Northerly headwinds or lack of wind hindered our progress for a week or so. We had no choice but to motorsail from Egersund and around the top of Stavanger along the southwest coast of Norway. Travelling on the Saturday of the Constitution Day long weekend, the weather was warm and the air very still. Choosing a suitable anchorage north of Stavanger (identified in the Harbour Guide), we motored along only to find the chosen anchorage filled with weekend sailors. No problem as two miles along we found a quiet bay – Litlevag – where we dropped the pick for the night.
Fishing harbours typically have cheaper diesel than marinas or guest harbours. Such was the case at the fishing wharf at Skudeneshavn at the south end of Karmøy which sold diesel for NOK10.49 per litre (A$1.73/litre), a big difference from NOK12.60 at Egersund. That’s the cheapest we’ve seen anywhere in Norway so we added 300 litres to our tanks.
The North Sea offshore oil and gas industry is apparent along these islands, with semi-submersibles, jack-ups and other support vessels in various states of construction or engagement filling the small harbours.
Filling propane cylinders in Norway isn’t so easy, especially without a car. So when the opportunity arises to fill our cylinder(s) it makes sense to do so. Dropping anchor at the north of Karmøy, Wayne paddled the dinghy and took the gas bottle across to Hagia and the LPG Norge filling station. When he came back he said the attendant was stoked as he’d never seen an Aussie pull in for LPG! We hadn’t used much gas since filling the bottle in Flensburg but it was good to top it up anyway (FYI around NOK25 per kg).
Filled with diesel and propane, we continued motoring north and entered the channel into the town of Haugesund. The southern bridge across the channel has a vertical clearance of 22m and the guest dock on the eastern bank has plenty of room. Paying for the berth was super easy through the GoMarina app. Overnight fee of NOK155 was pretty good, plus an extra NOK50 if we needed electricity, but we didn’t. Apparently a nearby hotel sells shower, toilet and laundry tokens but we had no need for those either. Haugesund has a long shopping road/mall offering the usual – stuff for interiors, clothes, cafes, etc. – there’s even a good chandlery/fishing store at the wharf.
As we still have a few weeks in Norway, we decided to travel into the Hardangerfjord and hike within the Folgefonna National Park.
The forecast was for heavy rain for a few days so we stopped at a small island, Lykelsøya and tied up to a floating pontoon in around 14m depth. The day we arrived was very warm (24degC), the sky was blue and the cold azure water looked stunning. It was obvious to us that such a warm day would be followed by a front, changing to cold and rainy soon after. Unlike us, the 14degC water temperature was enough to allure three young boys from a small dinghy. Daring each other to jump in the water, they laughed and shrieked as their skinny white bodies dived below and quickly shot out back onto the dock.
Last summer’s hiking tracks through the scrub had disappeared and have yet to be established at this time of year. We tried to hike around the island we didn’t get far into the bush. I got some nice photos of the boat though.
Just before we went to bed I flushed the toilet and on the third pump the intake blocked! Bugger! Wayne took the pump apart and water flowed through just fine. To be sure there wasn’t a small obstruction (sometimes even a small shell), we used the bicycle pump to blow air down through the hose and successfully heard bubbles outside, indicating no blockage. So the blockage had to be in the white pipe from the pump to the toilet, or at the toilet itself. Wayne took the white hose off and peered into it, then pumped water through it. A small fish about 4cm long flew out onto the floor! We had found Nemo! Later that afternoon we sucked in another Nemo, again blocking the intake. At least this time we knew what the problem was and quickly fixed it. It’s much better than having a blocked outlet!
So after two days of bucketing rain holed up watching movies, reading books, finding Nemo(s) and listening to news via podcasts we were ready to continue our journey.
From Lykelsøya with light winds, we motored 15nm to Rosendal, a popular tourist town in the summer months and an access town to the Folgefonna National Park. This time of year the marina was empty, except for a couple of other yachts and small local boats. Payment for a berth is easy using a credit card payment machine located in a small white building nearby. Cost was NOK250 per night (A$40) plus extra for electricity and showers. The amenities are first rate and I took the opportunity to do some laundry too.
Rosendal has some excellent hikes, but with limited time and more rain forecast for the following day, we didn’t go far, walking up the hill overlooking the town for some great views. The trail passes over farmer’s land passing docile dairy cows as they munch the lush green grass.
We stayed just one night then continued the following day to the island of Sild. (Sild is Norwegian for herring). We thought we had the place to ourselves, but just as we arrived so did another power boat. The stern mooring is so far away that our 20m line wasn’t long enough. After snatching the mooring with my mooring hook, the guy, already docked, then helped me with the bow lines. After which we extended the stern line a little more. I don’t understand why the moorings need to be so far from the boats. Water depth was deep enough for our hull right up to the dock. There are not too many anchorages within the fjords. Depth not far from the banks can drop down to 100m in no time at all; the centre of the fjords can be up to 800m deep. It’s easier to take a berth or tie up to a dock.
From Sild, the tiny village of Sundal is just over 6nm east. Blue Heeler was the only boat in town, and probably the first yacht for the season. We tied to sturdy posts that hold up a rickety dock. There is a floating dock for the summer season visitors, but it is still stored out of sight and won’t be deployed for another couple of weeks. Depth at the dock was 2.5m and we arrived at low tide (tide range is around 50cm). Within the park are a few people in campers and caravans, but the kiosk hasn’t opened for the season either. Nonetheless, we had electricity at the dock and hot showers in the ablutions block.
Access to Norway’s third largest glacier can be reached via Rosendal and Sundal within the Hardangerfjord. I’d already planned on a hike through the Bondhusdalen valley and after a quick lunch, we headed out into the Folgefonna National Park.
From the Sundal Camping ground the walk to the head of the trail and car park is around 20 minutes. From here another easy “green” route, 35 minutes to the Bondhusvatnet lake, with stunning scenery all the way.
The next leg of the trip is medium “blue” grade – this track goes further in to the moraine fields (Vetledalen) under the Bondhusbrea Glacier. The trail was rocky at first giving way to wet and muddy farther along with small bridges to cross creeks. On the northern side of the lake is a pebble beach and from here we continued along until we reached the glacier’s moraine field. A photo from 1997 showed the glacier much bigger, but now, 22 years later it is visible only at the top of the mountain.
The walk back to the boat took just under two hours. Later than evening Kenneth, the camping park manager, came by and collected NOK130 for our nights stay. There are plenty of longer and harder hikes around the park including guided tours that cross the glacier, but these don’t commence until mid June.
Next morning we threw off the docklines and motored west and ended up berthed against another rickety dock at a dilapidated and derelict hotel at Godøysund. Peeking through the windows, I could see old printers, computers, and other items; tables, chairs and curtains still in place, while plates and other crockery are smashed on the floor. Apparently it was closed in 2016 and it looks like they just walked away leaving all the stuff inside to ruin. I imagine there may be sheeted beds upstairs too. Spooky!
Now we are nearing the end of our trip in Norway. Bergen is 30nm north and we are watching the forecast to gauge when we may cross to the Shetland Islands.
But first we have to reach Bergen.