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12th July, 2016


One pilot left in the evening and another joined just before next morning’s coffee time, we continued north, but in rather overcast conditions. Visibility was good however, and as we approached Hollandsfjord the grey cloud appeared to lift. Speed was reduced until Sapphire seemed to just glide across the waters, and then, up to our right, the Svartisen Glacier came into view. Down to just two knots, we turned at the very head of the fjord and ‘lingered’ for twenty minutes or so. I had the passengers looking out for the two ‘tame’ moose that are now advertised as being available to ‘kiss’. They must have been having a shy day; fortunate perhaps, 600 Saganauts would have been quite a challenge.

A slow overnight passage across the Vestfjorden took us over to the spectacular Lofoten Islands and Leknes, a small port really only used by cruise ships in the summer months. The forecast was good and gradually the low clouds lifted revealing stunning scenery. Mrs R and I joined a panoramic tour that soon dived into a tunnel taking us to the adjacent island and Vikten, where we made a stop at the glass blowing workshop of ‘Glasshytta’. This unique glass is now a symbol of the Lofoten Islands and the demonstration was most interesting. Being somewhat inquisitive I had noticed a crate load of empty spirit bottles outside the back door, so I asked whether these were collected for recycling into the products produced. The glassblower smiled and said ‘Yes, but I don’t drink all the contents myself, except perhaps in the winter’.

We drove on, along narrow winding roads, to Nusfjord which is advertised as ‘One of Norway’s oldest and best preserved fishing villages’. The village is still owned by the Dahl family and is very much the tourist site, but tastefully done as it is now on the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. In season, large hauls of fish are still landed, particularly cod in the winter, but in days gone by, thousands of cod were laid out on drying racks for up to six months. A small processing factory would separate liver, tongue and head, much of which would be exported. An audio visual presentation, in a darkened warehouse room still having the faint ‘whiff’ of the old days, gave a fascinating insight into what life must have been like. Outside, screeching gulls nested on window ledges, resulting in the boardwalk being ‘bomb alley’, tourists beware!

It was a delightful tour and by the time we sailed in mid-afternoon there was only blue sky above. As we proceeded further into the Vestfjorden, the mountains behind with their jagged peaks looked truly stunning.

Captain Philip Rentell

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