Schooner Sailing: Bergen to Stavanger

After my great “taster weekend” sailing the schooner Trinovante from Ipswich in May last year, we both decided that this was something we’d like to do again, with the attraction of tall-ship sailing with Schoonersail and the scenery of Norway as an additional lure. Diary constraints meant that the week almost picked itself, and we found ourselves last November booking a week with Su and John and six strangers. Nine months on, we took a plane from Gatwick to Bergen and the airport bus deposited us by the harbour in Bergen. A pigeon pooped on me and my bag, and shortly afterwards it started to rain – welcome to Norway.

Trinovante is a three-masted gaff-rigged schooner, 21 metres (70 feet) long on deck and 23.9 metres (80 feet) long overall, with a draft of 2.2 metres (6 feet). Launched in 1994 she has nine guest berths (carrying up to eight guests) plus our hosts, guides, teachers and fellow voyagers John and Su.

Day 1

As we prepare to leave our berth in Bergen, there is an opportunity for a final look at Bryggen, the Hanseatic commercial wharf buildings in Bergen that are now a World Heritage Site.
Getting underway, we leave the harbour of Bergen. We spent some of the evening on introductory safety briefing, and as soon as we are out of the harbour we practiced the man-overboard drill (with a bucket to be rescued). We filled up with diesel (the tank coming in at over six hundred pounds).
Initially it was very calm and we passed a group of yachts nominally racing under sail but really just jilling about until there was some wind. That came later, and we spent much of the afternoon with some good sailing, before getting sails down to motor through the narrow Lukksund
The Norwegian coast is a complex mixture of many islands, big and small, with a criss-crossing network of fjords resulting in a beautiful landscape on a huge scale.

Day 2

We moored for the night at a timber quay at Uskadalen. The next morning as we prepared to get underway, a farmer who has come over from the next island in this boat with the milk from his six cows to wait for the milk tanker. It’s extraordinary that this can still be economic in 2011 but Norway is a remarkable place.
We set off from the quay under sail. Conditions were blustery, with wind being alternately being sheltered and funnelled by the hills.
Claire and I went onto the bowsprit to be ready to get down the jib in a hurry.
Tea time – there is an awful lot of tea-drinking goes on aboard Trinovante! The team is small enough to be rapidly friendly and supportive, but large enough that numbered tea mugs are important.
Sailing up Hardangerfjord towards a long waterfall (“foss” in Norwegian, which suddenly makes all those Forces in northern England make sense)
With the wind dead aft, we sail goose-winged for a while with the foresail and mainsail on opposite sides
Just visible on the top of the mountains is the ice-cap glacier of Folgefonna which covers 207 sq. km
Some impressive “fossen” – Furebergfossen
With the wind starting to fail, we decided to turn right up the side fjord to Sundal
Coming in to moor at Sundal
The outflow glacier of Bondusbreen from Sundal. The ice road from the village to the glacier was used to transport ice down from the glacier to the fjord and thence across Europe.
The glacial lake of Bondhusvatnet at 190 metres above the fjord, sitting on the boundary of the National Park. Some of us walked on the additional distance to the waterfall seen at the other end of the lake…
…but time was running short to go much further. Three-day trips are available over the glacier, which sounds like an interesting expedition.
A cheerful party heading back to Sundal after feasting on wild raspberries.
Descending the “ice road” to Sundal village
A number of the buildings have turf roofs

Day 3

Next morning, a 180-degree view from Trinovante at Sundal quay.
Trinovante leaves the quay to provide some photographic opportunities.
Three of the many ferries that provide links across the fjords
More tea-drinking as we sail much of the length of Hardangerfjord towards the sea.
A fish farm as we approach our stop for the night

Day 4

Next morning, a 180° view from our anchorage at Vorlandsvågen
In 21 metres we had put out all of our chain, and it was a team effort to raise it. (They’re laughing at me taking the photo, not at Lucy and Claire.)
We had a great run through coastal waters which brought a gentle swell at times.
Three of the crew felt a bit green, but the party the night before may have been a factor.
The many, many islands range from large with many inhabitants to small rocks
Su and John as we pass through Haugesund
Glenn and I preparing to hoist one of the fisherman’s topsails
The fisherman aloft
Coming in to moor at Skudenshaven
Skudenshaven – we went out under sail the next morning, which was wonderful.

Day 5

Rob taking a break by the forward hatch
Fisherman’s ready to go up again
Fishing for mackerel
Our three fishers – Claire, Michael and Lucy – with their catch of seven mackerel (two tiddlers having been thrown back).
The fishers eating their catch
More sail-hoisting preparation

Day 6

Morning view from our anchorage at Økstrafjorden
Another view at Økstrafjorden
Exploring possible anchorages for a future voyage
The “fish-aker” is something between a fisherman’s and a spinaker and is around 1000 square feet.
John checks our progress – his periodic reports reduced from a slow amble to a processing down the aisle pace to an all-fours crawl (which he demonstrated) as our pace slowed to 0.5 knots and we almost lowered sail and motored, but patience paid off and the winds improved.
The beautiful Norwegian scenery seems never-ending
Coming in to moor at Stavanger
Trinovante in Stavanger harbour

Day 7

And so it is almost time to go home. We spent much of Friday at the Petroleum Museum before catching the bus to the airport.

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