A Hotel Manager out of his depth Matta1379 16. mars 2023
A Hotel Manager out of his depth

– Written by Jan Egil Fimreite –

Hotel Manager Egil Eggum (73) at the Klingenberg Hotel in Årdalstangen had the idea to buy a Sogefæring so that his guests could use it both on the Årdalsvatnet Lake and on the fjord by the hotel. He obtained the faering north of Bergen. 

This hotel manager isn’t like other Hotel Managers. Most people would transport the boat on a car trailer, but he wanted to sail and row the boat to Årdal at the end of the 200 km long Sognefjord. It was to be a difficult and troublesome voyage.

“It was an eventful voyage”, says the Hotel Manager, safe at home in the hotel in Årdal. “But I had told many friends and acquaintances about it, so I felt I had to go through with it. I also wanted a new experience and a change of scenery away from the hotel. In addition to some marketing for the hotel.”

He learned about the boat by coincidence. Initially, he wanted boat builder Øyvind Hatlevoll to build him one. But instead, he advised Eggum to buy a faering he knew about that was built after old knowledge. The owner had a cabin in the Fensfjord by Ostereidet, where the boat was docked.

Eggum tried to persuade people to join him, but everyone declined. And maybe that was just as well. Two people in a faering for ten days might be too much.

Food and equipment

“No, it was just as well that I did it alone. The most important things I brought were a wash bucket and a toilet bucket. I ate a lot of chocolate on my voyage, and being lactose intolerant, I used the toilet bucket more than a few times.”

He didn’t plan for long, even though he had grand ambitions in advance regarding HSE (Health, Safety and Environment. He stopped in Bergen and bought what he needed, like an anchor and an anchor rope. He had forgotten his sleeping bag, so he had to buy a pillow, a duvet at IKEA, and a nice mattress. He had planned on sleeping in the boat.

“I couldn’t get drafts, but I had Google Maps on my cell phone. It doesn’t contain as much info as drafts, but it was okay. It was just as well that the voyage wasn’t planned well. I didn’t know where I was going each day and where I was sleeping each night. It made for a more exciting voyage.

On day one, he and a helper travelled to Ostereidet in the morning, put the boat on the fjord, and rowed over to a ramp designed to load the boat onto a car trailer. From here, they transported the boat to Skjerjehamn, the starting point for the voyage. 

The ramp was too steep, so they couldn’t get back up with the car or the trailer when they backed down the trailer. This resulted in the trailer falling into the fjord, and the hotel manager had to get in the water and secure it to prevent it from falling to the bottom of the fjord. Luckily, a young farmer named Kenneth Innvær helped them using his tractor. Eggum dove and managed to secure the trailer per the farmer’s instructions, and the car, boat and trailer made it safely up on the road again. 

Of course, many people had gathered to witness the happenings in their neighbourhood. These were locals with knowledge of boats and waters.

“I was a bit embarrassed, but these people were great, and we had a nice chat about this boat type—one many of them had, as it turned out. They even helped secure the boat on the trailer. I invited Innvær and his family to stay a weekend at the hotel, and they graciously accepted.”

Caretaker Aloiz by the trailer
Ready for departure at Skjerjehamn
Brossviksåta in the background

“I started regretting not doing as boat builder Øyvind Hatlevoll said, using rocks to weigh down the bottom of the boat.”

The ride to Skjerjehamn went fine, where they stayed the night before the voyage began. The Chef at the hotel in Skjerjehamn had previously worked as a Chef at Klingenberg Hotell. He helped them with the boat. 

The locals had good knowledge of their square knots (reef knots), so they struggled for a while to undo the knots. But they managed it eventually.            

A variety of sailboats, including offshore sailing boats, were docked at Skjerjehamn Bay. Their owners were mostly likely knowledgeable sailors. The unsure Hotel Manager didn’t dare raise the mast while people were watching.

“I was afraid people would laugh at me.”

Then he began rowing. He rowed past Eivindvik and moored just before the village of Nyhammaren. The weather was nice and quiet, and some seals surfaced to regard the character from the industrial village. 

He weighed anchor and rowed closer to land before planning to secure the rope. But he hadn’t fastened the rope to the boat. He discovered this just as the rope landed in the fjord, but he didn’t catch the rope despite making a giant leap. It was very sinkable, so Eggum had to wave goodbye to his new anchor and anchor rope. He had to dock by land and borrow a wire a cabin owner had stretched nearby. The spot was perfect, and the hotel manager readied himself to sleep. But sleep didn’t come easy, as it was a freezing night.

“It was freezing, and I woke at 3 am. Then I had to row again to keep warm.”

Rutletangane with Lihesten in the background
The passage of the inlet at Rutletangane was very narrow
A nice wind in the direction of Brekke

He rowed to Dingja where he stopped, ate and relaxed. Then he continued to Rutletangane, an idyllic spot with many small islands. He looked for a passage between the islands. His first try was a miss, and he had to turn back again. On his next try, however, he found a small passage not in his draft that he barely passed through (see picture).

In the shelter of the islands, Eggum raised his sail and sailed far inward with the help of a nice wind. The weather was so great that he sailed until 11 pm.

“It went really well. Since it was my first time raising the mast and sailing the boat, I was proud that it went so well.”

He made it all the way to Brekke and had already decided he wouldn’t spend another night outside. He moored his boat and took a taxi to Brekkestranda Hotel. The next day, he stocked up, trying to get a new anchor, among other things. He didn’t get that, but he chatted with many nice boat people. 

From Brekke, he had a good wind inward on the fjord, past the villages of Oppedal and Ikjefjord. After a while, the wind increased, and the Hotel Manager felt that the boat started moving too fast. The boat took in water and turned so much that he started getting scared.

“I started regretting not doing as boat builder Øyvind Hatlevoll said, using rocks to weigh down the bottom of the boat.”

The mast and sail were raised incorrectly, and the ropes were too short, so he could not slow down when the situation demanded it. Ultimately, he had to release the ropes for fear of capsizing the boat.

“The sail and ropes fluttered every which way. I was disheartened and insecure, so I tried to find a quiet dock.

He steered toward Massnes, assuming it would be calmer around the cape. Suddenly, however, the boat took matters into its own hands and started going straight for land. Eggum tried to steer with the oar, eventually righting the boat and making his way around the cape. (The Sognefjord is known for treacherous winds that seafarers in sailboats often have experienced.)

“It must have been a katabatic wind coming from another direction. Or, maybe I totally lost control, but I choose to believe that a katabatic wind surprised me.”

Safely moored at Massnes
Moored for the night at Massnes
Camping at Mossnes

He found a nice, quiet place to moor his boat and stepped onto land. But he slipped on the hills and fell into the sea. Luckily, he had an inflatable life jacket. He lay floating and splashing in the water before making it to land.

He had brought an extra life jacket and a fresh set of clothes and fastened a canvas camping tarp to a tree. Luckily, it started raining really severely. He didn’t sleep much that night, so he was up and rowing early. He didn’t dare set sail, rowing inward on the fjord’s south side.

“I did as planned, following the current inward. The wind was behind me, so it went pretty well.” 

Eggum made it to the village of Ortnevik and found Brekke Cabins. He didn’t want to camp outside, and Brekke Cabins’ standard was perfect. He had a nice chat with retired farmer Anders Brekke, who had knowledge of and experience with the Sognefæring.

“There was a sculpture park, with small rivers and big wooden animals made with a chainsaw. There was also a stave church and the farm’s power plant.”

The day after, he started toward the Arnafjord. This proved to be a proper workout in terms of big waves and a choppy sea. (Because of the fjord arms and curves in the main fjord, the distance Finnebotten—Vangsnes is known for heavy seas and streams.

Arrival in Ortnevik
Departure from Ortnevik
The view from Brekke Cabins in Ortnevik
The dock at Ligtvor
Safely moored by Leidulv Finden’s fishing boat in Vik

“I can’t say I enjoyed myself then either. A man on a glorious sailboat from New Zealand without any sails approached me and asked me if I was okay. My answer, of course, was that everything was fine. Luckily, I eventually made it to an anchoring spot called Kaldagjelet.”

What now, though? He didn’t want to sleep outside, but luckily, Leidulf Finden had heard of the land crab’s endeavour and wanted to look out for him because of the choppy sea. Finden was Egon Moen’s former colleague in the bank. Moen called Eggum and put him in touch with Finden.

“I called to ask about any option to moor and stay the night in the Arnafjord. He immediately offered me accommodation, told me where to moor my boat and picked me up in his car. “

In Finden’s home, Eggum got his own room, showered, and ate. The next day, he rowed inward toward Vangsnes. The sea was just as choppy, and he didn’t enjoy himself. There was no point in rowing; he just had to keep a steady course with the help of his oars. He passed the cape at Ligtvor, where he docked at a pretty wharf. The struggle with the oars had taken its toll. Eggum was afraid that the wooden oar locks would be ruined. He called Finden and asked him to bring fresh ones. Finden did what he asked but saw that his current ones would hold for a long time.

Finden must have seen that Eggum had had a rough day and offered him accomodation for another night, plus monkfish for dinner. Eggum couldn’t say no to that and got the guest room. 

His voyage continued toward the ferry slip at Vangsnes. There, he tried raising his sails but didn’t quite manage to because of the wind. Then came the ferry.

«I just had to wait it out and hope I was right. I couldn’t move out of the way and hope they would see me on the ferry. I mean, I thought I was right, but I couldn’t be totally sure. Mulling this over made me anxious to determine if I was right or wrong.”

The crew on the ferry noticed the seafarer and backed the ferry up, making the entire ferry shake. The Hotel Manager breathed a sigh of relief and wriggled his way past and further inward. He located a quiet bay and raised his sail there. Then it was smooth sailing toward Feios. But it wasn’t to be that easy.

Eggum used one hand to steer the sail and the other was on the helm, while the rope was coiled around his foot. Suddenly, cramps shook his entire body. His thoughts wandered to his great-grandfather’s brother. He was getting married and sailed to Balestrand to pick up his wedding suit. On his way back to Feios, his boat capsized, and he drowned.

“I admit that I thought about that for a while, then. But I sent my great-grandfather some thoughts and asked him to help me get further inward on the fjord.

He made it safely to Feios and a nice dock there. (Previously, it was a regular dock for several local jekts (a local boat called Sognejekt), including the one belonging to his great-grandfather.) A kind shop owner drove him back and forth to Vangsnes, where he spent the night. 

Painting of Sognejekt. It hangs at the guest house in Vangsnes.
Vangsnes taproom. Often visited by the crew on the old local jects, the Sognejekt
The hosts at the guest house told stories of how the local jekts had been docked in Vangsnes, waiting for the right winds to sail back to Bergen. The winds were few and far between, and the taproom made good money from visiting sailors. (See picture)
The grand mansion belonging to the Rumohr family in Frønningen
Docked in Ofredal

Further inward, a proper wind blew up as he passed Fresvik, and the boat started taking in water again. The wind brought him inward, his sails in complete disarray. In a cove between Hønsaneset and Gagelsneset, he managed to calm himself for a bit. It was quiet as he passed Gagelsneset, but he made it to Frønningen, where he contacted Wilhelm Rumohr, the owner of the estate Frønningen. Rumohr was in Leikanger but would make his way home. He arranged housing for Eggum in the meantime.

“Rumohr served me cake and fruit wine at the main house when he arrived.” 

Further inward, he met with Per Haugen in a Lister boat in Kaupanger. The wind started blowing, and they positioned the boats next to each other as they raised the sails. Then they had a fun boat race, and the Sognefaelinng floated so easily that the Lister boat was left behind in its wake.

“Sailing is lovely when you’re in control.”

They arrived at Strendene, where they met with Antok Kjærvik, who offered them food and drinks. The next day, they went to Ofredal, where they were met with flags and Norwegian waffles.

Then, they had enough sustenance for the rest of the voyage to Årdal, where they were met by Egon Moen and 10-15 others who were waving Norwegian flags to salute them.

“They cheered as we arrived; it was a nice welcome.”

Later, Eggum transported the boat to Ornes, where they set it up correctly so he wouldn’t get cramps on his next voyage.

Now, he’s hoping that his hotel guests and others would like to take the opportunity to sail in a real Sognefæring. 

The marvellous establishment “Ne’fø Sjøen,” by the sea,” in Ofredal. Here are 10-12 nicely restored buildings, including a water-powered mill and a sawmill
Per Haugen’s Lister boat just outside Holm before Kaupanger
Safely docked outside Klingenberg Hotel

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