

We set out from Bodø rather late on the 16. The wind was strong - too strong to cross the Salten fjord. We had to stop and sleep only 12 km. from where we started, and wait for better weather. We got up at 04.00 in the morning on wedensday 17. and crossed the fjord in nice weather. This day, we paddled 62 km. It is very efficient to get up early! Today, we paddled 30 km. We rounded the dreaded "Kunna" in fair weather, and got to Ørnes early. We had a good meal, and went out to find Tor's cabin on Mesøya. We had placed a depot of dried food here, and everything went as planned. Today it is two weeks since we left Tromsø, and we had estimated a two weeks trip to get here - it couldn't be more perfect.

Finally Helgeland! I have been looking forward to paddle this part of the coast.

Tor and his wife Birte came here by car as I write these lines. We had a good evening together, ate fresh food and sat on chairs! Luxury!!!! Birte had brought Tor's old baidarka. It is shorter and better suited for this kind of trip, and Bao Quoc will leave behind his 570 cm. long baidarka on Mesøya. A little rigging needs to be done before we can continue.

Man or kayak? I met this two legged monster lying on its back when I went outside the cabin to brush my teeth!

Tor and Birte approaching the cabin in their kayaks.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Press coverage

During our trip, the press has shown a fair amount of interest in our expedition.  The first newspaper to provide coverage was Sør-Varanger avis, which gave us a two-page spread with lots of detail.

Here is an article from the newspaper Nordlys based on an interview the journalist did while we were in Tromsø.

(Click image for full-size picture).

And here is an article from Avisa Nordland the 20th of August:

Strong winds and a stop in Bodø

We had a good overnight stay in Leines, where an acquaintance of Tor invited us to have dinner, take a shower and offered us a bed for the night. Such luxury!!! Many thanks to Berit for her genuine hospitality.

At this point we had quite strong winds. Tor still had trouble with his wrists, and the direction of the wind was difficult to prejudge. It was a bit exciting to cross the Folda fjord. The weather seemed stable when we began the 10 km. crossing, but after 6 km. the wind started to blow strongly from shore, and we had to battle against the wind for the last 3-4 km. or so. We camped close to the crossing place near Os on one of the journey's most beautiful places so far. The weather was warm, and for the first time in a month, we could enjoy the evening without socks, shoes and windproof clothing.

On the August 15th - one month after our start in Grense Jakobselv, we set out from Os early in the morning. We paddled quite a distance - 15 km. - in little wind and sun. Upon crossing the little Mist fjord, the wind grew stronger from an unfortunate direction - Easterly. The last 2 km. of the crossing was really hard. We had the feeling of not moving forward at all. We had to concentrate on keeping the course and our balance, when sudden bursts of wind up to storm strength suddenly came upon us for periods of 3-4 minutes.  The gusts were so strong, they threatened to tip us over, and we had to lean strongly into the wind to avoid this... which, of course, becomes 'interesting' the gust subsides. We reached Mjelde, 10 km. North of Bodø and decided to take a break and have dinner. Here, the weather only got worse.   The strong bursts of wind continued, all the time from different directions.  A thick layer of froth from the waves blew constantly across the water, and eddies of foam formed here and there.  It was obvious that it would not be wise to continue paddling - such a shame - we had been looking forward to reaching Bodø this day.    

As we sat there wit our frustration, i got a message from Jim Ness in Bodø: "I follow your blog, you can stay in Bodø Kayak club if you wish. Hope to see you soon, otherwise have a good trip!" I called Jim, just to check that he really meant it, and he immediately offered to come and pick us up and take us the last bit to Bodø by car. We accepted his offer and installed ourselves in the club house, then we went and had a good dinner in Bodø. Many thanks to Jim for his help, and to Bodø Kayak club for letting us stay at the club house "as long as we wish!".

Jim Ness at the beach of Mjelde - it was actually hard to stand in the strong winds, and loading kayaks on the car was risky business!

According to the weather forecast, the strong and unpredictable winds will continue for a few days. Tor has decided to stop here in Bodø, so Bao Quoc and I will wait for better conditions and go on. It is very uncertain, but perhaps tonight will offer a short opening, where we can paddle for five hours or so.

Bao Quoc making breakfast outside the clubhouse. He has an obsession with food. While Tor and I have both dropped a few kilos, Bao Quoc has gained two kilos! I constantly tell him that he eats too much and works too little, but he refuses to listen!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Steigen - and finally some pictures

After four days of paddling in Nordland, we have made it to Steigen. Nature only gets better and better. Bright white beaches and small islands everywhere. We have had some rain and some wind. The distances we paddle have been shortened slightly. Tor's arm is not getting better, and we have had to slow down. We will attempt to go to Mesøya together slowly - that is 150 km. from our current position. Mesøya is the home place of Tor's family, and we would like to go there with him. Once there, he will stop paddling, and it is up to me and Bao Quoc to continue the journey. We will have to reorganize things slightly, but there is no problem in paddling on only the two of us. Only a shame that Tor cannot continue with us.

The most impressive sights lately is the eagles that we constantly see. We often get quite close - 30-50 meters yesterday. But not close enough to take a good photo so far. On Thursday, I nearly hit an otter with the tip of my kayak. It was windy, and I approached it from the downwind side. I thought it was a dead animal, lying so still and not being aware of me. As I got closer I saw that he was completely occupied, eating a fish. The bow of my baidarka was only 30 cm. from him when he saw me, took the fish with him, and disapeared in the water.

And finally I have the chance so put in some pictures!!!! See below

Paddling between two giant ships from the Norwegian marine. Paddling long distances is not always that exciting, so whenever we approach something interesting, it has to be explored.

Lunch stop between little islands on a sand beach. Quite a change from earlier where we sometimes had to paddle long distances to find a suitable landing place.

Steigen in beautiful weather

We had decided to find the perfect campsite as we were expecting lots of rain.  We had no trouble finding one.  In addition to pitching the tent, we stretched a tarp as an additional shelter for luggage.  We also cooked our food and ate under the tarp - a bit less claustrophic than eating in a cramped tent.  Here the bad weather is on its way.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Another day on the water…

10th of August. A good, long day of paddling took us from Bø to Korsnes – 55 km. all together. We are happy to have reached Nordland. We crossed the border between Troms and Nordland yesterday and found out that our total distance so far was a little more than 1000 km. Really something to celebrate – to all luck Tor had brought a small bottle of armagnac from Tromsø, and we had a toast!
The first physical sign of being in Nordland was the bright white beaches that consist of coral sand – a beautiful sight. In addition it gives us great satisfaction to realize that the country is changing – we are making progress! We had a late dinner ashore between Ofotfjord and Tysfjord. Paddling here was spectacular – many kilometers of shallow, bright green water and coral sand underneath revealed all the life in the sea: anemones, urchins, crabs, a plethora of shells and different kinds of kelp. A bit later, on our way across Tysfjord, the otherwise cloudy sky opened, and a bright burst from the evening sun illuminated the majestic Lofoten peaks further out in the ocean.
The weather has been fine – little wind and rain so far. Yesterday we had strong winds, but we just took a good long break in the middle of the day, and continued when the wind had calmed down. When the strong wind started, we also had some serious current, so paddling was quite exciting for a while. We have also passed some strong tidal streams in narrow passages – it has been difficult to prejudge how the water is running at high tide, low tide etc. Often the water flows in different patterns – one place you paddle all you can against the current, then suddenly your kayak is turned sideways and suddenly you paddle at good speed in the direction of the current. There are many things to learn for us southern paddlers who are not used to this.   

In closing, have to share one funny incident.  After a long stretch on the water, we came across an isolated building on shore where we discerned the sign “Kro og Lefsebakeri” – a cafeteria with home-made “lefse”  - a baked good that is traditional in this region.  We decided to go ashore for a break and see if we could get some lefse.  No luck.  The place was closed – with no indication of opening hours. We don’t know if the place had closed for the day, for the season, for good or what, but it was clear that we were not going to get much joy from this place. Today.  Well, we settled down on the pebble beach, fired up the Kelly kettle, had a hot meal and coffee and enjoyed the sight of the calm sea.  The sun smiled to us.  It was actually much better than being inside.  Still …. It would have been nice with some lefse.  Later that evening we went ashore for the evening.  When it is convenient, we generally ask permission to pitch our tent when we are in an inhabited area.  According to tradition, Tor ran up to the nearest farm house to ask permission and, while he was at it, for fresh water.  The woman in the house was accommodating, and when she hear that we were famous (there had been a full-page article on our trip in the local newspaper Nordlys the day before), she was mightily impressed and – unprompted – asked “do you like lefse?”.  Well, Tor indicated that we were not completely against lefse.  The woman went over to another building a brought back a big, fat lefse!  We enjoyed it very much for lunch on a spectacular coral beach we found the next day.  Life is very, very good!.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Crisis? What crisis?

Today, the 8th of August is actually my 40th birthday! No bad way to spend a special day, to be out paddling with friends. I was a bit concerned, since so many people ask me about the midlife crisis – so far it seems to be nothing to worry seriously about!
We left Tromsø late Saturday. 30 km. of paddling took us to the outside of Kvaløya. We had quite strong wind at our backs, and some nice surf too. A narrow passage with strong currents also made the paddling exciting, but fortunately no capsize this time!
From Kvaløya we crossed Malangen on Sunday. We ended up just North of Dyrøya late, after 63 km. of paddling – the longest distance paddled in a single day so far on our trip! We made a stop of more than 4 hours just north of Finnsnes. A paddle friend, Ørgen Karlsen, had arranged a stop at Kurt Sverre Albrichtsen’s summer house. Kurt Sverre has built several skin on frame kayaks with my guidance, and on his own. Meeting him and his wife was a great experience. They served us a great meal (we haven’t eaten fresh vegetables for almost four weeks now), and showed us around in their wonderful summer house. The summer house consists of several small and large buildings, all built and decorated by themselves with second hand materials, stone and wood. It was beautiful and radiated creativity – truly an inspiring visit. Kurt Sverre was very modest about his creations himself, but I was amazed. A couple of true artists, and a place I definitely would love to visit again.
Today, we had a late start. It’s my birthday and I phoned my family while having 4 cups of coffee in the sun. Truly a good start of the day. 39 km of easy paddling brought us to Astafjord. I had a good long surf on the way – the GPS showed a top speed of 16 km/hour – or 9 knots. Almost the speed the Aleuts were rumored to keep for long distances in the old days – I wonder if they surfed too?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Goodbye to Finnmark

It feels very odd to sit in a coach in front of a laptop with clean clothes and a smell of soap. My whole body is in paddle mode and I can still feel the waves moving me and my baidarka all the time.

We arrived Tromsø yesterday evening after a day's paddling where we clocked up 61 km. It was Thursday, exactly 3 weeks after our start at Grense Jakobselv. Without much effort, exactly on schedule - strange in a way. Finnmark was, due to its exposed nature, the bit of coast I was most uncertain about. 790 km. all together ... so far.

We will stay here for a day or so, and continue south on Saturday.

I think I have lost a bit of weight, otherwise my body seems to function perfectly. I'll spend the day here in Tromsø to eat a lot and make phone calls to friends and family.

I was completely overwhelmed by the nature in Finnmark, and I certainly want to come back some day. We could easily have spent a month or two exploring all the exciting and spectacular bits of the coast - all the fjords, the settlements, the beaches and wildlife.

Our equipment also worked well. The planning could have been better, but we have had the right equipment to make ourselves comfortable at all times, also when the weather was bad. I'm very happy about our choice of camera equipment - with the combination of compact and bigger cameras, we have managed to make a lot of good photos. And I have managed to keep the camera dry and safe.

The baidarkas work well, but Bao Quoc may have chosen a slightly too long baidarka. He has had some trouble steering well in certain winds and tidal streams. We hope that attaching a small skeg here in Tromsø will solve the problems. The paint he used just prior to our departure has partly loosened; still, the baidarka is fairly dry. We washed it in fresh water yesterday, and today we will give it a few coats of fast-drying varnish.

All the way, we have used the ingenious KELLYKETTLE!!!!!! My warm regards to the mr. Kelly, who invented this waterboiler.  We use it every morning heating water for our breakfast. Usually you just sit on the beach and pick up whatever you find - sticks, driftswood bits, dried grass and seawheed - whatever. In a few minutes you have boiling water! we use it one or two times during the day at lunch stops, and we use it in the evening for our evening meals.

Commercial: "Go buy a kellykettle immediately - you will not regret it. (Available in my web shop)"

We have made a lot of campfires - both during daytime stops and in the evening. We use drysuits all the time, and a fire both warms you and makes your woolen inner clothes dry for the next paddling. Many thanks to Bao Quoc who insisted on bringing a small hatchet along!

Also my warm thanks to Glenn who encouraged me to buy (and sell in my webshop!) the Crewsaver "Cell" drysuit. It's affordable, and it is excellent! I've been living in this suit for 3 weeks now, both in good and bad weather and I feel just fine in it. I was a bit skeptical to neoprene cuffs, but they work fine and keep my neck and wrists good and warm as well.
I will go and eat!!!!!!! I hope to be able to write more often now, as we enter more inhabited parts of the coast.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Exhibit at Tromsø Folk Museum

Over the next couple of days we are going to be doing some kayak maintenance, including repainting one of the kayaks to make it smoother (and hence faster).  We have struck an agreement with the Folk Museum in Tromsø that we will combine this work with some "show and tell".  Friday and Saturday we shall be exhibiting three traditional kayaks on the museum grounds, demonstrating simple maintenance and providing a guided tour to any comers.  For anyone in the area ... come and see us in Folkeparken, down by the sea.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tackling tendinitis

We mentioned in an earlier entry that Tor had developed tendinitis - a challenge to be tackled.  Well he saw a doctor and got a prescription for an anti-inflammatory drug (diclofenac).  Combined with some rest from paddling, this has already eliminated the pain.  However, we still have a long way to go and we don't want this challenge to recur. We therefore sewed a set of straps together to link the paddle to his arm without the need to use the flexors in the lower arm - see photos.  One strap goes around the wrist, the two others go around the paddle, on either side of his hand.  It remains to perform the long-term field test of this new contraption.