As Australia cools into winter, Norway’s south is beginning to warm up. The smell of fresh paint and cut timber wafts through towns as people prepare their homes for the summer season. Festivities are still weeks away usually in July and August. As expected, the outside the air is rising above 15degC for the first time this season, but mostly the days are nearer a chilly 10degC. Still too cold to swim with the water less than 10degC.
My last post followed our route along the south east coast of Norway. This post will introduce you to some of the places between Kristiansand to Egersund as we round the Lindesnes lighthouse and the southern cape where the Skagerrak meets the North Sea.
Kristiansand is the largest town on the southern coast and was founded by Danish King Christian IV in 1641. The town dock at Kristiansand was closed, but we tied up anyway. The dock is exposed to the south, but during our stay northwest winds kept Blue Heeler from bumping against the dock. “Moon” turned up the next day and we helped Annika and Bjorn with their lines. We used our time to visit a supermarket and wander through town. At this time of year it’s very quiet. One afternoon Annika, Bjorn and I took a bus to a shopping complex 20 minutes from the town for a few things. Loaded with fresh groceries, the next day Blue Heeler took off for Mandal.
Mandal, the most southerly town in Norway, has a number of guest piers for visiting yachts and the homes are typical of this area – white and charming. We docked at Pier One with views of the pedestrian bridge and Kulturhus. A convenient card payment system offered off-season rates (NOK120), but no access to the facilities as they are closed. Water, electricity and WiFi is pretty much all we get (and all we need) at most places and it’s rare that we ever meet anyone. A number of naval vessels were in the harbour displaying full colours in commemoration of May 8th, the end of WWII, while a band played to many aged servicemen and servicewomen.
A strong easterly blew that night, but with a change the following day we continued our trip around the coast to Farsund.
The south coast of Norway where the Skagerrak meets the North Sea can be notoriously rough in the wrong conditions. A maelstrom of currents, mixed with strong wind can whip up horrible seas, specifically on the exposed stretch from Lindesnes to Lista. Naturally we don’t choose to go out in bad weather, but we appreciate how quickly things can change and always have the most current marine forecast.
The Lindesnes lighthouse is the first lighthouse built in Norway. The damp and rainy day wasn’t as windy as we’d hoped so the iron sail had to be started. We could barely make out the Lindesnes lighthouse through the mist as we rounded the southern cape. Between Lindesnes and Lista is an 11nm skärgård of islets and skerries and we navigated our way to Farsund through the well charted waters.
Farsund is an easy harbour to visit, with tidy white timber buildings terraced up the hillside. We tied to the city dock, leaving no more than half a metre of water under the keel. Tides are almost non-existent in this part of the world, but that will change as we head farther north. Right at the dock is a supermarket which was convenient but the harbour facilities were closed for the season.
The rain persisted all day – a result of strong northerly winds – so we decided to wait it out on anchor for a few days. Next to Store Eigeroy about 2nm from Farsund, we dropped anchor and let the northerlies pass over. The days were bright and sunny and after three nights on anchor, we headed back into Farsund for some supplies and to take advantage of the forecast favourable winds the following day. We had an opportunity to travel to Flekkefjord, about 40kms away and a local bus runs there a few times each day. (tip: when buying local bus tickets in Norway, huge savings can be made by buying through busline AKT’s app rather than on the bus).
It can get quite gnarly around the Lista coastline where the Norwegian coastal current meets the Atlantic current – the Skaggerak and the North Sea. But for us, an easterly wind was ideal to sail around the coast passing Lista and heading up towards Egersund.
The day was perfect to keep sailing as we had good wind and plenty of daylight. To sail was tempting, but I’d seen a photo of a view at Kirkehavn in my RCC Pilot of Norway and I just had to visit and see the view for myself. So we turned and headed towards Kirkehavn.
Approaching Kirkehavn the first obvious building at the entrance to the town is a white wooden church, giving the town its name.The guest dock on the southern bank is free for visitors but has no facilities except water. Soon after docking and a bite of lunch, I was off walking up the hill which takes around 30 minutes. The views are stunning and better than in the book! Kirkehavn has a small supermarket where you can buy licorice ice-creams and other items, particularly rewarding after a hike up the hill.
The Hågåsen kystbatteri is atop the hill high above Kirkehavn. This fortification is one of hundreds of Nazi Germany fortresses built in 1942 along the Northern European and Scandinavian coastlines to defend against an expected allied invasion – known as the Atlantic Wall. The expanse of ruins are explained through descriptive information boards in English.
From Kirkehavn to Egersund is around 29nm. No wind at all for this leg but we must keep hopping north when we can as it’s easy to get holed up for a week otherwise.
I was keen to arrive at Egersund on the 16th as May 17th is Norway’s National Day and I wanted to see how the Norwegians celebrated.
A naked Nymph with her hands raised to the sky welcomes us to the harbour of Egersund. The day before the celebrations the marina is quiet and our friends from Moon are one day ahead of us and help us with our lines. The harbour office is at the end of the pier and access to showers, toilets, water, electricity and water are included. (Laundry facilities are super cheap too at only NOK20).
Constitution Day: May 17th is Norway’s National Day commemorating the signing of the constitution on 17th May 1814. Celebrations are equivalent to the US Independence Day or St Patricks Day so it’s a big affair! May 17 is more like a party, especially for the children.
The day begins with freshly baked bread, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, and champagne for the adults. By mid- morning, groups of traditionally dressed children of all ages, led by marching bands, parade through their communities shouting “hurrah” and waving flags.
The rest of the day for the kids is filled with eating unlimited amounts of ice-creams and hot-dogs, listening to speeches and more flag waving. Older teens dress in coloured overalls are glad school has finished. We got into the swing of things and had a hot-dog for lunch and we were offered a large piece of cake from another boat. Shops and businesses are closed as this is a local day for the people and a nice day out for tourists.
On display are the National dress of the men and women of Norway – their ‘bunad’. Each design indicates where in Norway they come from and there are hundreds of designs, all uniquely tailored to suit the individual. A bunad can be worn for weddings, christenings, important family events, and other formal events.
Around the marina it was odd to see so many well-dressed people sitting on boats – women in long black skirts and intricately embroidered bodices, men in blue suits and tan shoes – usually people that hang around marinas are dressed more like us, scruffy.
We watched the parade then walked up Varberg, the hill that overlooks the town of Egersund. It took around 15 minutes and we had great views of the town and surrounding hills. We were warned that the drinking and revelling would go on into the night, but to our surprise everything was peaceful and orderly and we had a good night’s sleep.
Already the geography is changing along this stretch of coast.
The following morning we left early as we wanted to add some diesel from the self service station located next to the Nymph, and catch an early breeze to sail north. Diesel here was NOK12.60 per litre (A$2.09 per litre), so we only grabbed a small amount, hoping to get cheaper fuel north.
So off we go towards our next destination.