november 22 - 26. november 2023
The feeling of sailing underneath the dancing northern lights accompanied only by the sound of wind and waves, is hard to describe in words. On this trip, we hope to give you the experience of this feeling. Onboard our comfortable expedition vessel Valiente, between the majestic peaks of Lyngen and northern Troms.
Northern Norway, and especially the area around Tromsø, is the epicentre for the famous Aurora Borealis, and we will sail straight into the middle of the Aurora’s stage. From Tromsø to Lyngen, Skjervøy, Ringvassøy and Reinfjord, we will visit historical fishing settlements, anchorages and small harbours free from light pollution, and sail underneath the alpine snow-covered peaks that plunge into the sea.
We will aim for the parts of these northern fjords which the herring call their winter home. These schools of small fish attract huge predators; orcas and humpback whales. As the whales come to our coast to feed, they will most easily be found where the herring are. Over the past few years, the main wintering area of the herring has moved from Tromsø to Skjervøy, but nobody knows exactly where the feeding frenzy will take place this year. Luckily we are ready to spend the necessary time at sea to get to wherever the whales and herring are!
The winter months up here in the North are characterized by the polar night, where the sun rises above the horizon only briefly each day, if at all. This is not only a good thing for catching the Aurora, but it also makes all the light we actually get during the day super beautiful. Imagine a day with three hours of continuous sunrise/sunset among some of the most stunning landscapes our beautiful coastline has to offer!
Along the way we will also have bonfires on the beach, catch our own fish for dinner, and do some hiking on land.
To be well-prepared for the Arctic winter we will use the proudness of our fleet; our sturdy and comfortable 70 feet expedition yacht Valiente. More info and pictures of the boat can be found here. The boat has enough space and privacy to make you feel at home, and sufficient power to charge all cameras and gadgets. On board Valiente everybody will find ideal spots to rest and tune into the pure and honest nature surrounding us.
Our skipper onboard knows all the secret anchorages for night-skygazing, fun facts about the whales, and the folktales about the Aurora.
As with all our trips, you will get to learn how to sail along the way, and join in on all tasks onboard. Our professional skipper is no stranger to sailing in the Arctic winter and is keen to show you the ropes. Whether this is your first trip on a sailboat or you’re already an experienced seafarer, you are bound to be challenged by sailing the rough Norwegian Sea in the polar darkness! Don’t feel like spending every day out in the cold wind and snow? That’s no problem. Keeping the rest of the crew warm and happy with a hot chocolate can also be an essential task on an expedition like this.
The whole trip was a truly great experience! It was awesome to go without knowing anybody, and meet a group of so lovely people. The skippers were incredibly skilfull, and they always smiled. For me, who's never been north of Trondheim it was really big to experience this raw landscape, the northern light and come so close on to the whales. SailNorway delivered a great and raw experience, which I will take with me for the rest of my life!
Day 1: Welcome on board!
We meet in the harbor of Tromsø at 15:00. We will get to know each other and the boat. The crew will talk you through the vessel, safety routines onboard, and we will go through the program for the week. We aim to leave Tromsø that evening making way through Grøtsundet and have a beautiful view of the Lyngen Alps - bound for Skjervøy. We spend a bit of the night underway, hoping to start the trip with some northern lights!
Day 2: Set sail towards the whales and the roadless fishing village of Reinfjord
After an exciting night of Aurora-hunting and hopefully some restful sleep, we have an easy start and set sail after a good breakfast. We aim to approach the spawning grounds of the herring and may see our first whales! Later, we sail to the roadless village of Reinfjord, where they have a long history with fishing, and where we also spend the night. Maybe we will also manage to catch our own fish for dinner this afternoon?
Day 3: Whales, the Lyngen Alps and sauna night
Not possible to sail through the Alps you say? This is the day where we’ll prove you wrong, with a sail through the Lyngen Alps. This part of Norway offers spectacular fjords, sounds, and mountains where your eyes will never be satisfied and want to see more - more - more of this. After a good day of alpine sailing, hopefully with more whale sightings, we will dock at the pier of the famous Hamnes Handlested on Uløya. Here they have heated up the sauna and jacuzzi for us so all is set for a swim in the sea underneath the stars!
Day 4: The magical winter season light
The best part of this season here in the North is the shifting and always beautiful light. Even though we don't see the sun much here in winter, the light we actually get is often like an everlasting dawn and dusk! Perfect for great pictures and landscape views. We will spend our last full day together exploring the archipelago north of Tromsø, where we aim to have a landfall, hike, and enjoy a bonfire on the beach. We anchor away from the city lights, around Ringvassøya or Kvaløysundet, for our last night - hopefully with an Aurora-show in the sky!
Day 5: Return to Tromsø, and goodbye for now
Unfortunately this is the day when you’ll pack your bags and get ready to disembark. After breakfast, we sail for a couple of hours back to Tromsø after breakfast and arrive back in Tromsø just after lunch. The trip will end at 15.00 at the latest. You will leave Valiente with your heart full of unforgettable memories and some new friends. Savour this feeling!
The program should be seen as a rough itinerary that we can adapt to the weather and conditions. We also reserve the right to change and improve our itineraries. We will have a dinghy for beach trips and small expeditions, fishing gear for cod, and gear to hike or make bonfires on the beach on all our trips - we are ready for adventure! Are you?
Deposit and payment
You pay a 6000NOK deposit when you book the trip, and the rest of the payment is due 60 days before the trip begins.
Travel - In general
Sometimes we have to fly, but not always. If you have the luxury of time, we always encourage you to travel as environmentally friendly as possible. Traveling slowly also allows you to start your holiday in a special way. Cycling, taking the train, or driving a car together can be good options! Feel free to add some extra time before and after your trip, since up north the weather can be unpredictable and might affect your plans!
Travel - Tromsø
The fastest option for getting to or from Tromsø is to fly. But if you have time to travel slowly we recommend doing that instead. Taking Hurtigruten south from Tromsø to Bodø and train from there is one option.
Safety and risk - In general
We take safety seriously and on our trips we train on handling different situations that can occur at sea. On board a boat and on trips, everyone must know what to do in potentially dangerous situations. For us it is important that you as a guest and participant are trained quickly enough to be a participant - not a passenger. It contributes to learning, a sense of achievement, and increased safety for all. It's also why our trips are considered to be sailing courses: you are trained to be one of the crewmembers on board. Feel free to contact us to discuss risk.
Level of this trip
This is our most accessible winter trip, for anyone interested in wildlife and spectacular scenery! In terms of sailing, this trip is not very difficult, and we mostly stay in protected waters throughout the voyage. You still need to be prepared for both calm winds and sailing in harsher weather. If you are a beginner, we will try to make you a seaman/ woman as soon as possible, and if you are experienced, you will quickly get responsibilities and greater challenges.
As with all activities, there is plenty of specialized equipment and clothing for sailing. If you do not have any of this, you can use regular hiking/skiing/mountain clothing. What you need is something waterproof and windproof on the outside, and warm, layered with clothes underneath. For winter sailing, the most important thing to remember is to have enough air in between the layers of clothing. So bring spacious clothes and shoes, preferably a couple sizes too large, and plenty of wool! We will send you a detailed recommended packing list in good time before departure.
Food and cooking
On our trips you will be part of the crew onboard and get the chance to participate in all aspects of the running of the sailboat. This includes the cooking, where everyone is taking turns in the galley! Skippers and guides assist as much as they can along the way. Before the trip we set up a menu and purchase what is needed. We offer good menus with healthy “boat friendly” food. If you have allergies or preferences, let us know in the registration form and we will take that into account. During the trip, we often sail by a good restaurant or two where we stop and eat.
What we expect from you
We want you to take part in the routines onboard the sailboat, whether it is sailing, docking, navigating, looking for whales and icebergs, washing up, cooking, cleaning the boat, or contributing in other ways when required. Our trips require a little work of the participants - and you must be open to contribute and open up a bit socially. We have many different people with us on our trips, and most people get along very well. Our experience is that doing things with others out in nature, and not least doing things with new people with different personalities than one might be used to, is what creates the best, most interesting and memorable stories :)
Life on board and accommodation
Life on board a sailboat is social and pleasant, but for some it can be perceived as quite intimate and crowded, which one should be prepared for. On our trips everyone participates in the operation of the sailboat and everyone is considered crew. We would like to get to know you well and hope that you will get to know everyone else on the boat as soon as possible. It requires some patience, generosity, and an open mind to thrive, but the new acquaintances and completely raw nature experiences will take your focus as soon as you become comfortable with life at sea.
Accommodation on the boat is part of the fun. The accommodation is generally in shared cabins, some of which have a double bed and some of which have bunk beds. Figuring out who sleeps where can be a bit of a puzzle, but we do believe we’ve gotten quite good at it. Let us know if you have any special needs or reservations. You must arrange any accommodation before and after the trip on your own. If you have any doubts about where to stay, we’re happy to give you some recommendations.
We have plenty of heating and good food on the boat, but not always abundance of fresh water. This means it will not be possible to shower every day, but more or less every other day we are either in a harbor with fresh water or we sail through a place where we can borrow showers or enjoy a sauna. And a morning swim in the sea is always available all year round!
What kind of people join this trip - and how many will we be on board?
Many come alone, some travel as couples, and others travel as a group of friends. The common denominator for everyone is that these are fun and interesting people you will become friends with almost no matter what. Sharing grand experiences creates strong ties! Many people wonder about the age composition of our trips, but this isn’t so important to us. It doesn't matter if you are young or old as long as you want to go on a trip and intend to do your part in making this a great trip for everyone. The number of participants varies from trip to trip. If we have many participants, we will expand with more boats and skippers.
Environment and sustainability
In general sailing is an environmentally friendly activity,, and we sail as much as we can and use the engine as little as possible. We encourage crew and participants to travel as environmentally-friendly as possible, and we use local ingredients and resources as much as we can. We also run trips where we collect litter and clean ocean trash from beaches.
Philosophically, we often say that sailing is an exercise in sustainability: we move with the wind and we have limitations on things like water, diesel, electricity and food. In order to run sustainably, knowledge, patience, flexibility, and hard work are required. The same can be said about many other things that one tries to do in a sustainable way.