Arctic Sailing - Norway

Reine:  The children were delighted to be reunited with their dad
August 28th

After a delayed ferry, of several hours,  we made landfall in Lofoten, we had been told to look out for the steep mountains rising out of the sea from the ferry but the mist had set in and we could not see them until we had almost docked.  It was not really until the next morning that we could see the majesty of these islands and we fell in love.

For previous Norway travel, see here

As we had arrived late there was only time to dump our bags as we were to eat out.  It was our first night with Brimble, our boat and being reunited as a family and it was the crews last night before they headed back to the UK.  For those of you who do not know, Lofoten are islands to the west of the north coast of Norway and we had made landfall at Reine, voted several times in polls as Norway's most picturesque destination.  The reason we came here... it was the picture on the front cover of the boat pilot and Mr H had proclaimed the previous year, "I want to go THERE!", pointing at the cover.  So here we found ourselves.

A little about our boat, she is small in the conventional sense, 28 feet, but don't tell Mr H I said that, he is quite sensitive on the subject and she has taken good care of us over the years.  We travel on her extensively and for an old girl, she was built in 1972, she is holding up very well.  Back then they built boats to last, she is sturdy and strong and made of glass fibre.  For those of you particularly interested, she was designed by Kim Holman and is a Twister, called such as he twisted the design on then sailing yachts and in her hey day, her class won most races as she was fast.  When I say fast, not by modern standards, we tend to cruise around the 3-5 knots an hour (about 5-6 mph!)  Anyway, those that like travelling and sailing, we have another blog if you would like to see where in the world we have taken her over the years, just click  here

It is funny how you think you treat your children the same and that they grow up with the same influences etc, but when it comes to food my two are like chalk and cheese.  Our eldest, our daughter, loves to eat meat, her favourite meal being a steak cooked rare, whereas, our youngest, our son, will nearly always order fish.  so it was with trepidation that Miss H looked at the menu that evening as she had been warned that food served on these islands were strong on sea life.  And indeed, all that was on the menu was!  Oops!  I on the other hand was in my element as with having a daughter and a husband who both would prefer not to eat fish, it was my opportunity.  I had the BEST fish soup I have ever tasted in my life.  On asking the chef later that evening what was his special ingredient, he informed me that he was not formally trained and had learnt all his cookery skills from his mother, as had his brother who was a chef north on the island, but that he could not share his secret, shame.  so what did Miss H order, well, there was one mammal on the menu and with a nervous voice she ordered whale from the waitress.

Best fish soup, I have ever tasted, worth going back for.

I meant to take a picture of the plate of whale but forgot!
So instead took a photo to show how well it went down! 

The mist stayed all night in Reine

It was so atmospheric with the mist in Reine.

Mountain tops peeking through the mist.

Outside looking in, no wonder the Norwegians use
lots of different lamps, lights and candles,
look how inviting it looks.

The GSB in Reine

You can just make out GSB
between the fisherman's huts
As the crew that had helped us on the last few hundred miles were still sleeping on the boat, the children and I had been booked into a traditional Fisherman's hut.  In days gone by, these would have been very basic and not much too it, but with the advantage of being right next to the boat.  These have now been refurbished throughout Lofoten and are now great places to stay, for us, what could be better, if we couldn't stay on board the GSB, then we could stay very very close... 

Robua or Fisherman's huts.
 Our first night accommodation in Lofoten.
The further north you travel in the world during the mid summer months the lighter it becomes and the longer the sun is with you.  I thought it might be difficult to sleep but it wasn't.  Although it was more difficult to go to bed, remember having young children and suddenly finding they could not understand why they had to go to bed in the summer 'because it is still light' they would say, well it was a little bit like that, also not helped by the fact that the bar stayed open too!  Rolling into bed way way past midnight became a regular feature and it was still light when we finally turned in for the night/early morning.
After a late night everyone slept in,
so I had some quiet crochet time
A huge part of the enjoyment and adrenaline thrills to this part of our arctic adventure was the mountain walks we partook, or should I say mountain climbs!!  I had never walked a vertical wall before...phew!

The walk began gently

The water was so clear but cold!

It began to get steep beside the waterfall

Half way up, we were rewarded with a fresh water lake

Again, half way up and we were pretty high, this was as far up as I went,
we had already walked for 3.5 hours, so my round trip was 7 hours!

Half the family continued and were rewarded by this spectacular view, in all they climbed/walked for 9 hours.

The weather can change extremely quickly
and we became soaked through on our walk. 
Trying to dry out the boots with newspaper!

Mr H  and his crew before they left for the UK

Sailing was a pleasure but like with any Norwegian sailing you have to have your wits about you as suddenly there can be rocks jutting out where you least expected.

Norway's second largest glacier and the closet to sea level

Two very important crew members

Pod of killer whales

Occasionally we set sail with the children still sleeping!

Henningsvaer was a firm favourite with us all, it had great walks, beautiful scenery and even a few shops, museum and art gallery.  We could have spent longer here.  Wherever you looked in the town there was always something to catch my eye.  I could easily have added so many more photos to this post, but I will spare you, here are just a few...

Great colour use in the local bar

Shop front, so inviting

This was fantastic, outside a shop, the sign above the bench translates to:
 'Male parking', notice on the table is a newspaper and an ashtray!  Genius!

Every nook and cranny was inviting

Attention to detail

The obligatory drying fish that Lofoten is so famous for
and apart from tourism makes most of its revenue.

There are 20 puffins to discover within the surrounding area
of Henningvaer, a long story as to why they are they
and many are an adventurous difficult climb to find.

View from another walk. 
There are many bridges in Lofoten connecting the islands.

After some confusion we managed to meet up with some good friends of ours who sailed across the North Sea from the UK to sail  in the arctic too.  They also are to leave their boat in the north of Norway over winter.  They had had a rough sail over so were particularly pleased to be only now short hop sailing.

The GS Thembi, sailed across the north sea
and we were glad to see our good friends,
albeit for one day and night.

We managed a quick swim in the arctic lake, it was 12 degrees

Our third sail hop along the islands took us to the capital of Lofton, Svolvaer.  It is a very small place! But we did manage to grab ourselves a shower, always a great thing to do.  We have no running water on our boat and no real washing facilities either.  It is all VERY BASIC!


The obligatory photo of  'polar bear beer',
brewed it claims in the northern most brewery of the world. 
Quite a claim.
Some of the numerous fish drying racks found all over the islands. 
During March - May the are filled with fish drying and
then sent mostly to Italy and Portugal.
Leaving Svolvaer the scenery as we sailed on was ever the more dramatic and ruggedly beautiful  I kept wondering what it would be like to live here all the time, remote, full of daylight hours in the summer and then thrown into darkness for the winter with gale strong winds and snow... how different from how we live and what we were experiencing this summer.

The famous goat mountain, where dare devil
 jump from one pinnacle to another!

Loddingen, the official last/first port of Lofoten,
depending on which direction you travel!

 So then it was time for our last sail of the season before GSB was to be hauled out. It was potentially a difficult sail as we had to sail through Tjelsundet, a narrow fjord where the current runs strong, the direction depending on the state of the tide.  Being sailors for many a year and asking everyone we met, you would think we would be able to find out when the current was running in which direction, but the answer was not so simple.  so we set sail, fairly sure we would be OK, but if we had calculated wrong then we would be sailing backwards!  Not a pleasant thought.  The entire sail, the current did not make any sense to us and it was not the strength we expected, but whatever, we arrived at our final destination and all was well.

Our final destination, just south of Harstad
Hauling out is always
 a nerve wrecking experience.

The yard are lovely but they did admit
to not being used to handling such 'small' boats!

Almost ready for winter...

Knowing the GSB was being looked after
 I had time for beach combing...

...and wine drinking!
I hope you have enjoyed sharing my sailing journey with me! 
Next instalment will feature my other passion...crochet ♥


  1. I can't really say much because it is all so stunning and so beautiful and so interesting that if I commented on it all I would go on for miles and you already know how wonderful it is because you were there!!!! I just love it and thank you for sharing this. I have popped over to Brimble's blog and am following that now too. I was surprised to see just how far you have travelled, amazing!! xx

    1. I know how you feel Amy, as I could have written so much more and have many more photos, it really is a very photographic country. Sailing is very precious to us as it gives us quality family time, Mr H lives away during the week, so these intense periods are all the more special. Glad you have hopped over to Brimble's blog. It is not updated very often, Mr H is a minimalist, but it will keep you abreast of all her news. Did you watch the Atlantic video? Selma ♥

  2. This blog post is wonderful, Selma. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos - and your family! N x

    1. Aww thank you Nicki. It's always hard to know how much to put in and how much to leave out... x

  3. No, I haven't had a good look round yet, it is on my list of things to do when I get a chance! xx

  4. Amy, the earlier posts refer to our year away sailing across the Atlantic and there is a 15 min video that the children produced as we were crossing the Atlantic ;) Do you sail?

  5. Fantastic Sel, looks so tranquil. X

    1. Umm,now I can guess who you are. Miss you. It was fabulous. And the family time together was so precious. Can't wait to catch up with you soon x. Yeah! You managed to list. Looksike my comments problem maybe sorted?!?!?

  6. Such beautiful photos Selma - it just looks amazing. I am not a sailor, as you know, but looking at your photos makes me wish I was !

    1. It is easy to get there by public transport too. Lofoten in the north is not that inaccessible. We are hoping to sneak back in the winter to maybe catch the northern lights Auntie Fay. You should too...

  7. Nydelige bilder Selma.
    Fantastisk tur dere har hatt
    Hilsen til dere alle.

    1. We were very lucky as I say or as Mr H says we created our own luck. The scenery in the north is so dramtaic and we were lucky with the weather there this year. Hope all is well your end Eli, thank you for commenting x

  8. Love the pictures and will definitely return one day

    1. Fab Cheryl! Thanks for letting me know about the comments too. Welcome to Norway any time x

  9. All wonderful Selma, have tried to comment a few times without any luck. Hope this works now.

    1. This one has worked! I hope that now I have changed the setting it should work for you everyone. Post again soon as let's see. Thanks mamma x

  10. Sounds amazing! And Norway is so beautiful. Will have to try and squeeze in a trip next summer! Love you xxxxxx

    1. Helloooooo Lisa. Thanks for popping over and posting. You should try and go back mamma would love it. Of course we will be there on the boat next summer, just saying...

  11. I loved reading your post and looking at your beautiful photos. it's hard for me to imagine what it would be like. I am in Australia, and our summer holidays are very hot!

  12. Hello Pen and welcome to eclectichomelife. So glad you stopped over. My best friend emigrated to Australia about 7 years ago and seeing her photos and hearing how hot it is, I cannot imagine that! North Norway was truly amazing and we enjoyed it immensely. But I must admit to feeling now we have turned to autumn here in the UK that I have missed out on summer sunshine. It could be a long winter this year.... Lovely to see you here, hope you come by again x


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