Monday, 12 May 2008

NORWAY TRIP 28/04/ TO 06/05/2008

It was if my memory serves me right last autumn when Mark sent out an e mail enquiring if anyone was perhaps interested in paddling in Norway in 2008.
He just wanted some indication and I replied with a “might be” depending on costs etc.
Mark has a Norwegian fiancee and has paddled over there before.
My links with Norway were also there, although tenuous as my neighbour Helger comes from the North and we have had many a glass of red wine and late conversations on the beauty of the place.
Mark started to plan and by this spring dates and costs were arriving, the three of us, with Gareth had given it the green light.
At this stage we were not sure if Ian could make it, monies were sent to the ferry company and the calendar was marked for countdown purposes.
We also fortunately found that Ian could make it so there were four of us.
The plan then was to drive in two vehicles to Newcastle, load one car with the four boats and use that for the carriage of the boats and place all our kit into the car and the three of us would then go on as foot passengers.
Mark haggled and we managed to get it for £100 each which in fairness to Mark was a bloomin good price.
I then started to purchase the essentials, sleeping bag, liners and the usual array of toys and gadgets.
The new Garmin Colorado 300 GPS well you need to know where you are in such Norwegian parts.
We met occasionally as a group and on the last occasion practised some rescue and towing techniques so all were confident in each other’s ability to assist all.
We also insured that the four kayaks would fit; although on the real run could we remember how we positioned them!
A sketch would have assisted as this came up on two occasions.
Ga had a skeg fitted by Mike at Rockpool I have delayed such as I wanted to maximise the storage ability.
We had done an overnighter before and shared the tent and cooking kit, the only extra was the food for this trip, we had decided to take all our food so minimising costs.
Ga sorted the tucker out buying the sealed packs from Asda, these consisted of spag ball, Curry sauces with meat combined with the accompanying packets of rice and pasta.
Also some dried pasta, I also bought the French style dried salami meats the non chilled ones, also porridge, packets of figs, apricots and mixed fruit and nuts.
Powdered custard and biscuits including cereal bars and other sundries, £24 each so again not breaking the bank.
I had 2 Lomo 30L Tapered dry bags with purge valves bought for my birthday and what a fantastic piece of kit, they fully utilised the space within the boat.
Part of the food was stored in the stern whilst the other consisted of all my clothing; I tried to be very minimalistic and as usual never wore half of the stuff!
The months trundled on, Ga included the trip on the UK rivers web site and he was approached by Walter if he could join us, Ga agreed and we waited in anticipation as we knew very little about him.
A risk in such situations as if we did not get on it could quiet easily spoil such a trip.
Walt made his own arrangements and was going as a walk on passenger wheeling his kayak aboard.
The day approached and as usual I kept an eye on the weather and the cam pictures from the Lyesfjord site,
The week before appeared glorious, and we had been sent a local link to Stavanger’s weather.
At this point I must mention Erling.
Erling picked up on Ga’s topic on the forum and together with Mark he linked up and sent loads of maps and software.
He was also our link for local knowledge and gave advice on camp sites etc.
Erling paddles with the Stavanger club and knows the area and sea conditions well, this is without doubt a great help when paddling in a new environment.
He had also agreed to meet us and Mark had also made contact with the local Police and again we learnt that the Local Supt was also there to meet and greet.
We started to feel like Royalty, hey would they paint the reception areas and cut the grass!
Monday 28th April arrived, Amy was out doing keep fit and Beth had her school meal, the teachers accompany them.
So we were alone and decided to walk down the village, we had a few drinks and ended up having a very pleasant curry.
Back home when Beth arrived very distressed she felt so ill.
We jumped to the rescue and unfortunately Mag went flying sliding on various fluids and a quilt in so doing her old hamstring again.
What a night two patients and I’m off in the morning.
Both girls off sick, Beth had a rough night as unfortunately so did Mags.
On the road for 10.00 having double checked everything and meeting Ga in Queensferry at 1100.
The journey up was refreshingly without incident, a sunny day and fairly quiet roads, the ship was to depart at 1800 and we arrived on the car park at around 1530 so we had plenty of time.
We even went to Tesco and Ga purchased a nice pink coloured flask.
The guys arrived and we went through the loading/unloading thing I took my car to the long term stay car park.
I had only found out the night before that it was going to be £8 per night!
My father had done this trip and mentioned to Ga re the car park facilities although he had omitted to mention the costs.
So if you have any mates in Newcastle it could be an option to save some money and have a shuttle service as although shared the car park fee was more than ½ the price of the ship!
We hadn’t thought to exchange mobile details with Walt in fact the communication links should have been more a lesson learnt.

Newcastle the start

We boarded and it was our first task to ID Walter, a pink carnation in the lapel or perhaps carrying OP under his left arm might have assisted but a guy walking towards us with Yellow Crocs might give you a clue! The meet and greet took place and we later settled into our cabins, very cosy a cabin for four.
We also learnt that Walter had a disaster and his Eckla trolley had a blow out on the dockside.
Fortunately he was able to get the assistance of a Good Samaritan who allowed him to place his kayak onto the rear of his trailer.
How two mortals achieved this I will never know, I’ll cover the weight of Walt’s boat at a later time.
The inner tube had basically blown leaving a large hole and beyond repair.
None of us had a spare tube, pump or repair kits, worth considering if you have planned a load of portage within the trip.
Or you could purchase the trolley from Kaya Wales Ga had done, this trolley has solid wheels so swings and round about’s.
Another tip for the crossing is to take your own tinnies and other drinks on board, they have an alleged duty free and of course numerous bars but at over £4 for 50cl of lager.
The water appeared drink able from the tap, accommodation basic but satisfactory on suit shower and toilet.
The trip was from 1800 to 1500 so it was a long one.
We went to the restaurant and opted for the £20 buffet, excellent food and value, loads of fish and sea fare, with sections with cooked meats and of course a large hot plate area.
I spent some time sampling various sea foods and by the time we had finished I could not have even managed a wafer thin mint.
Gave the breakfast buffet a miss, again good value at £10, Mark and Ian had the breakfast and we were also rewarded by some well left over’s, thanks lads.
A crossing with some slight swell making walking on board interesting but not difficult, £4 for a small carafe of coffee so again an expensive ship.
Walt tried to fill his flask at the bar areas for our landing, they stated there would be a charge and he was directed to the restaurant where he was sorted for free.
We went on the decks as we turned into Stavanger, loads of small islands and some breeze about.

The gang, Ian, Mark(MT), me, Ga and Walt

Erling had warned us that the first few days were going to have some wind.
We spotted a white Volvo 240 on the dock side and having seen Ealing’s site it was no doubt his vehicle.
Docked and doors open at 1501, OK so they were one minute over.
We all met at the dockside ferry road where we were warmly met by Erling and Tom the local Sheriff.
Some exchange of gifts and beverages, Erling and I did a pre arranged swap of stickers; I shortly placed the Norwegian flag on my kayak.
As we had landed we could clearly see a small slip a short distance from the docking area and very achievable by trolley, I learnt the Erling uses this area to launch although there are wooden steps to negotiate, if you use this area watch out for the bottom step its loose and dangerous.
Also even with portage straps the angle is severe and not ideal but achievable with assistance.
Erling was apprehensive for us to launch from this area his fears were I presumed based on not knowing our abilities with the breeze and the shipping traffic within this area.
We were intending to paddle eastwards and then south towards Tingholem a small island which had some camping facilities shown.
We relented to his kindness and hospitality and from his advice we removed some kit from Walters kayak which took some time and it was placed on Erlings vehicle.
He took us north up to east corner of Hundvaag we used the jetty and beach of a local school, there was also a hose available for drinking water.
Mark and Erling did the shuttle run as his car was being stored at Tom’s house; this took some time which allowed us to load the boats.
Although I had done a bit of a dry run re the packing my first attempt was poor.
I had to store a dry bag on the stern deck, which with the wind I was not over enthusiastic about.
The start

I seemed to struggle to pack everything whilst Ga said he actually had some room spare, I had taken a 3 litre box of red just in case we had a do etc on the last night, Walt had a bag of white so I suggested that he bring it along which he agreed.
I had packed a small plastic bottle with some fine 10 year old malt, you know it’s handy for sterilizing wounds etc I have seen it in the cowboy movies.
We were ready and Erling took a team photo which he stated would be duly be posted on the UK river forum, Walter had brought his Blackberry and we were able to see the pics!
We were off and we had a wind against us, little knowing that would be a theme for the week, it was a south easterly but nothing too strong.
The area was fairly busy with a couple of big ships passing, we had split up as Ga and MT were map reading which in such areas of traffic was poor, we should have remained tighter.
Our intention was to pitch camp before darkness so after 5.61 miles we came across Tingholem, a scenic bay and we managed to shelter from the wind.
A slightly angled pitch and we soon set up camp.
We quickly realised that MT had some hidden skills, he quickly lit a fire, again a theme throughout the trip he was known as the twisted fire starter.
Walter introduced us all to the advantage of portage straps, they were invaluable and certainly with fully laden kayaks a must.
We came to Walt’s boat and even with four of us my testicles nearly ended up in my neck.
It was incredibly heavy although the boat a P&H Kevlar Quest is relatively light; he had more kit than you could shake a stick at.
Arriving at the first camp site

A mixed night winds and some rain, waking up it was evident that the wind had picked up.
A toilet shed on the island, clean and one comfort that is appreciated, nothing else other than some recycling and rubbish facilities which are clearly marked on the map.

One cruiser came in and moored over night, other than that the island was ours.
The wind was strong but by the time we had packed and ready to launch it had settled down considerably.
Our objective was the Fjord we didn’t want to have a precise agenda re where and when we would stop.
It suited us although I can see why and how it would frustrate some.
As long as there was a point to paddle for such a visible objective helps with the head thing.
Off we set, the wind was stronger but directly in our faces, the swell had built up and it was a wet crossing, the hull doesn’t seem to slap so much when laden.
Along that coast and near to a fish farm we saw a spectacular Sea Eagle, what a breath taking sight it was huge and spectacular.
Unable to take any pictures the sea was fairly bubbly at some sections, although not it was very familiar to clapotis, waves from all directions.
It was going to be another day of head down and push against the winds and waves.
It was hard work; we had a few sheltered stops and landed on a small Island North of Adnoya, a small farm were we had the company of two horses.
Off again and we travelled to the mouth of Hogs Fjorden, we could see the ferry travelling but although MT indicated where the mouth of Lysefjorden was it couldn’t be seen.
Decided on the direct route and over to Oanes, spectacular views right and on landing we could see the familiar bridge. Space hopper breeding ground
Water obtained from the public WC sink although it stated that it was not drinking water with boiling it was suitable.
Walked up to the ferry kiosk where a charming young lady allowed me to fill my camelback from the chilled water machine.
Mark the twisted fire starter, one a night

Rockpool Pit Stop Oanes

Off again and fabulous views as we approached the bridge.
We were tired at this stage and although MT had the area clearly marked it seemed like ages before we got there.
Another toilet stop which have to be selected due to the terrain, at some areas there is just a sheer rock face either side making landings impossible, a receptacle of some type will be purchased or adapted in future for doing such in the cockpit.
I appreciate that you would have to be wearing an outfit with reliefs zips or shorts but certainly helpful when landing is not an option.
Around a couple of corners when the camp site came into view, a spectacular inlet where there was the customary toilet hut and a strong running stream, water!
Second and third nights camp site

A fabulous place with amazing views of the rock face of the Fjord.

Deviga, has the WC and bathing symbols clearly show the location on the map.
Quickly set up tents, yes smoke visible from MT,s pitch, the evening meal was followed by an attempt in fishing using both rod and hand lines without success.
A small whisky, some wines from Walt and bed.
It was not going dark until at least 2200, the views of the stars were spectacular as there was no light pollution at all.
A fantastic morning sunny and again spectacular views, packed and away, no confusion its either left or right so navigation if simple, right turn and up the Fjord.
Around the corner from the site and yes that familiar head wind.
Still with the views it made it worthwhile, waterfalls and of course Preikestolen in the distance, a 3000 metre rock face that still did not stop as it hit the water.
Some negotiation again for a number 1 stop and of course once mentioned we all want one.
We could see a grassy meadow ahead, ha about two hours later we arrived.
The magnitude of the place is beyond comprehension, large ships pass on the other side and look like toys, so distances are hard to calculate.

Dinner stop at Songesand a small ferry stop, MT spoke to a local who kindly offered up water, it was then decision time, do we continue to the bottom of the Fjord? We had done about 8 miles and had 12 to go.
Camp sites were not guaranteed if we didn’t make it to that objective and with calculations in order to get back for Monday comfortably we might have to use the ferry to assist us.
Team meeting, looking at the winds it would be a slog, compromise met and we paddled back our next stop was the previous night’s camp.
More waterfalls and this time wind and waves behind us making us realise what we had paddled against.
Back to camp, well rehearsed and again feeble effort t try and catch our tea!
Asda food on the trangia again.
17.4 miles that day so another good night’s sleep, oh yes forgot on our arrival ruminants of a fire which MT quickly took advantage of.
The usual texts from Erling, he sent one daily with the weather outlook.
A lovely day, sunny and a slight wind, up and away this time left turn, under the bridge and left towards the harbour of Forsand.
Locals out and about, a good sized shop there together on the front a WC with showers and washing machines for your laundry.
We purchased some fresh bread, cheese and debated on beers, which at £2.50 a can decided against it.
So a pleasant lunch and after an hour off again, a slight breeze which picked up as we went into the main flow of Hogs Fjord.
Again hard work and interesting seas, a few stops and we found Idsal Island.
It was 11 miles and we were glad to set up camp, lots of washed up rubbish as it was West facing, plastics etc but a lovely bay and the customary loo with a view.

Fourth nights stop
It was apparent that with the sunny weather, the effort and insufficient fluids I was a tad dehydrated, the usual slight headache so I tried to bang in more fluids.
Walt collected some mussels and clams and had a sea food starter.
I had collected some but we aired on the side of caution although Walt had some the day before and had not suffered any adverse effects.
It’s that what if thing and you end of as they say through the eye of a needle and spoiling the trip for a sake of a few mussels, they looked good in fairness and again Walt had his fresh garlic, onions and white wine sauce, roughing it or what!
Another good camp fire and bed although not a great night the lack of fluid management meant that I forever wanted a pee which in a bag and tent becomes tedious.
Just before bed the sea mists came in, visibility was poor and plans for the crossing were discussed.

Mist is coming
Text from Erling stating that Sunday was to be warmer and calmer winds, he was also out on the water so we were to make plans to meet him.
The mist cleared and it was a warm day, no problems with the route as we could see the other side, I had the GPS on navigation as we intended to re-visit Tingholem, Walt had lost his sun glasses and realised that they could be there.
Met two paddlers who had camped there overnight; unfortunately Walt could not find his glasses.
Off we set and channel 6 to try and locate Erling
A few tries and eventually we picked him up although somewhat broken, we ascertained that he was on the North West side of Lindoy again a small bay and the grounds of a school.

Erling and his new Tide Race Exporer
We also met some of the Stavanger paddlers.

Another meet and greet with Erling he also had his new Tide Race Explorer.
We managed to open some taps with the help of a Leatherman and stocked up again for the last night and days paddling.
We then accompanied Erling as he headed north towards the location of our last camp spot.
He set off like a rocket and we chuckled quietly as we dug in and endeavoured to keep up with him
He paddled like a man possessed.
It was great to have had the opportunity to paddle with such a gentleman.
He left us and we continued on towards the small Island of Line, again long day and I was happy to feel land and pitch the tent.
Met a couple of locals out and also saw what appeared to be a pod of Porpoises.
It seemed like a long day we had been on the water a while and it was 12 miles in total.
It had been a great last full days paddling, some difficulties finding good pitches as the land was fairly damp.
All sorted and we used an unusually sited apple tree for our wash and drying lines.
Not long before the smoke of our last night’s camp fire rose in a windless sky.
Tried again but failed on the fishing front, never mind.

Day 6

Another sound sleep and a lie in.
We were not due to sail until 1800 and it was a very warm and sunny morning.
Seemed no sense in rushing off and hanging about in Stavanger, so after several brews and some cereal we decided to pack up.
Walt had beat us all to it and decided to go out on his own for a paddle.
Everything packed and the dry suit was out and ready reluctantly for the last stage.
It was the only day that this garment was not the best option, not bad 5 out of the 6 days.
I remained in my underpants when three boats arrived with primary school kids, they were on a days outing.

Last nights camp site

Chatted with the teachers and we prepared reluctantly for the last paddle.
The children were lined up on the shores edge and gave us a rendition of a Norwegian song it was a lovely touch, waves and applause from ourselves as we paddled off.
Sea was like glass and a pleasant 5 ½ miles paddle.

Walt paddled up to a fishing boat and we had one of the phrases of the week.
It was his intention to hand over his camera so the guy could take a group photo, he came along side and asked him if he would take a photo of us all to which he replied, “ I don’t have a camera” He took the photo and off we paddled smiling at Walt’s story not sure what the guy would have done if he had a camera!
Came along the coast approaching Stavanger from the West, which from Erlings advice appeared the quietest and safest option.
Landed at that slip and after emptying the boats we assisted each other and brought them up onto the car park.
A quick call to Erling and MT was shuttled away to collect his car.
Walt used Ga’s trolley and off he went up to the port.
We parked the car up and understandably Walt was reluctant to leave his boat.
We headed into town where we had a guided tour and sat on the front for a few beers, £6.30 for 50 cl you only have a few! Glorious sun shine and not too sure if it was due to being away for 6 days with guys that all the girls looked gorgeous.
Bought some bread, meats, apples and crisps for a snack and also for the following mornings breakfast.
We all felt a tad tipsy, a hot day, paddling and beer, they do not mix, oh yes found the box of red wine in MT’s car, Ga had fortunately forgot to pack it in the kayak, so after a well deserved shower and shave, luxury after 6 days we had a few wines, the buffet and some beers, slept well and it was a very smooth crossing.


Ships reception/departure area

Taking in some rays

Back to Newcastle and then a horrendous journey through the M62 at Manchester to finally land at 2000 hrs.
What a great week, lessons learnt well a few, Portage straps, a must with laden boats.
Food, allow a few extras rather than itemise each meal. We took tea and no coffee but luckily blagged some from the guys.
A small chopping and preparation board, fresh garlic and some herbs and spices to get some more flavours.
The other acessesment was the ROCKPOOL Alaw and Bach,s performance.
Although regarded as a day boat I must commend them on there performance throughout whilst laden.
The handling on mine improves with weight to the rear, no skeg and still managed to handle the swells and bubbly sea.
We were out for 5 full days re food and although shared we had plenty to eat and sufficinet kit.
If you are considering such and put off by other claims, if you intend to do mainly day trips and want the fun, speed and flexability of the Alaw with one or two extended trips don't be put off there great.
I tended to wear the same kit when changing from the paddling gear, other than socks and underwear.
Apart from that make sure you book early for next year.
Thanks guys for a great week!
Newcastle ahoy!

1 comment:

Simon said...

What a great trip! I can't wait to go back to Norway.