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Norway (Belgium - Netherlands - Norway - Netherlands - Belgium)

Date: 14/6 to 10/7/2016
(all pictures are clickable, and the videos are best seen full screen in HD)

I've been dreaming to do the Norwegian fjords for 25 years... This year I finally went for it! I went with a friend of mine who hasn't sailed for a while, so I decided to split the journey in 2 legs, one from Belgium to the Netherlands, followed by the crossing to Norway, more specifically to Bergen. The idea is to make the long journeys at first, then do some small trips locally and enjoy there.

Our first leg was from Nieuwpoort (Belgium) to Ijmuiden. It's a more or less 100nm (185km) journey which took less than 24h.
The weather forecast was good and we could sail with the spinnaker on. Later on the wind increased too much for the spinnaker and we continued with the partial gennaker (front sail). In the northern North Sea, there are many oil and gas platforms, and we had to 'slalom' to avoid them. There are also "parking areas" for cargo vessels waiting to be unloaded... The vessels are on anchor in depths usually between 40 and 60m.
Under spinnaker... The "Vol au vent" (140m long !), the ship that installs windmills on the Thornton Bank in the North Sea A small oil platform
We arrived in Ijmuiden in the middle of the night. We had to wait a couple of days before we could continue to Norway as the weather on our track was not good at all. So we decided to take this opportunity to go to Amsterdam, which is easily reachable by the large river Ij. We went to the new Amsterdam Marina (nice marina), which was close to a ro-ro to the Central Station and the centrum of Amsterdam. We had a boat trip on the canals there and had a quick visit of the town center. We had a good time at the Bols Museum (Bols is a liquor 'factory' which exists for over 400 years ! The museum is not that big, but very pleasant and concise. A cocktail is included in the price. )
On the Ij in Amsterdam (the Central Station in the middle) Even big ships get there (we've even seen a cruise ship) Amsterdam by night from the marina
One of the many public shops were one can buy weed and other drugs A part of the bicycle 'parking' of the Central Station...
On the canals...
Bols museum...
After a few days 'rest', we continued our journey to Norway. We had to avoid windmill farms and oil&gas terminals and platforms. We also had 3x the company of "white beaked dolphins". They are bigger than the common dolphins (up to 2-3m in length and 200-350kg).

A BIG platform White beaked dolphin
We passed the Korsfjorden to get to Bergen. It's a large and easily accessible passage. One of the thing that amazed me, is that at about 10-20m from the edge of most fjords, we have a depth from 40 to +100m ! (compared to most of the North Sea in Belgium, it's huge as we have barely more than 20-30m in Belgium...)
The lighthouse at the entry of the fjord The mountains at the back of the fjord
A panaramic view of the Korsfjorden...
Although we've seen the marine charts before coming here, we were surprised by the maze of islands we've encountered... In some places you better have a good chart and GPS, or you're lost ! Many of these islands have one or several houses or weekend huts. Their sceneries must be fantastic !
Video of the entrance of the Korsfjorden:

In Bergen we went to the Vågen harbour. We (motor)sailed 472nm (874km) from Ijmuiden to get there.

A quick linguistic lesson in Norwegian language : the letter å is more or less pronounced [o], ø is like [eu] (mud) and æ is like [a] (cat).

This harbour is quite nice and pleasant, though some of the places are exposed to traffic noise as the road passes along the northern side... I discovered that the Norwegian marinas work differently from the ones I've encountered until now: there is no harbourmaster office ! One can contact the harbourmaster by telephone or eventually by VHF. To pay for your berth (many are alongside the quays and are fended with truck tires ! Watch for the black marks on your hull !!!) you have to use a machine (like a parking meter for cars) or, like in Haugesund, use an application on your smartphone (! as a foreigner, you better have roaming internet on your phone, or go to a bar with wifi).
The Statsraad Lehmkuhl sailing vessel. Launched in 1914, she still participates at the Tall Ship Race. A view of the marina...
We were moored in the northwest side of the marina. Close to the road, but also close to the Bryggen, old wharf and wooden houses. Bergen was founded around 1070. It was damaged by several fires, like many old wooden towns. The old houses of Bryggen are believed to be from the second half of 18th century. It is protected by the UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage since 1979.
Note how the houses lean on each other...
But in the old town center of Bergen, there are also nice houses/areas.
And if you take the funicular in Bergen (Fløibanen), you get a spectacular view of the bay... The Vågen harbour and the old town is on the right-hand side.
The following picture, taken at 2h30 (in the morning thus), shows you that it never get really dark over there in the night. One might argue that it is because of the light "pollution" but I can confirm that it was like that all the nights we've spend in the north (even in the middle of the North Sea, far away from land).

From Bergen we went to the Lysøya island, where the Norwegian violinist Ole Bull (1810-1880) build his summer villa (in 1872).
The area around of the island (in the center):
This is a video of the area and the villa, which is now a museum. (sorry, the weather was cloudy, so not too much color)
From here, we went to Husnes, passing through the nice Lukksundet fjord and visiting the beginning of the (long, +100km) Hardangerfjorden. It was also our first day of some pleasant sunshine.
Leaving Lysøya:
The omnipresent white and blue roros (ferries). There are also plenty of fast shuttles. Shadow play...
On anchor at Husnes Picture taken @ 22h20 ! Note that the sun is still in the sky ! Picture taken @ 23h27 !
Our next stopover to the south was Haugesund. We remained there a couple of days, as we wanted to eat in a good restaurant (good reviews) which was closed the first 2 days and the place is relaxing.
The very good restaurant Lothe's
From Haugesund we continued our leg towards the Lysefjorden.
We anchored in a bay of the green and 'flat' island of Mosterøy.
Mosterøy and around...
Our next stop was at the entrance of the Lysefjorden (known for the Preikestolen)...
We were in the little marina of Bergevig. There is a little Joker supermarket there: very friendly people and they actually had a lot of stuff on sale, including fresh fruit and vegetables. Unfortunately the weather was not good when we were in this nice fjord: we had regularly rain & showers which reduced our visibility and sceneries...
From here we went to Tananger where we prepared our return to Belgium.
My memories from this journey in Norway are that, despite the not so terrific weather we had, this country is very beautiful and the people very friendly.

We sailed to the island of Texel, more specifically the harbour of Oudeschild. Underway, I decided to interrupt our progress for about 10h as a heavy depression was ahead of us (force 7, which later became a force 8-9 on the Danish southwest coasts).
Oudeschild is a lovely typical old Dutch little town. The marina was nice but it was, for my boat, more than twice as expensive as any other marina I went to in the Netherlands!!! Another amazing feature is that the berths for the biggest boats are located on pontoons which have a depth of only 1.4m at low water!
And yes, another net I got in my propeller... and that in the far end of the marina !
We sailed through the Ijzel- and Markermeer to Amsterdam, where we stayed in the Amsterdam Marina, then continued to Scheveningen. From there we went straight to Nieuwpoort.
Sun rising while leaving Scheveningen behind...

All in all we covered just not 1.400nm (1.397 to be precise, a 2.587km).