Sailing to Lofoten
First departures: July 15 2018
Vessel: Swan 44 cadeau
Price: 200 euros per day all inclusive (alcohol not included, you’ll discover why…)
Passengers: max 3
Sailing in Norway
Norway is commonly famous for endless salmon, endless oil, endless fjords, endless rain and spectacularly large wine bills. After two long cruises in the southern end of the country, all these common points of view must be, alas, confirmed.
While inside the fjords yes, you’ll have the impression that rain can be indeed endless. But rain tends to love mountains so the infinite stretch of islands bordering the coast of Norway are often sunny and sometimes balmy. That’s the beauty of this coast, the variety of flat island with small fishing ports, an outer passage providing shelter from the Atlantic swell, coastal inlets with welcoming locals, and postcard villages where life, when present, has its center in the public dock where everyone is welcome. Many Norwegian villages are like islands and can only be reached by boat, by the famous postal ferry or similar services. The public dock is the link to the world, and every available service of the village or the island will be centered around it. Alas, sometimes the service is restricted to the shop, but at least one will not die of hunger or cold.
Basically all islands and coastal villages are linked by the main navigation channels, that looks very much like the Alaska Inside Passage. So most of the navigation is sheltered and between villages. It takes some effort or some serious isolation tendencies to anchor our somewhere, because even the livelier spots can be considered a desert compared to any Mediterranean port.
Also fjords are endless and this is less of a blessing. Like every foreign yacht, we decided to give a try to the Longefjord, the longest inlet of the planet. It also boasts several arms which are ‘long’ in their own way, as it usually takes at least 3 hours to reach the end. So, basically, to visit a fjord eats up most of a holiday, at last a week if one wants to also have a walk somewhere. And do not expect a lot of company! The place is so big that eats up anything smaller than a cruise ship. So… is it worth it? Well, if 4 days of motoring under the rain takes you to a place like Mundal in Fjaerland, the answer is yes. It’s the perfect Norwegian village, lost between ice and water, with an ancient hotel, a perfect dock and a unique bookshop. Basically every one of the 23 houses of the village are a bookshop, each specialized in something different. It was really hard to leave Mundal!
Salmon farms are everywhere but thank God for that, at least one can find something reasonably palatable in every small shop. And small shops are what one is likely to find all along the way. Unless moored along the dock in downtown Bergen, where the ‘endless’ flow of tourists from cruise ships put the price of mussels at 27 euros a kilo, shopping for sailors means locating a small shop (legally must be <100 square meters to be open on sundays) in one of the many tiny coastal villages. Do not ask for fresh salmon of course… You’ll be answered ‘go fish it’. But you’ll find ‘endless’ varieties of it, mostly frozen. Together with the local basics which are frozen crabs, frozen pork ribs, frozen hamburgers and tortillas. Thant means that to eat well in Norway requires a lot of fantasy and eccentricity. Mussel farms are mushrooming and this is a bless because the mussels are excellent and, apart from the tourist fish market, sell for 7 euros a kilo. These small shops are a real blessing because they are all located at the dock (which is usually free), and they double up as pub, post office, pharmacy, infopoint and, last but not least, harbormaster.