In the year 2000 I have been sailing five months all the way to the roof of Europe: The North Cape! This is just a short account of this wonderful trip. Enjoy the pictures.
On June 22, 2000 at 3.30 am I was able to announce that Hans Haverkort and I had arrived at the North Cape while a fantastic sun was shining upon our heads. Nevertheless, the temperature was low and we felt much colder. It took us another four long hours to get to Honningvag, where we could moor the Lupa Maris, along with two other Dutch boats Volcmar van Campen and Dorado, whom we teamed up with in Bodo. By then we had sailed over 24 hours since we left Hammervest. This part of the trip had begun with rain and poor visibility. For a moment I was afraid that the North Cape would only be visible with the radar. Lucky enough, the skies cleared and the sun shone upon us, leaving us with a splendid view on the North Cape.
Yesterday I just sailed the most dangerous coast line in Norway, the Hustadvika, at least thats what the guide book said. The morning started without wind, so I sailed (on the motor) first thing that morning around 6.30 am. This time they forecasted new gale 7 SW, but decreasing in the evening. So I sailed to the most southerly part of the Hustadvika and took shelter in a very deserted harbor for what might come. The wind built up around noon and died after 15.00. With the possibility of the wind shifting to the NW, which would make the Hustadvika practically impassable, I set sail.
The first hour no wind, but then the wind built up in the evening, instead of decreasing. The Hustadvika is about 20 miles, and another 10 miles to get the Kristiansund. The wind was now gusting 25 knots (5 to 6 beaufort), and later even 35 knots (8 beaufort) with a maximum of 40 knots. The waves were, as I expected, not high, just one to two meters, but very steep. The reason that the Hustadvika is so dangerous lies in the fact that the waves from the ocean break on the shallow coast, which is between 20 to 100 meters deep. Surfing the waves provides a big danger of getting knocked down (more that 180 degrees).
So I used the High Aspect jib, which is a small jib, and the engine. The first to sail in gusts and the second to keep up speed with less wind to prevent waves breaking into the cockpit, which happened only once. Good for the morale was that some boats where close by, and two life boats past by, waving at me. The trip was difficult, particular navigation from inside the boat, and leave the tricky steering to the wind vane. It worked however. Around 2130 I arrived in Kristiansund (FULL DAYLIGHT!) where I was treated to a big shower from the sky. Nice touch of the trip was it built confidence, which I needed being alone so far from home. The decision to set sail was not wrong, but taught me not to do this when going back against that kind of wind speed. Even going with the wind south, which means a northwesterly wind, can be done only in moderate winds.
My trip went from IJmuiden to Haugesund. From there I sailed along the coast to Bodo where Hans joined me. The plan was that he would sail with me to the North Cape and back to Bodo. We made it to the Northe Cape, but not back to Bodo. Hans took a ferry from Tromso while I sailed back solo to Kristiansand, not Kristiansund! Kristiansand is on the south east coast. From there I sailed a along the south-east coast of Norway, then sailed to Sweden, Denmark back to Holland.
Navigation in Norway can be intimidating. There are many islands and rocks to navigate around. Coming from sea, often it is difficult to determine your precise location, which you really want to know! However, vardes, a stone navigational aid used for centuries is very helpful. A sector light is also very helpful in navigating through these waters. Although in the summer the lights are difficult to see or even not lit, the orange roofs are easy to locate. Using the detailed maps and a combinations of several sector lights and vardes, I was always able to navigate without much difficulty. The GPS only helped occasionally to make sure I was sailing into the right fjord, but between the many rocks and small islands, navigating on sight was the only way to navigate for me.
The first part of my solo trip from Bergen to Alesund was nice sailing in sheltered waters by many islands along the coast. It was May and the temperatures where about 15 degrees Celsius, but with the windshield much colder. However, behind the spray hood I could sit bare body and enjoy the sunshine. Bergen proved to be a wonderful small city, being party build against a hill. You can moor your boat quite in the centre of the city, close to a market and facilities. All provisions can be bought there, much culture to be seen and you can enjoy the cuisine, as we did.
In my ‘Norwegian Cruising Guide’ from John Armitage was a picture from Alesund. During the six months of preparations and anticipation I was looking at this picture and wondering how it would be like. I made the same picture once I was there! Alesund proofed to be a lovely city with canals, which was rebuilt in 1920 in Jugendstyle houses after a fire. This time all the houses had been built in brick! I spend a nice quite time there and could do some good provisioning.
June 8 became a memorable day. This day I crossed the arctic circle (66 33’N). I almost forgot the celebrate this passing. I was so busy with sailing and maneuvering that I hardly realized the occasion. On the arctic circle were two islands Lovund and Traena, which are fantastic small islands with fairytale mountains that rise dramatically out of the sea. Here you can see Traena from Lovund. Another island I have visited. It is a small island with little provision but great facilities. I found a small heated cabin with shower and laundry facilities, which I used gratefully. I was amazed anyway with the facilities along the coast of Norway. Never large scale but most of the times good facilities even on remote area’s.
During my trip my valuable wind vane steering device did much of the steering. Here you can see Erik-Jan, as I named my wind vane, in action. Days I could sail like this however not always within close distance of rocks. The wind vane steering is a wonderful piece of equipment using only wind for direction and water for power. Of course I also had an electronic steering device for close quarters or harbor maneuvering. However, in strong wind the wind vane proved to be a better choice for steering.
Once in Bodo, I joined two other boats to finish the last leg of the journey to the North Cape. There Hans Haverkort came onboard. I was almost there but we still had to sail to Tromso and Hammervest. With two other boats and a sail friend to company me, I felt good to continue my adventure. The loneliness was getting to me a bit by then and the pleasant company of Hans was very much appreciated. In several daytrips and a few overnighters we continued our journey North!
On June 22 we arrived at the North cape. Finally I had made my destination. Two wet sailing suits over one another had to keep my warm but it was really great arriving at the North Cape. We sailed around to create photo opportunities and waved our Dutch flags. My mission was accomplished and I felt good about it. Unfortunately, I could not plant my national flag on top of the North Cape. Once there by bus from Honningvag, I encountered a real massif tourist center with thousands of tourists who came by bus, car of otherwise. That was a bit of a downer, although looking down from the top, it still felt good knowing that I arrived there mastering my own boat!