Friday, June 2
A weather forecast of gray skies and drizzle offers an opportune time to visit towns, which is where we landed during the next three days. Our first, being Risor…
Entering Risor’s harbor, a grand row of white, two-story buildings greets the eye, which explains the town’s moniker: the “White Town of Skagerrak”. Skagerrak, by the way, is the name of the body of water in which we’ve been sailing since rounding Norway’s southern-most point, Lindesnes. At Lindesnes, we left the North Sea behind and began plying the waters of eastern Norway.
We perused possible docking sites and settled on one in Innsiden (“the inside”) neighborhood just east of the Solsiden (“the sunny side”) where the wealthy shipowners had resided in those impressive homes mentioned above. An easy tie-up and, even better, no charge since still not the summer season.
A walk around town presented a bakery offering free wifi along with inexpensive coffees and bakery items. Fortified and wifi-ed we headed for the Den Hellige Ands Kirke, a 1647 church.
We couldn’t enter but did walk around the grounds, discovering a separate building used as the toilet area for church-goers. Never seen that before. Makes me wonder about all the other old churches we’ve toured. Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing any toilets in there either.
I think selling white paint is a no-brainer business around Norway.
We finished our exploring by strolling the streets behind our dock. Once again lilacs offered their lilting fragrance
accompanied by plump wisteria languidly hanging from trellises
and bridal-white blossoms cascaded down rock gardens.
Love being amidst flora such as this, a nice change from green seaweed.
Back aboard Max peered out the porthole and noticed a fleet of boats heading out to race, some with spinnakers.
An hour later, a knock on our hull introduced us to one of the racers. An expat (and ex-oil employee) saw our American flag and stopped by. An engineer by trade, he now pursues his dream of working on wooden boats. And Risor suits his interest splendidly as the town is known for its annual Wooden Boat Festival held in August.
We invited him to come below, but his mates were waiting for him at the local pub. We would have joined him if our dinner hadn’t been ready; and, by the time we finished, it was too late. But, we were tempted despite the astronomical price of a beer in this country!
Saturday-Sunday, June 3-4
Another day of winds stronger than forecast, which seems to be the norm around here. Tacking our way under skies promising rain we pulled in just as the first drops started falling. We docked in front of a lone sailboat with a friendly guy helping us with our lines. Always a pleasure to see smiling faces and someone catching lines ashore.
The library becomes an alternative to TI’s, and in Kragero we hit a goldmine. The librarians couldn’t have been more helpful, using their personal cell phones to get access codes for the library’s free wifi, then providing us with some tourist brochures (in English).
A packed grocery store provided us with our few necessities for upcoming meals, and at another food market Max stood beside a nickname one of his long time friends calls him.
As we began walking back to JUANONA we marveled at the number of folk and the increasing number of boats (a 50/50 mix of power and sail) now at the gjestehavn. This only reinforced my thinking we wouldn’t want to be in Kragero when summer season really had begun…
Once back at the gjestehavn we asked the two friendly sailors behind us, Jacob and Bjorn, for drinks. But, they had decided to leave for another harbor. They’d been waiting a week in Kragero for a new starter engine, and it had just arrived and was installed.
We were truly sorry to see them leave as it would have been wonderful to have heard more about their adventures. Both had been involved in the oil industry, although Jacob, born in Norway, had lived in Rotterdam until he was 24. There he worked as a tugboat captain. Bjorn had sailed on an early-1900s wooden vessel up to the Faroe Islands and over to East Greenland and Newfoundland as a seal hunter. The tales we could have heard!
Like all cruisers do we exchanged notes of good anchorages and interesting ports of call. When we mentioned about basing ourselves 20 miles or so south of Oslo then using public transportation to tour the city, they both said just sail there – you HAVE to visit Oslo by water! So, within ten minutes our plans changed. I think there’s something to the phrase ‘blowing in the wind’ when it comes to our itinerary this summer.
As they untied their lines we said our good-byes
and then watched as they motored away with a purring engine. As we waved Jacob turned around and with widespread arm shouted ‘FREEDOM!’ with a huge smile. He felt the call of the sea and was answering it :)
One of the interesting features of Kragero is that it served as Edvard Munch’s home for six years. He arrived in 1909 after his stay at a nerve clinic in Salzburg. One of the pamphlets from the friendly librarians described an art walk.
Twelve locations with mounted poster boards display scenes painted by Munch, some with photographs such as the one below of his creating art among a large group of neighborhood kids.
Between rain showers we walked up and down the hills searching for them.
Near where his house once stood,
His signature is pretty cool, too.
Munch often used friends and acquaintances as models. Here, a close friend, the civic leader Christian Gierloff, a champion of housing reform and radical writer, posed for Munch in 1909.
I, too, have a great friend as a model :)
To be strolling with an art historian would have enhanced our appreciation for what we saw. Yet, Munch’s work here reflected a more positive outlook as opposed to the full-throated terror one witnesses in his famous dark ‘Scream’.
In addition to Munch’s art the town provided historical information on specific sites. One of the more interesting covered Oak Hill and Signe’s Field to the west of the gjestehavn, which I’ve provided below:
Ensuring we didn’t get any goo on our shoe as we began our trek down the hills to the guest marina
we saw some graffiti our artist friends might appreciate.
And, of course, where there’s an interesting manhole cover, a photograph must be taken :)
Jacob and Bjorn had left, but not without passing on some of their antsiness to leave port for the wilderness. This led to our selecting an anchorage just a few miles away for a head start to the Oslofjord. In mid-afternoon we left for Skutevikkilen, a recommended spot in the Kragero archipelago.
We motored through another gorgeous passageway,
similar to Blindleia from a few days prior, including the fogginess.
And, just like then, the captain carefully monitored the charts.
Skutevikkilen has a tricky entrance warranting the advice to get “…as close as you dare without touching land on your port side” to avoid a stealthy rock (“Norwegian Cruising Guide 7th Edition Vol. 2” by Phyllis Nickel and John Harries).
With a bit of concern we peeked through the skinny passage and found three to five motor boats moored to rocks just inside the opening. Too risky (we had also just met a local who told us they had hit that rock… twice).
Well, the skies didn’t seem too bad for continuing on: no rain and decent visibility. Another revision to our schedule: we’ll head offshore a bit and go five hours to another anchorage as opposed to the one hour motor we had originally planned.
Sunday-Monday, June 4-5
After five hours of rolling seas with the engine droning we passed through a narrow opening into a large harbor Sunday night. Sun came out as we dropped the hook. In spite of the swells coming from the south (which we were warned about) we had an easy night at Tallakshavn, populated with summer cottages awaiting vacationing owners.
Monday, June 4
We woke well-rested ready for a beautiful 10-hour sail up the Oslofjord. Blue sky and sun beckoned us north as we saw the most boats we’d seen in Norwegian waters since we began cruising here in 2015. Definitely felt summer had landed in Norway as determined ferries and cruise liners avoided tacking sailboats, darting jet skies and gliding wind surfers, all out enjoying a good breeze and perfect temps.
The day was made for sailing and for a full-belly spinnaker monitored carefully in case a wind change wrapped it around a forestay (a support for another sail behind the jib and in front of the mast). This has happened twice in the past three summers, and, trust me, it’s never a happy occasion. (The Norwegian flag and a burgee of Ocean Cruising Club, a great sailing organization, fly on a spreader. When we enter the waters of another country we are required to hoist that country’s flag as a courtesy. Our Norwegian one is one of the largest flag in our collection :).)
All harmless and all brief. Do you spot a relaxed captain?
We entered our next anchorage just outside Oslo’s main harbor finding it filling up with partyers, along with the ubiquitous swan
and a Norwegian Rescue boat, the latter hurrying off with siren blaring.
But, the best part of our anchorage began with a knock on the hull. We met two kayakers, Snorre and Christopher. After some introductions Snorre related how he and his partner, Ingunn, had sailed from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean and then back to Norway 2014-2016. Like our friend Thijs, also a cruiser, who stopped by on his bike a year ago in Hoorn, Snorre saw a foreign-flagged boat and came by to say hello.
We gave him a boat card only to have him return in a few minutes to see if we’d like to join him and Ingunn for dinner the next night when we landed in Oslo. A date was set and we had something else to look forward to in addition to visiting Oslo. Actually, let me rephrase that, we had the best event to look forward to when visiting Oslo.
This is exactly why we love traveling: the possibility of meeting fabulous folk in amazing sites. We just happen to do so on a boat…