Monday, August 17, 2015

Norway Post 39

Day 36


I had about 28 miles to Ornes, where I decided I would finish my trip. I kind of needed to go home and get a job before the upcoming school year.  The school that I taught at last year closed and various promising opportunities that I had lined up fell through.

Twenty eight miles in one day was on the high side, so maybe I would finish early tomorrow. I wound through the tight archipelago and then crossed north east to an intermediary island between me and the mainland.

The wind from yesterday had only calmed slightly and I had to set my boat at a moderate ferry angle to compensate. At the northern end of the island was another archipelago though smaller than the first. By the time that I navigated out of that the wind turned into a solid tailwind and the sun warmed the world so much that for the first time in weeks I rolled to cool off. Those arctic waters did the job splendidly.

I caught a glimpse of Svartisen, an enormous glacier above me. Svartisen rose above the mountains like an ice dune and in the sunlight gleamed white as though it had never ever been peed on, which was quite impossible because that water had been frozen up there for a very long time. If there was any chance at all that it had actually never been peed on I would have landed my kayak then and there, climbed those mountains, and claimed that glacier for mankind. However, not being the first guy to lay eyes on one of god's most glorious gifts, I could paddle assured that some when someone had found a way.

Svartisen is a field of ice spanning 369 km^2 and for the rest of the day I reveled in amazing views of different angles and different parts of the enormous glacier.

I turned into a fjord and the tail wind I had enjoyed for most of the afternoon politely turned with me.

I slipped under a bridge, turned a corner, and after seven and a half hours on the water found a sign that said guest marina. Ornes was another seven and a half miles away, an easy jaunt for tomorrow morning and I would most likely arrive in time to catch the cruise ship to take me and my boat back to Alesund.

Children enjoyed the unusually warm day by swimming around the marina. None of them looked like they were about to die. Maybe Norwegian woman are so beautiful because they're have seal blood in them.

The shower in the gjest marina building was locked, but a sign advertised kayaking courses in the area and and I was given directions to the instructor's house up on the hill where I found a shower and an invitation to stay for dinner.

I found myself sitting at a table with three tall blond seal blooded lady kayakers, each one as bright as the glacier and as pretty as the sea. One of them wasn't seal blooded after all, she was from Upstate New York. I told them all sorts of kayaking stories in which I was the hero and they wanted to hear more. I may not have found Slartibartfast's plaque, but under a glacier in the Arctic circle I found heaven.

There was only one catch. It was Christian heaven. You see, all the young outdoors enthusiasts around me were the leadership of the bible school I sat in. The bible school had a strong outdoors program. Behind me a couple of guys shot a bb gun at a tree.

The thing is, in order to go to Christian heaven, you have to accept Jesus as your personal savior, and even for all the best kayaking seal blooded woman in the world, I wasn't ready to do that. I have Judaism, and while I wouldn't recommend it for everyone (anyone) I like it more than I do tall blond kayakers. Either that or I was so intoxicated by the dream I found myself in that I couldn't help but stumble away.

I got back in my kayak and paddled to Ornes. The wind had changed to blow against me, but I had the shiny bright strength of victory and paddled without weariness. All of my warm kayaking clothing was wet in my hatches from being rinsed down after the day's paddle so my bare shoulders felt the sun set and ignored the cold that came afterwards.

A porpoise surfaced and snorted. Maybe he was one of the three I'd seen the first week come to say goodbye. 

In Ornes on the dock I met a man who opened up the marina's gjest house for me.

"Wish me congratulations," I told him.

He shook my hand and looked at me questioningly.

"I paddled here from Alesund. It's been about 640 nautical miles and I think it's time to go home. It's been spectacular."

"Congratulations," he said.

I caught the cruise ship the next morning at 7:15. The kayak was too heavy and I didn't want to drag it all that way on the asphalt. There was nowhere closer to the cruise ship's dock to make a landing. I borrowed an unhitched car wagon trailer from a parking space in the marina.

The ship took me back the way I came. In two days it rewound through seven weeks.

I didn't find Slartibartfast's plaque, but I did find one of the most amazing summer kayaking adventures I could hope to have. Perhaps I'll have to come back one day to keep on looking.



Sunday, August 16, 2015

Norway Post 38

Day 35

On Saturday an east wind slipped through the mountains out to sea and loved what it found. It told its friends and soon more and more came. By Sunday they were flying. The forecast called for a southeast wind, but I'd met the southeast wind before, and perhaps if I stood at the top of a mountain I could look to the southeast and feel the wind on my face, but down at sea level, the wind raced out of the fjords, whether they were pointed to the southeast, east, or northeast. I chose a route that would leave me sheltered from the wind by islands, except for when I crossed to and from them.

I hoped that this time the wind would really be more from the south, and as I headed northwest up to the end of the peninsula it was. I turned north and crossed into the arctic circle. A monument on an island marks the line and I celebrated achieving my trips major secondary objective. I hadn't found Slartibartfast's plaque, but I found the Arctic's and rejoiced with song.

I cut due north to the archipelago that would shelter me from the wind. The crossing was slow and the arctic waters sloshed around over my boat bouncing it up and down. Not even a little bit of the wind came from the south, it was straight out of the fjord, north east.

With the shelter of the islands the wind flashed from calm to sprint in every direction. The water densely rippled around me without enough fetch to grow into anything more formidable. My next crossing would be much longer. Tomorrow the weather would be much better. The sun was bright and beautiful and the weather warm, but if I got separated from my boat in wind and waves during the crossing, the arctic waters would suck the life out of me like a monkey with a yogurt tube.

I've never been separated from my kayak before, and I haven't missed a roll in a long time, but better safe than a discarded monkey's yogurt tube.

I pulled into a small harbor and was invited to stay in a lovely guest apartment. Check out www.Helgelandsidyll.no if you're looking to visit Norway. The shower handle has a digital temperature display, and if that's not enough the owner rents kayaks and it's one of the most beautiful places to paddle in the world.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Norway Post 37

Day 34

The weather was much the same as Day 30, except that the wind changed direction to be head on.

I pushed through the cold windy unhappiness towards the end of the peninsula. Once there I would turn north and a little east and likely have a tail wind. About a mile before that I found a nice marina with a shower and a living room, so I gave up exhausted having covered less than half of my intended route for the day.

I needed a break. It had been a long week. The next day, Friday, was my birthday. If I paddled north I might not end up anywhere for the Sabbath as nice as the marina I was in, so I took the day off.

A strong north wind in the afternoon meant I had probably chosen wisely. The sun lit the world and wild flowers perfumed the air. The mountains here are beautiful and one of them is sporting an enormous cave fairly high up. This is a great birthday!

On Sunday I'll hopefully cross into the Arctic circle, just three miles north of here, and on Monday I'll likely end my trip in Ornes. That only leaves me with two more days of paddling to find the plaque. But even if it doesn't turn up, the trip won't have been a failure. I've documented my route so future explorers will know where it's not. Also, I'm having a pretty great time looking for it and that has to count for something, right?


From Norway Aug 13 2015

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Norway Post 36

Day 33

Gray clouds blanketed the sky. The original plan had been to arrive in Brattland today, but that was too far from my middle of the nowhere camp off my original route. I could go to Nesna, but there wasn't much in between and Nesna was too close.
I could take the sea side shore of Hugla and Handnesoy as a shortcut and arrive in Bratland today after all. I'd see less of the inner cost and consequently would be less likely to find Slartibartfast's plaque, but I'd get a better view of the islands Donna and Lokta which are sufficiently spectacular that it might be hidden on one of their cliffs. Maybe today would be the day that I find it after all.

I had a great tail wind and moved quickly, if frigidly, through the gray rainy Sttgfjorden. I took a fairly straight route through the center of the fjord .  In the wind without shelter changing snack bottles and peeing was challenging. I did these things quickly during lulls in the weather.

Near Selnes, towards the end of my day, I was less sheltered by islands to the west than I had been earlier and the wind changed direction to take advantage of the weakness in my defenses. Instead of a tail wind I had a beam wind. Breaking waves sloshed over my boat, sometimes chest high, and I bobbed up and down on the swells as I leaned into the wind and pushed towards Alderfjorden.

Once there, I rejoiced. I turned east and for the last couple miles enjoyed a solid tailwind. When I pulled into Brattland's marina I pumped about an inch of frigid water out of my boat. A man let me into the marina's shower and living room. I introduced myself and shook his hand.

"You're freezing!" He said.

"I know." I told him. The hot shower was nice.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Norway Post 35

Day 32

The forecast called for southeast winds. My day began with crossing Leirfjorden which pointed to the northeast, and that's where the wind came from.

While fighting through it the huge cruise liner which I incorrectly call Hutaruita bore strait down on me from much too close at nearly the speed of sound. I lay my paddle on my skirt so that both hands were free to grab my radio. I keep it secured to the back of my life vest so that it looks a little bit like a ninja sword. I don't use it very often and unclipping it is a two hand procedure.*

Panicked, my radio message was not in the best form "SECURITAY SECURITAY SECURITAY. Solo yellow kayak crossing north from Sandnessjoenn. Hootaroota, this is Solo Yellow Kayak, Make Sure You See Me. Hutaruita, this is Solo Yellow Kayak. Make sure you see me! I'm heading north."

I turned east to get out of his way and a moment later the juggernaut turned enough to the west so that I wouldn't die.

I finished my crossing and began paddling north along the Ranen peninsula. The wind came from every which way and strongly. Sometimes it would be a headwind, others a tail wind or a beam wind. I watched gusts ripple across the water to feel a brief whoosh when they arrived and then passed.

I stopped on a beach to stretch my legs and remove the water that accumulated in my boat during the crossing. My spray skirt is not a great fit. A woman who lived in a house above the beach warned me that a storm was coming.

My goal for the day was Nesna and when I began crossing the fjord to the neighboring island of Hugla the wind was with me, but as soon as I was farther out in the channel it set against me. The wind continued against me as I climbed into white caps and bounced over oncoming waves. Nesna was about seven miles away, but at my current speed I wouldn't make it any time soon.

I turned around and landed on a beach with a number of houses above it. Quite a bit of rain was forecast for the night so I was especially hoping to find a garage or boathouse to sleep in. All the driveways were empty. Summer homes, without very much summer this year people were staying south.

I got back in my boat and paddled a little farther back and took out at a small dock with a couple of motor boats tied up to it. The first people I met told me to continue paddling back even further to a guest house at the marina. The second people I met were happy to let me sleep in their garage.

The moment I had dragged all my things up and was under its shelter the storm began. Thunder boomed and rain soaked the earth. The waterfall on the cliff above me roared.

I was cold but at least dry. I took out my things to make dinner and realized I left my fuel canister in my kayak. I ran through the torrential rain down a grassy path, onto the bridge over the rushing stream, to the dock and got my canister. The rain poured, but back in my garage I made dinner.

I had not been invited into the house to shower.  A hose next to the garage invited me to snuggle in its icy jaws. I ACCEPT!

I went naked into the freezing rain and hosed myself down. I scrubbed with Dr Bronner's soap and then rinsed myself off. I wanted to huddle and shiver but instead I breathed deeply, looked into the sky, and shouted from my soul "I AM A BEAST. I LOVE LIFE."

Then I was a clean beast, and then I was shivering in the garage and getting dressed when a neighbor came in and invited me to sleep in his house and take a hot shower if I like.

The warm bed was nice. Maybe I'm more like a Lab, they like beds, the water, and are vaguely beast-like to people who are scared of dogs.

*Later I changed the system because it was stupid.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Norway Post 34

Day 31

Sunday morning I set out away from the fjords into one of Norway's most beautiful archipelagos and a world heritage sight. Some 6,000 low islands cluster together just north of Vega. Across that pristine expanse is the island of Husvaer where a kayaking couple live and host other paddlers. They advertise on their website that they're there and paddling all year round so come on by. The few other kayakers I've me on my journey told me that I have to visit, both because it's so beautiful and because I'm sure to meet other paddlers.

My first crossing was to the island Ylvingen. Leaving Bronnoysund I passed a number of small islands before getting out into the channel proper. About five minutes after I passed the last of those, with a substantial tailwind, I began to panic that I didn't pack my phone and wallet.

I wanted to just keep going. Worst case scenario I would arrive in Husvaer and figure out how to take public transportation back to Bornnoysund. It wouldn't cost me more than two days at the most. Or, I could turn around and head back to that last island. If I had it then it would cost me about ten to twenty minutes. If I didn't then I could paddle back to Bronnoysund and only be two two hours behind schedule.

I estimated it would take me a total of ten hours to paddle from Bronnoysund to Husvaer. It was farther than I liked to go in a day, but I wanted to visit with the kayak hosts.

I turned around and returned to the last of Bronnoysund's islands. I slid my kayak into a bed of seaweed in a rock crevice. The most likely place for my phone was in the orange drybag in the hatch immediately behind my cockpit. I could get it without getting out and pulling the kayak onto the island, but if I did that and dropped anything important* I risked losing it.

I opened the bag. My phone and wallet were on top, so there was no need to take anything out searching for them. I returned the bag to its hatch and resumed paddling.

The wind was supposed to come from the south, but it seemed to be coming from the east, as though blowing out of the mainland's mountains. That was still favorable, but not as helpful as I liked.

From the north end of Ylvingen it got tricky. There were 6,000 tiny islands ahead of me, and I had to find Husvaer. It was at the far end. I had it marked on my chart, but my chart didn't have enough detail to show half the islands out there, and of those it did show many were nothing more than dots or plus symbols. This was going to be the first major navigational challenge of the trip, if not of my post military life. Fun!

I set my course and five miles due north I arrived at the first of the 6,000. It was populated by fuzzy chicks and their parents tweeting at me angrily from the air above. The small birds are black and white with bright orange beaks. After seagulls, I've seen these birds most often in Norway.  They're almost always in pairs and quick to use themselves as loud low flying bait to lead me away from their nest. This was the first time I'd seen the chicks.

Occasionally a parent bird would swoop low with a small shiny fish in it's mouth and feed one of the little folk, but most of the parents were busy swooping low and tweeting, "That island is boring, come check this out!"

I took some bearings with my pocket compass off of the mountain range known as Seven Sisters, Analshatten, and Donmannnen. The nearly flat archipelago was surrounded by steep snowy thousand meter peaks. Not only did that make the view breathtaking from every island, but it also made it possible for me to triangulate my position and confirm that I was on the island that I wanted to be on.

I paddled north for another eight miles. Gradually the islands accumulated on my right and then they were all around me. Around every corner was a new view of a new world. Some of the islands had sheep, some had red tinged pine trees, some had both.

I was aiming for the island of Skaalvaer because it was clearly marked on my map and probably recognizable in real life; if it had a name on the map it probably had a village.

The island I thought was Skalvaer had three houses. There was a channel marker of sorts which might have matched up to the one on my map, even though it seemed to be the wrong kind of channel marker. I turned around the north end of the island where I saw the right sort of channel marker next to an island with a village. I paddled to Skaalvaer.

I took a bearing to Husvaer off my chart and matched it up to a distant island with an especially high forested hill. I headed straight towards it, only there was an island in my way, then another, and another. I was a mouse in a maze. Did this pass go through? Probably not. I paddled farther in one direction, then another. Sometimes the space between islands was too shallow or full of seaweed. Other times in the low light I just couldn't tell if I was looking at a dead end or not. My glasses prescription being slightly off wasn't helping.

I found my way through, and after nine hours and forty five minutes of paddling, faster for the tail wind slower for the maze, I arrived at Husvaer. The kayak hosts who advertise on their site that they're there all year round, take August off to go on vacation. But a woman with a guest house next to her dock generously invited me to sleep in it and I slept like a log.

*Everything was important.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Norway Post 33

Day 30

Sunday morning I set out away from the fjords into one of Norway's most beautiful archipelagos and a world heritage sight. Some 6,000 low islands cluster together just north of Vega. Across that pristine expanse is the island of Husvaer where a kayaking couple live and host other paddlers. They advertise on their website that they're there and paddling all year round so come on by. The few other kayakers I've me on my journey told me that I have to visit, both because it's so beautiful and because I'm sure to meet other paddlers.

My first crossing was to the island Ylvingen. Leaving Bronnoysund I passed a number of small islands before getting out into the channel proper. About five minutes after I passed the last of those, with a substantial tailwind, I began to panic that I didn't pack my phone and wallet.

I wanted to just keep going. Worst case scenario I would arrive in Husvaer and figure out how to take public transportation back to Bornnoysund. It wouldn't cost me more than two days at the most. Or, I could turn around and head back to that last island. If I had it then it would cost me about ten to twenty minutes. If I didn't then I could paddle back to Bronnoysund and only be two two hours behind schedule.

I estimated it would take me a total of ten hours to paddle from Bronnoysund to Husvaer. It was farther than I liked to go in a day, but I wanted to visit with the kayak hosts.

I turned around and returned to the last of Bronnoysund's islands. I slid my kayak into a bed of seaweed in a rock crevice. The most likely place for my phone was in the orange drybag in the hatch immediately behind my cockpit. I could get it without getting out and pulling the kayak onto the island, but if I did that and dropped anything important* I risked losing it.

I opened the bag. My phone and wallet were on top, so there was no need to take anything out searching for them. I returned the bag to its hatch and resumed paddling.

The wind was supposed to come from the south, but it seemed to be coming from the east, as though blowing out of the mainland's mountains. That was still favorable, but not as helpful as I liked.

From the north end of Ylvingen it got tricky. There were 6,000 tiny islands ahead of me, and I had to find Husvaer. It was at the far end. I had it marked on my chart, but my chart didn't have enough detail to show half the islands out there, and of those it did show many were nothing more than dots or plus symbols. This was going to be the first major navigational challenge of the trip, if not of my post military life. Fun!

I set my course and five miles due north I arrived at the first of the 6,000. It was populated by fuzzy chicks and their parents tweeting at me angrily from the air above. The small birds are black and white with bright orange beaks. After seagulls, I've seen these birds most often in Norway.  They're almost always in pairs and quick to use themselves as loud low flying bait to lead me away from their nest. This was the first time I'd seen the chicks.

Occasionally a parent bird would swoop low with a small shiny fish in it's mouth and feed one of the little folk, but most of the parents were busy swooping low and tweeting, "That island is boring, come check this out!"

I took some bearings with my pocket compass off of the mountain range known as Seven Sisters, Analshatten, and Donmannnen. The nearly flat archipelago was surrounded by steep snowy thousand meter peaks. Not only did that make the view breathtaking from every island, but it also made it possible for me to triangulate my position and confirm that I was on the island that I wanted to be on.

I paddled north for another eight miles. Gradually the islands accumulated on my right and then they were all around me. Around every corner was a new view of a new world. Some of the islands had sheep, some had red tinged pine trees, some had both.

I was aiming for the island of Skaalvaer because it was clearly marked on my map and probably recognizable in real life; if it had a name on the map it probably had a village.

The island I thought was Skalvaer had three houses. There was a channel marker of sorts which might have matched up to the one on my map, even though it seemed to be the wrong kind of channel marker. I turned around the north end of the island where I saw the right sort of channel marker next to an island with a village. I paddled to Skaalvaer.

I took a bearing to Husvaer off my chart and matched it up to a distant island with an especially high forested hill. I headed straight towards it, only there was an island in my way, then another, and another. I was a mouse in a maze. Did this pass go through? Probably not. I paddled farther in one direction, then another. Sometimes the space between islands was too shallow or full of seaweed. Other times in the low light I just couldn't tell if I was looking at a dead end or not. My glasses prescription being slightly off wasn't helping.

I found my way through, and after nine hours and forty five minutes of paddling, faster for the tail wind slower for the maze, I arrived at Husvaer. The kayak hosts who advertise on their site that they're there all year round, take August off to go on vacation. But a woman with a guest house next to her dock generously invited me to sleep in it and I slept like a log.

*Everything was important.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Norway Post 32

Day 29

I got an early start and for the first time in what felt like ages had a tailwind the whole day. After crossing Roingenfjorden I found a camping sight between Kvaloy and Kjosvikfj where I took a short break. There I found an internet connection that told me it would thunderstorm in the early afternoon and that Bronnoysund would be a great place to stop for the Sabbath.

While it rained, and poured the lightning never came and with the tailwind I made great progress through the myriad of little islands to the slightly larger island of Bronnysund. The third marina I paddled into was the official guest marina and there I found a shower, laundry machine, internet connection, kitchen, and clean floor to sleep on.

In the channel through the center of the city a mother and baby otter played happily. It didn't bother them that it was pouring and with a hot shower at the end of a great tail wind, I didn't mind either.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Norway Post 31

Day 28

The sun shone down on my face and the world was bright and beautiful. The sea was glassy calm and the headwind didn't begin until early afternoon.

After the previous day's torrential rains, brown streams gushed over the rocks and waterfalls poured into the sea at every crevice. The rocks up above, slick with water, reflected the sunshine like beacons of happiness.

A young Norwegian lady waved to me from her spot down by the sea almost as if she too were a reflection of the sun on the rocks.

At the top of Aarsetfjorden I paddled into the mild current of a narrow stream for a winding 100 meters before emerging near a neat dock on the other side. The wide low new dock was surrounded by identical fishing motor boats that said to me, "Uh oh, Germans."

Across was a small older wooden dock beneath a boathouse. A single boat rocked against its rope. The nearest house was at the top of a wide field. I decided not to hold these Germans accountable for the sins of others, it is a skill we Jews have worked hard at.

The first German was a friendly six foot tall red headed lady who was, sadly, married. She didn't think her husband would want me using the shower in their rental cottage, but she did direct me to the owner of the cottages.

No, I couldn't sleep in his boat house since he had guests. If he didn't have guests he would have let me. No, I couldn't even sleep on the grassy field next to the cottages. No he didn't know where I could find a shower. I could rent an apartment for 700 kroner a night.

I got back in my boat and paddled for another hour. I found a side fjord with a view of snow capped peaks, wooded islands, and a rushing incoming stream. I parked at a dock near the stream and pulled my boat up. A silver motor boat with a big flat floor sat besides the dock. Fishing gear was neat and organized and the boat did not smell of fish guts as I expected.

Beyond the dock a path wound through a heavily overgrown lawn to a road.  Small houses spread out across the grassy base of the mountain.  Roads lined with trees weaved between them.

I climbed through the grass to the nearest house and rang the bell. A different door than the one I stood at opened and an older man stick his head out.

"Hi," I called. "Do you speak English?"

"No." He told me.

"Water?" I held up my water bag.

"Okay." He said. He closed his door and went inside. I walked over to that door to wait with my water bag. I assumed he'd gone to get me a bottle or something. He opened the first door I had been waiting at ready to take my water bag. I walked back and handed it to him.

We talked a little about my trip in English. He wished me luck without inviting me in for a shower. I slept on the floor of the big silver motor boat.

For the first time on this trip, the mosquitoes were out and in force. I sprayed a little repellent on my cheeks and some more around the mouth of my bivi sack even though the instructions say "Do not spray on clothing/" Hopefully it won't ruin the Gor-tex.



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Norway Post 30


Day 27

Excitement coursed through me. The forecast called for the wind to change from the north to the southeast. 

 I headed east into Sor - Salten and a brutal headwind. The fjord was part of a passage that would take me a little bit out of my way, but should be pretty.

Tight knit islands clustered the mouth of the fjord and made me feel like I paddled down a narrow river.  I passed under a bridge and felt a mild current with me.

Later, when I crossed over the bridge in a car, I saw an enormous current. I must have gone through at slack.

The wind beat into me all day on the narrow fjord. Since the forecast said the wind would come from the southeast, I tried the south side of the fjord, but it was really windy there. For a while it seemed like the curve of the fjord would shelter me a little from the wind on the north side, but it was really windy there too. In five hours I had paddled about seven and a half miles, about half my regular speed, but I wanted to move on to the day's next leg.

Sor-Salten was connected by a 50 foot canal to Nord-Salten, which was a fjord that would take me north. The canal, about 15 feet wide, channeled a phenomenal quantity of water.

I must have made seven or eight attempts to paddle up that channel. I began by sprinting up the eddy so as to hit the current running, but as soon as I did it shot me out like a cannon over it's bubbling churning outlet. I tried without the eddy but couldn't even get close.


video


While I rested from my herculean efforts a speed boat pulled up, roared its engines to maximum, and pushed through the canal. They waved to me as they pulled past with something like five times the speed that I can get at my fastest sprint in my narrowest kayak.

Concrete stairs rose up from the water at the edge of the canal's mouth. I could wait for the current to change which would probably be soon since it looked like the fjord was at high tide, or just portage along the walkway besides the canal.

What ever I decided, I'd go up the stairs and have a look around. I tied a rope to my kayak and threw the other end onto the stairs so that if the eddy pulled my kayak away once I was out I would have something to grab onto, and then climbed onto the stairs.

I failed to pull my kayak up the stairs. It was too heavy. Two scrawny blondes walked the path besides the canal. I asked them if they could bring me someone strong, and they were happy to go get their boyfriends. Compared to at least one of them, I was the scrawny.

The real men helped me get my kayak up the stairs without any trouble and we even carried it past the canal. They invited me to join them for their BBQ, and while it was entirely traif I was willing to cut my day short for the happy company. While we cooked and ate and chatted at the campsite the current calmed for a moment and then changed directions.

At seven thirty they got back in their speed boat and headed home. After a touch of indecision I got into my kayak and began my way up the fjord. I had a strong wind at my back and the current was spectacular. I paddled the full five mile length of the fjord in under an hour. Where things got narrow, on account of a bridge or a particular rock formation, the water fell downhill fast sucking me into whirlpools and pulling at me on the way out. I flew.

At the end of Nord - Salten behind a bunch of small island in the already narrow fjord I found a marina. A sign said "Call this number to shower ..." I found someone with a phone to call the number for me. I punched the code into the lock and got to shower.

That night I slept under the shower building's awning until the rain got too vertical. At three in the morning I moved into the shower room which was warm, clean, and dry.

The next morning the rain continued and the wind shook the trees. The second floor of the shower building was a kitchen living room type space with a light on that could be seen through the windows. The lock required a different code than the bathroom.

I asked some folk getting out of a motor boat at the marina. They didn't have the code, so they asked some older folk who they found walking by. The older folk asked their neighbors who had the code, for the boating clubhouse, and I got in to spend the rest of the that cold windy wet day in warmth and comfort.

The old folk also invited me to go into town with them and we went shopping and got coffee together. I don't drink coffee but I sat with them while they drank theirs. They offered to get me cake but I was still feeling a little sick from the cookies I gobbled down in the clubhouse. There was nothing wrong with them, except for the quantity. I love Norway. I love life.




Monday, August 3, 2015

Norway Post 29

Day 26

After a solid night's sleep in the living room shelter I continued up the fjord into a headwind.

I crossed Folla, the mouth of a large fjord, at an angle. The distance was about four nautical miles, and into a headwind and it took me about an hour and a half. The kayakers from Namsos warned me that sometimes Fola was rough, with funky currents and strong winds from strange places that made kayaking unsafe. It wasn't, there was just the steady ever growing headwind.

I arrived at the peninsula I was aiming for and cut under a bridge not much wider than my paddles beneath a small village spread over a few low island hills. From there I left the mainland and cut into an archipelago of tiny islands. Many had white sandy beaches between rocky shores and grassy wildflower crests. The grass and the wildflowers bowed south and waved to me with the wind.

To the west I saw the windmill silhouette of another kayaker. It was out of my way, but I was lonely. I blew my whistle. The paddler didn't hear me, so I changed to a pursuit course. As I got closer other kayakers came into view and I eventually met the group of five on a sandy beach with most of them taking a snack break on the island.

It was a Norwegian single women's kayaking group heading in the same direction I was for the next few weeks. They were happy to have me along even though I didn't meet all of the qualifications since we were going the same ways.

Wait, no, that's not it. It was a mixed group from Trondheim on holiday. Their cars were parked nearby and they were driving around to exciting day paddle spots. We chatted for a while and then I set back out into the headwind.

The water between a couple of the islands was too shallow, I didn't want to gorilla scoot over the white sandy bottom and seaweed on account of the water being cold so I hip thrust my way through. The bottom of the plastic kayak had so many scratches in it that a light sanding might do it some good anyways.

Despite all of my internal whining about a second day of wind, I transitioned from the tiny island archipelago into Rorvik's fjord without even realizing it. Rorvik is a town with a guest marina and all the associated amenities. It was very likely I would find a hot shower there. Besides me, however a small fishing dock with a hose and boathouse offered nominal shelter. I was exhausted and Rorvik was still a mile or two away.

I parked and looked around. The small boathouse was unlocked, full of fishing gear, and reeked of fish. I weighed a cold shower against another mile into the wind and a likely hot shower.

Back in my boat I turned turned around the corner of one last island, through intense multi directional currents, and beheld across the channel Rorvik. It spread along the coast in a way that refused to reveal the location of its guest marina so I asked a man fishing with four small children in his tiny fishing boat.

He directed me to the marina and also told me that if I wanted an amazing sea gull sighting all I had to do was go around the island just to my north. Seagull crap stuck to my deck and I wondered what an amazing sea gull sighting looked like.

I never found out since I cut straight across the channel towards the marina. Strong currents whirl pooling and eddying about rushed me one way than another in the wide channel. I was totally unable to make rhyme or reason of them, but had a fun time with the jostle.

In the marina I found a hot shower, an invitation to spend the night on a couch, and the friendly sailors from Kristiansund! It was the first time I'd ever met the same friendly sailors twice and I was as happy to hear how their family adventures had been since we last met as they were to hear about mine.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Norway Post 28

Day 25

With my expertly repaired skeg I turned Namsos’s corner and headed north through a narrow fjord into an archipelagic inland sea. The headwind was chilly and brutal. The current dropped my speed to glacial.

At the end of the even narrower outlet fjord,, a kayaking couple, friends of those I had stayed with last night, waited for me.

I passed a marina. I could stop, but it wasn’t that much farther to hospitality. I pushed on, one inch at a time. With every stroke I wondered just how much easier it would be to go back to that marina. I kept turning around to measure how little I had accomplished since the last time I checked five seconds earlier.

By the time I turned my boat around I had a kilometer to paddle back, and from the middle of the channel with waves wind and current at my stern I flew.


While the small single docked marina did not have a shower, I found and appropriated a hose. A small wooden club house with three walls sheltering cushioned outdoor furniture sat at the head of the dock. There was even a curtain to pull across the opening.