Sailing from Shetland to Norway | Distant Shores Sailing Newsletters

Sailing from Shetland to Norway

July 1, 2011

Bergen, Norway

Latitude: 60º24'N
Longitude: 5º19'E
Historic Hanseatic buildings in Bergen
Happy Canada Day to all our family and friends back home!

This year Paul and I are celebrating our national day in Norway at the town quay in Bergen where we are, totally by chance, rafted to another Canadian yacht, Milvina, owned by friends from Montreal who we haven't seen for several years. It was a serendipitous reunion when we sailed into Bergen and we have had a pleasant afternoon celebrating Canada Day with Neil and Helen and their son, Michael. We were lucky and got a dry sunny day. Bergen, the second largest city in Norway, is the wettest place in Norway with rain on average 260 days a year.

Paul and I arrived in Norway aboard our Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II, on June 29 after a fast 24-hour 195nm passage from the Muckle Flugga light (60º51'N 0º53'W) at the most northerly end of the UK in the Shetland Islands to the Marstein light (60º8'N 5º4.5'E) on the west coast of Norway.

It was the best overnight sail we have ever had since at this latitude it never gets dark at this time of year! Getting up for my 0200 – 0600 watch was a breeze with daylight. Even on Paul's watch at midnight, he had twilight and could easily see all the North Sea oil rigs we were passing en route over Halibut Bank, Bressay East Ground, and Viking Bank. We also crossed Meridian 0º of Greenwich on this passage.

The voyage started off with light SW winds but then went NW and strengthened to 20-25 kts with a constant drizzling rain. Flying our small self-tacking jib and a reefed mainsail, we soared between the raindrops towards Norway!

Once we reached the Marstein light at the entrance to Korsfjord, we had another 25 nm to go within the very protected and stunningly beautiful network of channels and fjords (Raunefjord and Byfjord) to reach the historic port of Vågan in Bergen, once an important base of the Hanseatic League.

The old waterfront warehouses where Norwegian stockfish was once processed and shipped to ports all around Europe by the Hanseatic merchants based here, have been renovated into colourful boutiques and restaurants.

Whenever Paul and I complete a passage and arrive in a new country we always treat ourselves to dinner out. But eating out in Norway is VERY expensive so rather than something fancy we shared a salad, medium pizza and 2 beer – the total was 380 Norwegian Kronar (NOK) or about $71 US dollars! An order of fish and chips in a cardboard box with 2 coffees in paper cups would have been about $35! The exchange makes prices over-the-top for non-Norwegians like us. Better to buy good quality Norwegian food in grocery stores and cook onboard. Luckily we had been warned beforehand and had stocked up on lots of supplies in the UK too before leaving which will help make this cruise more affordable for us.

Dockage at the town quay was within reason at 150 NOK per night which is about $0.50 US per foot/per night. This did not include power. You pay by credit card at an Automat machine at the head of the harbour. The instructions are in English as well as other major languages.

Norway is not a member of the EU so as a foreign yacht we had to clear in with both Customs and Immigration. (We cleared out of the EU in Lerwick in Shetland and carried clearance papers but were not asked for them in Norway.) The Customs office in Bergen is right in the harbour across from the visitors quay so walking over with our ship's papers was easy. To get our passports stamped for Immigration we were told to go to the Police Station which is just a couple of blocks up from the Tourist Office at the end of the harbour. It took a little while to find the right person to deal with us there but everyone was very kind and helpful and eventually our passports were stamped and the job was done.

Now we were free to explore this lovely town with it's warren of old alleyways, historic buildings, bustling fish market and beautiful views from the top of Mount Fløyen 320m. We rode the Fløibanen funicular railway to the top to film the panorama. We also really enjoyed a tour through the Hanseatic Museum located in an 18th century merchant's house on the waterfront where we learned about the life and work of the Hanseatic League in Bergen.

The Distant Shores TV series is widely viewed here in Norway where it plays weekly on Travel Channel so in the few days we've been here we have met many fans who have recognized us and have given us warm welcomes. The episodes we are filming here will be broadcast this coming winter. (In the USA you can see Distant Shores on WealthTV)

So stay tuned for more adventures in Norway!

And if you enjoy Facebook, we hope you will “Like Us” on the Distant Shores TV Show Facebook page where Paul has been postings lots of news and photos of this year's voyage as well as responding to comments and questions.

'Til next time.

Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard Distant Shores II
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