sailing in Norway

I grew up in Northern Europe and spent a couple of holidays in Sweden and Finland but never had the chance to get to Norway. So when it comes to sailing closer to the Arctic circle, Norway is top of the list.

Norway is located in the North Atlantic on the Scandinavian peninsula. It borders Sweden to the east and Finland and Russia to the northeast. Geographically, the country is awe-inspiring, characterised by mountain ranges and barren plateaus, plus the Norwegians are pretty cool humans.

Norway is surrounded by about 150,000 (!) islands, including Jan Mayen in the Greenland Sea and the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Only 50,000 of them are inhabited. If you combine the coastlines of all fjords, bays and islands, the Norwegian Atlantic coast measures over 80,000 kilometres. That's not a typo, by the way.

Southern Norway is a popular area for sailors, especially the Oslofjord and the area around Bergen. The landscape in this region varies. Along the Oslofjord, there are many islands, sidearms and quiet bays for anchoring. It stretches 100 km inland and is the entrance to the capital Oslo. From Bergen to Stavanger, the coast is very rugged and surrounded by an archipelago.

Sailing between these remote islands is an unforgettable nature experience. However, from a navigational point of view, the area is very demanding and requires good sailing skills. You should also be prepared to do without the usual marina comforts. In Lofoten, you primarily anchor in the small fishing ports or the natural harbours.

Some of Norway's sailing areas are full of challenges. Depending on the coastal region, the navigational demands vary greatly. There are numerous rocks above and below the water in the archipelago, and the passages are sometimes very narrow. Navigating here requires an increased level of attention. It is easy to lose your bearings among the many islands, so it is advisable to keep an eye on your position at all times. Night sailing can be challenging, especially in unpopulated areas, and is not recommended. Inside the fjords, navigation is much easier. Shoals are rare, and the individual rocks in the fairway are extensively buoyed. If you have enough experience, you can also sail here at night.

The wind is predominantly onshore, blowing from the west at 3 to 4 Bft. However, the wind conditions also depend on the shape of the coast and are sometimes very special, for example, in the archipelago areas. There are wind shadows due to offshore mountains and jet effects, downbursts, and wind deflections. It is highly advisable to pay attention to weather changes and regularly listen to wind forecasts.