Monday, July 4
With a fond farewell to Elisabeth and Gunnar and a photo he took from their deck over the weekend (JUANONA’s in the third slip from the end on the middle pontoon with the blue mainsail cover)
we left Os with a wee bit of rain (nothing our Norwegian rain hats couldn’t handle)
for an anchorage at a nearby island, a favorite of many cruisers, Norwegian and foreign alike. This would be our first anchorage in Norway this summer, actually our first anchorage in 2016. Unlike last year’s cruising when dropping the hook far outnumbered mooring at a town quay or in a marina, the majority of this spring and summer involved fenders and dock lines vs. anchor chain.
For me, there’s always a wee bit of anxiety attached to the first anchoring of a season. Thankfully, though, it is a bit like riding a bike: the procedure does come back handily once I stare at all the bits and pieces, mentally reviewing the steps.
And, all went well when three hours later we entered and plopped the anchor down in an idyllic cove at Lysoen. A small motorboat hanging off a buoy left soon after we arrived leaving us the sole occupant in this mini-paradise.
This island, though, offers more than a lovely spot for sitting at anchor. It also happens to be the former summer home of violinist Ole Bull (1810-1880). He along with Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)–whom Bull encouraged to attend the Leipzig Conservatory at age 15–are considered two of Norways most famous composers.
With a footpath leading from the water’s edge we easily found our way to Bull’s summer home, one he constructed in 1872 and named his ‘Little Alhambra’ with its own moorish tower.
There’s some discussion regarding Bull’s musical technique but there’s no question regarding this artist’s talent (he played solos with the Bergen Harmonic Society at age 9) and the love he felt for his country and its folk music. Touring extensively throughout Europe and the United States he entertained thousands. In one season (1836-37) he played 274 concerts in England and Iceland!
In addition to his music Bull experimented with establishing a Norwegian settlement, called Oleana, in Pennsylvania where he had purchased over 11,000 acres in 1852; the settlement didn’t last mostly due to his lack of business acumen.
However, he did end up spending many of his last winters in the States after marrying for a second time an American, Sara Chapman Torp (1815-1911), in 1868. She was devoted to him and was with him when he died at Lysoen, where they would return each summer.
Interestingly, I also discovered they had ties to Maine. They spent the summer of 1871 in West Lebanon, Maine, and it’s where their only child together, a daughter Olea Bull (1871-1911), was born and his grandaughter, Sylvia Bull Curtis (1907-1988) lived. Furthermore, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a friend and used Bull as the fictional narrator in Longfellow’s “The Saga of King Olaf” written in 1863.
The young tour guide did an excellent job conveying pertinent details about Bull as we walked through the several rooms open for display:
the main living area, where they still hold concerts,
and his small bedroom with a view to the mainland.
We easily could have spent more time peering at photographs and the artifacts Bull had collected over the years, but the guide ushered us through quite quickly and before we knew it we were being led to the exit; however, we did stop in the gift shop where another young guide, who also knew an amazing amount of information about Bull, graciously answered questions as we poked about.
Leaving the house we picked one of the many paths ribboning this small island returning for our fourth of July, celebratory meal: ribs and a bottle of red wine :) All at this gorgeous anchorage.
Tuesday, July 5
A beautiful, still morning and lilting birdsong greeted us as we rose causing us to ponder: to go or not to go?
To give you and idea of how perfect it was sitting at anchor, below is one photo, rightside up and upside down:
(The top one is the upside-down version :)
But, as tempting as it was, there were other places we wanted to explore. We turned on the thank-god-we-have-one windlass (a motor in the anchor locker), which began winching up the chain attached to our oversized, 55 lb Rocna anchor and where we found a surprise gift at the end.
We recognized it as one the little fishing nets used by children catching sea critters, such as crabs. Deciding it would be a nice gift for some little tyke, we hauled it out of the water and stowed it for a future give-away.
Our next island was Sotra where we planned to dock at Kleppavika in order to visit a museum we had read about in our guidebook.
For anyone who doesn’t know the history of the Shetland islands and Norway during WW II, I highly recommend the book THE SHETLAND BUS by David Howarth. Thanks to the recommendation of fellow cruisers Max and I read this book last summer, and both of us were amazed at what occurred along this coastline during those years.
The author, who oversaw the British side of the operations, tells of the heroic feats performed by many Norwegian fishermen in ferrying refuges out and resistance fighters in to Norway… during the fall/winter (!)/spring. With the Germans, including the SS, occupying the cities and towns, you can imagine how careful one had to be when trying to sabotage the enemies’ positions. And, the horrific consequences if caught.
Televag, a town on Sotra, did pay the price for a foiled resistance plot.
Briefly, Lauritz Telle, a 63-year-old fisherman, and his son Lars participated in the Shetland Bus operations beginning in 1940, just after Norway was invaded by the Germans. All worked well until April 26, 1942, when the Germans led by two officers arrived at the Telle’s home. They’d been alerted by an undercover agent for the Gestapo that the Telle residence was a safe house for people planning to escape/infiltrate the German occupation.
What the officers found were two secret agents, recently arrived, asleep upstairs.
A fire fight ensued with one of the agents and two of the Nazi officers being killed.
In retribution the Gestapo took Lauritz, his wife Marat and their 13-year-old son to Bergen. There they were interrogated and tortured. Lars and 18 other men thought to be involved with the clandestine activity were taken to a camp in Oslo. All other men from Televag between the ages of 16 and 60 were marched down to a ship for eventual transportation to Sachenhausen, a concentration camp outside of Berlin.
A prisoner’s camp outside of Bergen is where the remaining women and children were sent. (Of the 60-70 men transported to the concentration camp, approximately 50% died along with another 18 randomly executed at another camp.)
Then, Televag was destroyed. Completely. Similar to the burning of the town in France, Oradour-sur-Glane, which we visited with my sister Betsy in December 2014. Being so near to a connection with the history that had awed us when reading Howarth’s book, we felt we should see this village.
Arriving just an hour from Lysoen we found a spot along one of the quays in the small harbor then began looking for a way to reach the other side of the island where Televag’s North Sea Maritime Museum was located.
With no wifi and no one about to tell us of any public transportation we began walking to the main road where we hoped to either spot a bus stop or hitch a ride. We found one bus stop but no posted schedule.
Realizing we could be waiting for hours and knowing it was about seven miles, we started walking. Our strategy was to hop from one bus stop to the next with one person always standing at a stop while the other one caught up, giving us two opportunities to hail a passing bus while making our way on foot.
And, we lucked out by catching a bus, and then some: after telling us we needed to change buses to reach our final destination, the bus driver then said she was going off duty and would be happy to drive us to the museum since it’d be another two hours between buses!
Her name was Hildegunn Telle, and she was delightful. Once again we mentally shook our heads at the kindness shown to us, two strangers, by these warm Norwegian folk. Makes one believe the world can be okay if only we practiced such acts of acceptance. If only.
On the drive over Hildegunn told us her Grandfather had been sent to Sachenhausen and her father had been interned In Bergen. Other family members were also affected.
The museum was small but offered a detailed account of the event and the effect on the islanders. In addition to the Televag tragedy, the North Sea Maritime Museum also featured others who were part of the Shetland Bus resistance movement, such as Leif Larson. And, there was a room for anyone interested in researching this part of Norway’s history.
Later we also heard from the young museum receptionist that his grandfather had been executed by the Nazis. Stark memories and family history so immediate to this small island village.
As we stood outside the museum and looked out over the town of Televag (the Telle’s house was located on the other side of the harbor)
and later walked to sites where homes once existed, it was difficult to imagine the horror and sorrow that occurred in such a beautiful spot. And, in the event one forgot, a memorial listed the names of those men who were murdered . We noticed quite a few “Telles” who must have been related to Hildegunn. Another sobering jolt.
Timing our visit with the return bus schedule we headed back to JUANONA and an early night contemplating the courage of those who stood up to noxious bullies.
Wednesday, July 6
From horror to whimsical we continued our sail south, this time to an island noted for a different type of visitor… aliens.
We had a wonderful sail under bright sun, then threaded our way into a small harbor we found one of the few places to moor. With the wind behind us, the docking was a bit tricky; but, with the help of the other boat on the quay, we quickly tied up and hopped off to search for the UFO site.
Thirty minutes later we found ourselves in the opening where SUPPOSEDLY an alien spacecraft landed, marking a circle that EVIDENTLY never goes away.
Of course, a rumor has it that school children are marched out there during the spring and help keep the grass down.
As much as I believe in ETs, I think human feet tracing the circle is a wee bit more believable than aliens landing.
And, I think others feel the same way, especially when seeing some of the other sights here…
On a much more sobering note, we saw yet another reminder of the sacrifice these islanders made during WW II we we walked back to JUANONA.
Thursday, July 7
Sailing back through the Karmsundet (the “North Way” channel for which Norway is named) and our next, and last, Norwegian anchorage. And, yes, I love it :)
Max tried his hand at fishing (but with no luck),
so it was another boat meal (usually means part, if not all, comes from cans and dried goods… and, they’re pretty good. I just don’t look at the meat , if we’re adding it, when it comes out of the can…)
Friday, July 8
Another sunny morning, which meant I could partake of another one of my favorite activities: lounging in a quiet anchorage with a book and java :)
But, we wanted to get to Stavanger where we had arranged to meet up with Paul, our Maine friend whom we met serendipitously when first heading north two weeks earlier.
As we were hauling up the anchor a small skiff came by, and we started talking. We discovered he had befriended some American sailors a few summers ago who had also anchored here. Come to find out it was Ernest Godshalk whom we knew through sailing circles.
Dag, who had his summer cabin nearby and had been checking his crab pots, invited us up for coffee. We so would have loved to have joined him but had to leave. However, we said we’d most likely be back next summer and hoped to see him then. Yet, another reason to return to this marvelous country.
Before we reached Stavanger where Paul lived we stopped to visit another site, Utstein Kloster, a medieval abbey sited on a former royal residence of King Hakaon Harfagre (the Fairhair guy). (He was the one who united Norway after the Battle of Harsfjord in 872.)
We pulled into a harbor where we’d read we could dock in front of a hotel. After a bit of scratching our heads pondering exactly where we could dock (the place was completely empty of boats and people), we took our chances, tied up and then found someone who said we could stay there as the hotel was closed for the season.
Then, we began the one-mile walk to the abbey where it was primarily just us and the sheep. We also saw that sheep rule the road as one visitor slowed to a crawl behind an unperturbed sheep.
Coming up over a slight rise we saw the abbey, and it was as if we’d stepped back in time. Sitting in pastoral splendor, it looked out over green hills and the water.
The monks were of the Augustinian Order and most likely came from Britain and Denmark. Since the exact date of when Utstein Kloster became an abbey is unknown, historians think it may have been when another abbey, Halsnoy, was founded in the mid-12th century. Whatever the date, the place is beautiful.
Again, we were only one of five or so folk wandering around, which allowed us to absorb the peacefulness as we gazed at our surroundings. I wish I could express how taken I was with this site. I don’t know if it was the solitude in which we toured or just the loveliness of the buildings and setting, but imagine finding oneself at peace with the world and this is it.
Entering the church via the tower (which was centrally located), we looked to the east towards the Nave
and then west towards the Chancel.
A 17th-century, elaborately painted pulpit stood off to one side,
and from there we walked through the chapter house, the medieval kitchen and the two eating halls, one for monks and the other for the servants.
Of course there were holes in the ancient stone walls that required an inspection…
and then a more complete one.
They believe only 12 monks and 14 or so staff actually resided here, yet it was a very profitable estate. The monks made medicinal herbs as well as ink and colors for their manuscripts. The lay brethren handled the food crops (fruit and vegetables) along with hemp and flax. And, there must have been sheep from the looks of how they tend to roam the lands now.
The richness and subsequent power of the abbey created a rivalry between the abbot of Utstein and the Bishop of Stavanger (nearby town/city). This resulted in the abbot being seized and imprisoned by the Bishop’s soldiers while the abbey was robbed in 1515. Almost 50 years later the abbey was robbed again by “the Pirate”, Christoffer Tronsson Rustung.
Until 1700 Danish kings used the estate to reward various noblemen who rarely visited it. The abbey came back to life when Johan Frimann from Bergen purchased it, and his grandson, Christopher Garmann (1720-1779), modernized the building, converting the 2nd floor into elegant living quarters, which we also toured.
Eventually, the family had to sell land to maintain the property until the Depression after WWI when they sold the abbey buildings and the park within the abbey walls. However, a female descendent now owns one of the largest farms in SW Norway; and, we, as tourists, can walk where monks oh so long ago trod. Pretty neat, eh? Another reason to explore this part of Norway.
A look around the exterior to show the scale of these walls, my serving as the pencil,
we walked back to JUANONA for the sail down to Stavanger. But, not without an inner sigh of leaving such a peaceful oasis. A peace of heaven.