Never really felt like Norway in November until now!
We come round Statt, the fist of land that punches defiantly out into the Norwegian Sea. We cross over on a day of infinite blue sky, when the fighting waters are taking a breather and lapping gently against the great cliffs.
We make for Runde Island. In summer, we could have taken the time to float lazily along at three and a half knots but I don’t know the harbour, only that it is small. In the chilly air, I like to arrive with some daylight lingering to guide our way. In other words, we motor all but an hour. By 3 the light is fading.
It is Katie’s birthday, and we dance through the day from start to finish, favourite tunes, celebratory tunes; a very joyous voyage. Little auks, signs of plankton but no whales.
Runde is known for its bird populations, especially puffins. Runde Environmental centre is a marine research centre and our friend Rune had made us an introduction with Ovidie, a marine biologist working both as a scientist and as the marine plastic coordinator for the various organisations in the area. We bundle up to the centre, taking photos in the pinking light, and fall into the lovely warmth of the centre’s welcome café. Ovidie’s partner, Ørion, meets us and is the perfect, enthusiastic host. He and a fellow physicist have spent the day trying to deploy a Slocum Underwater glider, but it did not play ball and they are trying to unglitch the issues, to make good use of the calm conditions driving out to where the sea bed plunges past the thousand metre contour to study various attributes of the water column to this depth. We stare through a microscope at plankton and ”oo” at the purpose built labs and facilities the centre boasts. Ørion’s area of study and passion is cold water corals, and we are keen for him to show us his film discovering corals in the Trondheim fjord.
Friday we meet with Ovidie and hear about the fantastic organisation of volunteer and professional beach cleaners here in the region. In Norway, single use plastic bags are taxed heavily and a large percentage of that fee goes to pay for clean up operations. It’s a double-edged sword as the higher price is ultimately to dissuade people from being at a shop unprepared. Funds for marine plastic cleaning have a built-in cutoff point as people’s habits change. Ovidie is already looking at a reduced budget for next year. Hopefully there will be a reduced need too but marine plastic doesn’t respect borders, only ocean currents.
Coming north of Statt is a step forward for me. I envisaged being much further north at this time but repairs dictated otherwise. I found myself stressing about the return to Scotland and studying the forecasting models till I started to see double. I messaged a good friend and said that I had just drawn a line under it and said NO! I will start looking towards the end of next week, around the full moon which is was always my plan for heading home across the North Sea. I want to enjoy being here in Norway in November. I have chosen this and so far my time has been blessed with incredible weather, highly unusual for this time of year. My friend pointed out a few moot points about my character and it is edifying to be pulled up about a few things that are definitely a fault of mine. So I am thoroughly immersing myself in these last few days.
Saturday we take on board fuel at the city of Fosnavåg, access via an automatic pedestrian swingbridge under a 24m bridge which takes my breath away, mid swear word! We come back under the same bridge and the tide is higher. It is emotional. We dance our way into Hjørundfjorden as far as Saebø. I am pinching myself that Selkie is moored onto a sheltered pontoon, safely ensconced in the heart of the snowy peaks and rocky towers. What a joy to be here! Possibly the best hot chocolate in the world next to a roaring fire at Sagafjord Hotel and Marina reading their copy of ski touring in the Sunnmøre Alps. As it is November, no other boats are here so there is plenty of space and we could go right into the inner marina should the weather deteriorate and still be secure. I would love to come back here… though I need to work on my skiing ability to be able to do any of the tours described. I think it is safe to say that I love Norway!