november 6 - 12. november 2023
Every autumn, large schools of herring migrate into our north Norwegian coast. They come to spend the winter in our fjords, and after them follow the whales; orcas and humpbacks. Together the whales and herring will wreak havoc in the fjords all winter long, and we want to bring you along to experience this ecstatic chaos! In addition to this feast in the sea, the magical light is perhaps the most special thing about these trips in the winter season. The special arctic winter light will offer us the craziest #nofilter experiences all day long, and it’ll be hard to put your camera down! So bring your double woolen long johns (a little Norwegian secret to staying warm in the winter!) and get ready for this raw and honest trip during the arctic winter! We will sail a full week from Tromsø to Skjervøy and Northern Troms, to hopefully find the winter feeding grounds of the whales!
This is a trip for those of you who want to sail along the rawest and most alpine coastline of Norway during the harshest time of year, looking for whales and northern lights. Winter sailing offers beautiful light and colors, where we often get hour-long sunraise/-set light all day long. On the boat we are far from street lights and other forms of light pollution, so we have the best potential to get the best view of the dancing northern lights that will hopefully join us as well!
We sail from Tromsø, and spend a week along the coast of North-Troms, around Skjervøy and Kvænangen. Where we will search for whales and northern lights, and hope to sail under the blazing auroras by night and together with the orcas and humpbacks by day! We also fill our adventure with bonfire on the beach, fishing in the fjords, and smal trips and landings on the remote coast we sail along. You will also learn a lot about sailing, the sea, and the areas we sail through.
On this trip we try to spend some days playing with the orcas and humpback whales which gather every year along the coast of Troms, where they feed on the herring that comes into the fjords. For many years we’ve found the whales around the fjords outside of Kvaløya, but in recent years they have gathered further north, around Skjærvøy. The weather forecast for the week, and location of the herring, will determine where we search for the whales.
As on all our trips you don’t need to know how to sail to participate, and you will learn alot about sailing along the way. If you are a skilled sailor you will be challenged and trusted, and if you are a beginner you will learn a lot. This is a perfect chance for those of you who want to test out winter sailing, learn more about nighttime navigation, and sail under the different wind- and weather conditions the winter season offers. If you only want to join an unforgettable trip and sail during the arctic winter, you are very welcome aboard as well!
Our experienced skipper will make sure you get a safe and memorable experience, and our co-skipper will contribute with knowledge about the areas we sail through and the sea. As part of our crew you get the chance to try out all aspects of sailing: at the helm, hoisting the sails, making food under sail, navigating, taking a morning swim, gutting fish, serving “anchor drinks”, tying knots etc.; the complete sailing experience!
On this trip we will use our sailing boats Humla and Bien. Pictures and more information about these boats can be found here.
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: Arrival and sail towards Kvalsundet
Welcome aboard! We meet at the dock in Tromsø at 16:00, settle in the sailboat and get to know each other. Before we hoist our sails we get familiar with the boat and go through safety instructions on board. We check the latest weather forecast and plan the route for the week, before we cast off towards Kvaløya and Kvalsundet. On the way we will train on boat-handling, man-overboard drills and other emergency situations.
Day 2: Sailing day to Rebbenesøy and Vannøya
We wake up on our first morning on the adventure, who takes the first morning swim? After breakfast we sail further around Ringvassøy in this great archipelago on the brim of the Barents Sea! We pass by Gåsvær, which is a good place for a landfall and leg-stretch. For the night we aim for a suitable anchorage or harbor at Rebbenesøy or Vannøya. Maybe we will catch our own fish for dinner today?
Day 3: Looking out for the herring and the whales
Large schools of herring come in here to the coast of Northern-Troms to feed during the winter. And it’s these fish that attracts the humpbacks and killer whales, in addition to lots of fishing vessels and tourist ships. We got a whoel week for our adventure, and will look for the herring and whales, also the less popular places. Today we explore the areas around Vannøya and Arnøya before we end up around Kvænangen and Skjærvøy for the night.
Day 4: Kvænangen and Spildra
We will head out early enough today to reach the spawning grounds of the herring during our few hours of daylight and hopefully get some encounters with the whales! Later, we sail to the roadless island of Spildra. Where around 20 people still keep up the activity with fishing, farming and tourism on this historically important island. Hopefully some of the local islanders here will also open their small pub for us tonight!
Day 5: 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 6: 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 sailing around the Lyngen peninsula on our way back to Tromsø. Hopefully reaching the city not too late, we aim to have our last meal and a well deserved beer on land!
Day 7: Goodbye for now.
If all goes after plan we only need to wake up, pack and tidy and clean ourselves out of the boat and disembark in Tromsø city center this morning. Anyways if we have to sail during the night, we will be in Tromsø i time for the trip end latest at 10.00am. You will leave with your heart full of unforgettable memories and new friends. Savour this feeling and welcome onboard next time!
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?
You only pay 6000NOK when booking the trip, the rest of the payment are due 60 days before departure.
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!
The Nordlandsbanen train line goes all the way to Bodø, and can be taken overnight from Trondheim or Oslo. This is a great way to travel and a beautiful journey from southern Norway. For timetables and prices see www.vy.no. If you live along the coast, the speed ferries or Hurtigruta are possible options either northbound or southbound. Another option is a flight to Bodø, and there are some reasonable tickets.
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 a trip for all photography and nature lovers! In terms of sailing, this trip is not very difficult, but sailing in the winter gives an extra challenging dimension to it all. You must also be prepared for both calm winds and sailing in harsher weather. If you are a beginner, we want 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?
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.