Some four years ago I was tied up in the same harbour as we are today. But the circumstances where very different. Today I’m wearing shorts under a blue sky and the mountains that surround us only have small specs of snow. It is 15 degrees out. A very good summer in Northern Norway.
January 2017. A gale was blowing straight in to the harbour in Vengsøya. It was just past midnight, pitch dark and snowing hard. We docked the three sailboats in between local fishing boats, and found little rest from the howling wind the next five hours. Then we where at it again, heading further in to Kaldfjorden east of Tromsø. Just minutes later we heard the characteristic «phusch» in the dark next to the boat. A pack of orca whales was passing us close by. Drawing breath and steaming the same way as us: Towards the herring that had gathered in the fjord. They where not the only ones. Some 20-30 humpbacks, 50-60 orcas, a huge flock of seagulls and 6 fishing boats were also after the silver of the sea: Herring in the millions. And us. Three sailboats chasing one of natures big spectacles under white caped mountains in the dark polar night.
The magic in the North when the sun never rises during the winter months, is that you get a few hours around lunch time with soft light that reflects off the snow and sea.
Since witnessed the feeding frenzy in Kaldfjorden four years ago the herring has moved further East. Last winter they drew the whales to Skjærvøy. One explanation for the move is that the sea temperatures keep rising due to climate change.
The coming winter we will be out looking for whales and that magical light again. I can hardly wait. The NGO Gate to the Arctic aims to educate young Arctic Ambassadors about the pristine environment in the high North, and to be a platform for scientist, storytellers and photographers. We have a high latitude expedition boat located in the area, and are open for suggestions. Drop us a line.