Cruising Norway: Mainland via outer islands to Lofoten Islands (Alesund to Reine)

to Lovund

Tuesday, June 23

Leaving Alesund the sky became gray and misty but still absolutely camera-worthy.

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Facing light northerlies (which meant they’d be right on our nose), we passed fishing boats, Coast Guard patrol, ferries, and cruise ships who were also sailing through the inside passage heading north.

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As promised, we saw evidence of Midsummer night’s bonfires, and that midnight sun converted overnights to over-day passages.

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The next day was also a day of blue glass with just teasing ripples ruffling the surface, so, more motoring…

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while JUANONA quickly took on her passage look.

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There are a lot of rainbows around here, and we passed one on this passage.

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The island of Lovund appeared out of the mist or mizzle as the Brits say.

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We anchored in their outer harbor and prepped for dinghying ashore with Chris modeling our compliance with Norway’s boating safety.

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Rowing to the community dock (for some reason Max likes to keep our electric motor unused) we scouted out showers, groceries, wifi, the puffins’ cliff (which we didn’t visit because of time and we’d seen them in the Farne Islands… remember the head wounds? :), and laundry. The showers and laundry were available via the honor payment system so we paid for and enjoyed three hot showers and decided to do laundry the next day.

That night we pulled out our first Oh Hell game of our 2015 cruise, and I promptly lost both games. Nothing unusual for me.

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Friday morning we again rowed ashore. I say ‘we’ but it’s really Max and Chris doing all the work while I stand like a big bow sprit. Laundry was unloaded and, after fiddling with the washing machine knobs all in Norwegian, we finally got the water to run into the machine and hopefully mix with the soap.

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Taking turns, we each visited the lovely hotel where the staff said absolutely no problem using their wifi. Max and I stopped at the grocery store, which seemed really substantial for such a small village, where he purchased a sandwich and immediately attracted an unwelcome following.

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to Sanna

Friday, June 26

With winds favorable we decided to leave for another group of islands, the Traena Archipelago.  Only ten or so miles from Lovund was Sanna, an island that Chris said hosted a music festival in early July. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t be able to attend it, but we could anchor in a stunning cove then hike a bit around the island.

It was the typical warm-weather sailing here in Norway,

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which means we always look forward to reaching our next anchorage and heat below.

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In addition to the music festival, this island had some hikes, which took us up our cove (Lovund Island is center-left in the background),

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through spongy paths (honestly, it felt like walking on a pillow with all the moss and vegetation covering the stones)

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where ebony slugs greased the paths (Chris provided the perspective here).

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We wanted to see two special features of this island: Kirkhellaen, the church cave, which served as the music festival’s natural amphitheater and the tunnel that runs through one of the peaks.

The cave was our first stop and it was HUGE.

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A sign provided some history beginning with bone and stone age residents.

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And, the sound was magnificent, so, of course, we had to test it out…

as well as take some background shots that conveyed our privilege of experiencing this landscape.

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From there we continued around to the north side of the island and the hike up to the ridge where the tunnel was. I started it but my fear of heights quickly took over, and I watched as Max and Chris finished the climb…

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And, later I saw the photo ops from the top, such as our anchorage…

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the little fishing town of Sanna…

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the fish farms located on the next island over…

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and the spectacular view looking back east from whence we came.

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Chris did walk through the tunnel, which was totally black. Max ventured in about 25 feet, then backtracked to meet up with me at the bottom.

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Speaking with some Norwegians heading up the same trail, I discovered I could have reached the top by taking the tunnel from the other side. Goes to show how much trail maps would help :)

But, it was so nice just sitting on a rock and not doing anything but soaking up the views and sounds. At one point I saw a sea eagle soaring to altitude. This island was known for these majestic birds. The first and last time I had seen them was at the International Center of Birds of Prey in England (they’re the ones Max tried to mimic), so to see one in its natural habitat was awe-full.

Dinghying (i.e., rowing) back to JUANONA we took the obligatory beauty shots of boat in scenic cove, then prepped for our 20-hour passage to Reine in the Lofottens.

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to Reine

Saturday, June 27

As we exited our previous night’s anchorage we wanted to test our fishing acumen. Friends, including Kjetil, informed us that it was dead easy, almost with fish jumping into your boat. So, in Amble we had purchased a fishing line complete with wormy hooks and a weight. All we had to do was float over a rise in the seabed and toss out our line.

Chris did the honors and within 30 seconds caught a fish.

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All of us were a bit stunned, but when he plopped the lin back in again, bam! And, pulled up…

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four more!

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The first and last time we actually caught fish aboard JUANONA was on our 2003 passage to the Caribbean from the Canaries. Thanks to our crew member, Steve Keener, we savored fresh MahiMahi several times and, boy, was that delicious. We were definitely anticipating another tasty dinner.

But, we weren’t the only ones looking forward to some fresh fish. As soon as Chris began filleting them,

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we had uninvited company starting with one…

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growing to a small crowd…

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then a patient armada,

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and ending with at least 50, the lucky ones grabbing the discarded heads and tails as Chris tossed them overboard.

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The Lofotens represent the most northern cruising Max and I would do aboard JUANONA this summer. Max, who had sailed to Labrador aboard Fin Perry’s boat in 2013, alerted us to our crossing the Arctic Circle on this passage, so we kept a lookout on the GPS as we neared and then passed over that navigation point.

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Knowing we were going to do so, Max and I had bought some typical Norwegian ‘oilies’ when we were on the Hurtigruten a week ago as keepsakes of this special occasion.

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Then Max announced he had some special mementos in honor of King Neptune to document Chris’ and my Arctic Circle crossing,

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and he proceeded to dude us up with gloves and ear muffs to keep us warm, and a lei to fondly remember the warm climes we had voluntarily left far behind.

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As the hours flowed into the bright night, we licked our lips over moistly baked fish (we don’t know what kind except they were great tasting) compliments of Chef Chris.

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Sunday, June 28

After another easy passage, and a short one, we passed islands with their changing light

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and motored-sailed into our first stop in the Lofotens,

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Reine. Another adventure in the offing :)

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6 thoughts on “Cruising Norway: Mainland via outer islands to Lofoten Islands (Alesund to Reine)

  1. Libby-loo

    Wow! The Arctic Circle! That’s impressive. I hope you’re able to sleep.
    I missed seeing you on our trip out east. It was great seeing “Little Sarah”, who has now spent the last two weeks in Israel for a wedding.

    1. margaretlynnie

      I was so glad to see your FB post. Must have been so much fun to be together! I missed being there, too. Love your FB posting. I think of our time in Woodland Park, and just told Max recently about the first time I saw a pressure cooker being used-yours making onion soup in your log cabin with me and the three pups :) xox

  2. Idaho Cowgirl

    Great photos! Love that northern land. And fresh fish – yum! The Arctic is a special experience. Love and Cheers to you all!

    1. margaretlynnie

      And, I just told someone about your ‘love’ of salmon thanks to your stint in grimwood… fortunately, where JUANONA is now, although we’re under the packing of stacks of dried cod, the breeze blows the aroma elsewhere :) xox

  3. Rebecca Hillman

    amazing! Amazing amazing!…from facing foreign symbols..on mind blowing and dramatic primitive cave dwellings …to sharing.. if only for a while.. the home of a majestic sea eagle.
    Thank you for sharing this inspiring journey! So glad you are all together!

    keep on rowing
    and writing !..oh ..and last but not least..
    modeling those awesome outfits!..xor

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