The Nordic expedition: where the sea meets the ice

September 14, 2021

Norwegian Fjords: a sailing trip between snowy mountains and breathtaking landscapes

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Sailing through the snow-capped mountains, it’s time to set course for the port of departure. Paul, our skipper, heads to Stavanger, the stronghold of the Norwegian fjords.

From the bow of “Thor”, a monohull Hanse 461 of 14 meters, I take advantage of this last crossing to tell you a little ‘our wonderful adventure in this land … the Western Norway! It is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating areas of the country in which to sail: we glide alongside majestic cliffs, between high mountains and mighty waterfalls, which flow into the North Sea… “a truly bucolic place”, as Paul used to say!

I had the pleasure of sharing this trip with four French-speaking gentlemen: Luc, a Breton with a penchant for atypical travel; Hugo et Florian, two Swiss who had to cover 1,000 nautical miles to validate their Swiss Offshore Yatching license; and finally Paul, our Dutch skipper, eager to share the experiences of this land with us.

We found ourselves all 5 of us on Paul’s boat, a beautiful monohull with a teak deck, ready to set off on this adventure. I knew right away that it was going to be an active trip: from the very first day the captain gave directions on how to manage the boat, and we immediately set to work under Paul’s watchful eye. Luc dropped the lines, Florian hoisted the sails, Hugo trimmed the mainsail, and in no time at all we all became totally immersed in the role of ancient Viking sailors!

Since this week was focused squarely on learning and practicing sailing, careful planning of these aspects was part of the program. Following the valuable advice of our skipper, a great connoisseur of the place, we gladly accepted the plan he proposed to us: sailing to the sensational Lysefjorden fjord!”.

And so, we began our Nordic expedition among the Norwegian fjords by sailboat. Hugo and Florian were thrilled, wanting nothing more than to push the boat at full speed, propelled by the Norwegian wind. Luc and I, on the other hand, were more focused on the beauty of the landscape.

 

Norwegian fjords sailing: a perfect training ground for learning to sail

While sailing, everyone played a specific role: everything was carefully organized on board. In turn, Hugo and Florian took turns at the helm, Luca managed the sails and Paul checked the route on his Navionix satellite. The wind in the fjords was very capricious, changing direction every few minutes, representing a perfect sailing exercise for our apprentices.

And me, armed with my cameras, I was carefully observing every little action and gesture of the crew. So much so that one day I didn’t even realize I had company until Luc, in the stretch of sea between Stavanger and Forsand, along the Kal-Voy Islands, said to me: “Alyzée, look: do you see their fins?”. There they were, right next to us: a group of shy dolphins was passing by us.

 

Preikestolen: 4444 steps and 5 hours of climbing to enjoy a unique landscape over the Norwegian fjords

Although the purpose of the trip was to sail windswept Norwegian fjords we frequently moored to explore the inland area via a dense network of trails. Having lived most of my life in the Caribbean, I have to admit that, in these places, I was like a kid on his first trip to Disneyland! In the face of my enthusiasm for shore excursions, Paul decided that he needed to take me to the most beautiful places in the area.

That’s how we decided to tackle the ascent to the famous Preikestolen, to which was then added the challenge of the well 4,444 steps of Florli, the largest staircase in the world!”

 

Florian and Hugo accompanied me on this ascent, while Paul and Luc preferred to wait for us in the boat over a steaming cup of coffee.

The music of the speakers hanging from the backpack dictated the rhythm of the trek, and we set off like new explorers to conquer the snowy peaks. Preikestolen was a 5-hour expedition, and to reach it you had to climb 604 meters above sea level! And when finally, after this first trek, you had to tackle the 4,444 steps of Florli, my brave acolytes abandoned me after only 1,500 steps! No problem, I continued my journey without them…and I confess that I didn’t miss Hugo’s jokes that much.

Despite the fact that I spent the entire week surrounded by men, I have to admit that food was not an issue, they were pretty good at cooking! Sure, the super fresh produce from the area lent itself to wonderful dishes, like the famous Norwegian salmon, but so did the specialties brought by each crew member. In short, this sailing trip through the Norwegian fjords was full of discoveries, even for the taste buds. During one of the stops, in Rennesoy, we also had the opportunity to taste a lamb ham, a homemade delicacy in the local monastery.

I’m nostalgic at the idea of leaving these people with whom I’ve shared so many laughs and funny moments…I console myself, however, with the thought that it won’t be goodbye, but goodbye.

Today I’m saying goodbye to a crew with whom I’ve forged special bonds, but I’m off to meet a new one on the other side of the world! Yes, in just a few hours I will find myself…in the Seychelles! From snow-capped mountains to crystal clear waters, without passing go.