Norway – Haugesund and Skudeneshavn | Distant Shores Sailing Newsletters

Norway – Haugesund and Skudeneshavn

August 26, 2011


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Newsletter: Norway – Bergen south to Haugesund and Skudeneshavn

Sheryl with the city and harbours of Bergen below. Photo credit Paul Shard

The city of Bergen, our first port in Norway (see July newsletter) was to become our central base for cruising the west coast of this dramatically beautiful country. South of Bergen were several island groups we wanted to explore and north of Bergen we wanted to explore the fjords, especially Sognefjord, the world's longest fjord.

We decided it was best to go south first, then conclude our cruise of Norway in the north since departing from northern ports would give us the best angle on the prevailing northwest winds to sail back across the North Sea to the Shetland and Orkney islands north of Scotland where were scheduled to film the next episodes of Distant Shores later in the summer.

One of the challenges of cruising in Norway is figuring out where to go – there are literally thousands of choices! With the numerous barrier islands plus fjords off fjords off fjords, route planning can be a challenge. We did our research by first surfing the internet to find websites and blogs of other cruising sailors who have experience cruising here. This way we got a feel for common routes and “favourites” plus recommendations on cruising guides and other resources.

We found the most helpful cruising guides for our style of cruising was the Imray pilot entitled “Norway” by RCC Cruising Club Pilotage Foundation/Judy Lomax now in a second edition, and an wonderful e-book cruising guide which we purchased online at and downloaded onto our iPad.

The best and most fun way to research is to talk face to face with sailors you meet along the way and to go over the charts together marking good places and getting their opinions on decisions you've made merely through reading.

Paul carries an iPhone onto which he's downloaded the Navionics app which gives us electronic charts in a portable style. Then when we meet someone and they start talking about great places he can quickly bring up the chart of the area and mark a waypoint or suggested route. Wow! It's great and very inexpensive. We also have this on our iPad in HD version which we get through the iTunes store. It's great for planning. We use our Raymarine chartplotter for navigation which uses Navionics charts also but the mobile apps are good back-ups. Check out the Navionics website for more info on these mobile navigation tools.

Korsfjord Photo credit: Sheryl Shard

So with our route planned south to Haugesund, we cast off from the town quay in Bergen 60º24' N 5º19'E. It was lovely sunny day, a change for the rainiest city in Norway. Winds were light so for most of the morning we were motor-sailing but we were thankful for the quiet warmth and stunning surroundings where the snow-topped mountains glimmered in the rare sunshine.

Marstein Lighthouse Photo credit: Sheryl Shard

For about 3 hours we wound our way out through the fjords (Byfjord, then Raunefjord to Korsfjord) back towards the North Sea and, just before the Marstein light where we'd made landfall in Norway a few days before, we tucked into the tight but very protected wilderness anchorage on West Horgo 60º05.7'N 05º05.9'E. The anchorage here is very deep, 21 m (69 ft), but we carry 80 m (262 ft) of 3/8 chain and the forecast was for very light winds for the weekend, so we put out over 60 m (197 ft) which is 3 to 1 scope and were quite comfortable.

Anchorage at West Horgo Photo credit: Paul Shard

We spent the weekend swinging on the hook, cataloguing clips from the footage we'd shot earlier in Shetland and on the North Sea passage, updating our script notes, and making phone calls to arrange interviews and follow up story leads for our upcoming shoot in the Haugesund area, our next destination. We also scrabbled up the high surrounding rocky cliffs to get shots of the anchorage for the Distant Shores TV show and our magazine articles. It wasn't all work though. Paul actually took a break and went swimming. The water temperature was 15ºC (59ºF)! That is way too cold for me! Paul told me that after he got used to it he didn't notice the cold. I think it was because he was completely numb!

Sailing wing and wing Photo credit: Sheryl Shard

On July 4th we raised anchor, leaving Horgo and had a fabulous downwind sail to the port of Haugesund. Our route took us down Stokksund, the lovely channel or sound between the islands of Stord and Bømlø. We poled out the genoa and flew wing and wing down-wind, down-channel and down-current. Although the day was cool and overcast the universe came together for a lovely day of sailing.

Cruising on the west coast of Norway you often have good winds but flat seas due to the numerous surrounding islands. You just have to be prepared for strong unexpected gusts if the surrounding cliffs are high.

Once through Stokksund and under the bridge we enter Bømlafjord and then headed out into a stretch of open water called Sletta which is classed as a dangerous sea area due to the lack of shelter, great variations in depths – 2m to 250m – which can cause dangerous turbulence and strange currents. However, we had light wind with tide so it was no issue. We just enjoyed the scenery as we sailed gently along the coast.

July is high season and we were prepared to be rafted 3 or 4 deep against the town quay when we arrived in Haugesund but we lucked out and got a choice spot right alongside in front of the Maritime Hotel near the south bridge. The Maritime Hotel manages the showers, laundry facilities, etc. and collects harbour fees.

When we arrived a man from the Port Authority came down to say hello. He was an avid fan of the Distant Shores TV series which airs in Europe on Travel Channel and had recognized us and the boat as we came in. Being familiar with our programme, he had some very good ideas for local activities and projects to film for the show including the construction of the world's largest ocean-going Viking ship to be built in modern times that was taking place right there in the port. He made the introductions and we visited the building site to interview the skilled and passionate team working on this historic ship.

The ship is named Dragan Harald Fairhair after Harald Fairhair, the Viking king that unified Norway into one kingdom. The ship is a hundred and fourteen feet of crafted oak, twenty-seven feet on the beam, displacing seventy tons, a thirty-two hundred square foot sail of pure silk.

The Dragon Harald Fairhair will have 25 pairs of oars. It is necessary to have at least two people on  each oar to row the ship efficiently. That will give a crew of at least 100 persons.

This magnificent ship is on schedule to launch in April 2012. Volunteers from around the world are being sought to train and participate in upcoming voyages. To learn more, visit their website at

The next day we met up with Dr. Jostein Waage for more sightseeing around the Haugesund area. We met Dr. Waage in 2009 when we were filming aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship “Explorer of the Seas” for Distant Shores episode 75 “Cruising in Style” (Season 6 DVD) on a voyage to Bermuda. He said if we were ever in Norway in Haugesund, where Dr. Waage serves as a city councillor, to give him a call and he'd show us around.

We had a great day together visiting Alvadnes, once the ancient centre of power on the North Way, where the name Norway comes from, and excavations are still going on. There is also great heritage museum and Viking Farm called the Nordvegen History Centre where we learned about the history of the unification of Norway and learned about Viking life from the knowledgeable staff who dress in period costume and demonstrate crafts and food preparation from Viking times.

We also visited an old copper mine at Visne and learned that the copper used in the building of the Statue of Liberty came from here. Who knew?!

Another astonishing tidbit from Haugesund and that the actress, Marilyn Monroe's, father (or would that be grandfather?) is supposedly from Haugesund and there is a statue of her on the waterfront right in front of the Maritim Hotel. Haugesund hosts a popular annual international film festival too.

From Haugesund we continued south down Karmsund between the mainland and the island of Karmøy to the picturesque, historic and very crowded (for good reason) harbour of Skudeneshavn. “Skudenes” refers to the ships used in the early 20th century in the herring fleet that brought prosperity to the town. The old homes and warehouses have been preserved and there is an interesting museum along with ilittle boutiques and restaurants. There are also nice walking trails, a park with bandstand, and a beautiful white sand beach. No wonder this is a popular destination for both boaters and landlubbers.

Skudeneshavn was our furthest point south on Norway's west coast. From here we turned back to begin the voyage north up to explore the world's longest fjord, Sognefjord, which I'll tell you all about in my next newsletter.

In the meantime, Paul has been postings lots of news and photos of this year's voyage as well as responding to comments and questions on the Distant Shores TV Show Facebook page. If you are Facebook user, please drop by and “Like Us”.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard Distant Shores II

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