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Norway 2018

Submitted by admin on Tue, 07/17/2018 - 09:52
Wreck of the Oldenburg

I was on Valkyrie in Scapa back at the end of 2016 when they had started planning to do trips to Norway, so I booked myself on Valhalla for July 2018. The only direct flight to Bergen was with Norwegian. After I'd paid for 40kgs of luggage, it was just over £200 return booked a long time in advance. A group of us organised to meet to get a minibus taxi into town and to the quayside where the boats were tied up. Between all of us, it wasn't so bad. An individual taxi would cost at least £50.

Growth on wreck

Food was included on the boat from Sunday until Friday, but Saturday we needed to fend for ourselves. Everything is very expensive in Norway. Expect to pay about twice what you would in the UK for everything except coffee. Drinks are more than double. A burger and chips plus a 0.4l beer in the centre costs somewhere in the region of £28. Beer in the supermarket ranged from £2.50-£3.50 a can, so it wasn't too prohibitive to get some for the boat. However, government restrictions mean that you can't buy it after 8pm on a weekday, after 6pm on a Saturday or at all on a Sunday, so you need to plan ahead. You also do not seem to be able to buy so much as an antacid or aspirin in a supermarket, so you need to be prepared before the boat leaves.

I didn't take any Norwegian money for my entire stay, Everywhere takes credit cards, even the public toilets which were 10 NOK had a contactless card reader on them.

We set off after breakfast on the Sunday and the first dive was The Spring. This was a cargo ship that was damaged in a collision. They tried to run it aground in the small cove but the side of the fjord i a steep cliff and that's where it came to rest. The top is in about 10m, the prop is in about 45m though there is some more wreckage deeper than that which has fallen off and slid down the wall. The wreck is covered in sea squirts and there were a lot of flat fish about, but not much in the way of other fish or crabs or lobsters. The water temperature was 9C at depth, which is warmer than most of the sites which were 8C, though the shallows were 12C, which did make the deco stops a bit more pleasant.

Next up was the Haakon which sits upright in about 45m. The decks have all rotted away leaving just struts, so you can swim thorough much of it. The prop is still attached and there's a spare one located inside.

Lion's Man jellyfish

That night we moored up in Fedje, where there was a cafe/bar which stopped serving at 8pm and a shop. The self operated chain ferry was fun though. The next morning and we went to do the Ferndale and Parat. The Ferndale was a bulk carrier which has been requisitioned by the Germans and hit the island of Sejlsteinen during a night convoy in 1944. The Parat was a tug sent to rescue it the following day but they were both attacked with rocket fire by the RAF and sank. Today the Ferndale lies against the steep wall starting at around 10m and going down to about 40m. At this point, the slope is less steep and the Parat is lying in about 45m going down to 60m. I stuck to 45m and could see most of the Parat because of the excellent 20m viz. The Ferndale has a couple of holds that you can swim into and it's quite fun to swim under the bows were there's a lot of growth. Because it's next to a small island, you can ascend against the wall and there were some wrasse in the shallows hanging around in the kelp growth.

Then we sailed to Vadheim, a small village to do the Oldenburg. This is so close to the shore, it could be done as a shore dive. It was a German cargo ship sank by the RAF in July 1945. There's a small river coming into the fjord just by the wreck, so we jumped into practically fresh water sinking like a stone down the to wreck. The surface water was green and quite warm with limited visibility, but once on the wreck it was the usual 20+m. It's a big wreck and as we'd done a deep diver earlier, I stuck to 35m for this dive. There are some holds you can swim into, some flat fish on the top and less welcome, lion's mane jellyfish in the water.

Wreck of Oldenburg

We moored up on the quay in Vadheim which had a couple of shops and they were allowed to sell beer now it was Monday. The following morning, we did the Oldenburg again. This time, I saw more of it because I went to 45m. There was still plenty of wreck after that. The bottom is in 75m, I believe.

THat was the only dive of the day as we next sailed to overnight in Askvoll, which was a bigger town, had a couple of supermarkets and a bar/restuarant with a deck looking out over the marina and the fjord. Beer was about 75NOK for a 0.4l. The next two dives were on the Tyrifjord which was just round the corner from the town. It lies in about 37m and was sunk by allied bombing on 19 September 1944. The highlight of the wreck is the secondary steering wheel which is still on deck at the back, covered in long sea squirts and other life. I did two bottom times of 25 minutes and needed to do two dives to see everything. The 8C water was really the limiting factor on my dives.

That night we stayed in Askvoll again before doing two dives on the Frankenwald. This is probably the best wreck of them all, sitting upright in 45m. It was a German freighter which struck the rocks. See here for a magazine article on it. There are lots of swim throughs.You can go down narrow corridors on the deck with room either side. There are also places where the holds have rotted away, so you can get between them. There is a section of deck that has started to topple back, so I wasn't keen on getting underneath that bit. There was also a monkfish on the deck just by the shot line.

Rust and growth

That evening we moored up at a quay in the middle of nowhere. The next morning, our last dive was a return to the Ferndale and Parat. This time I used trimix and went down to the prop of the Parat in 60m. It was quite smashed up but it was nice to see the whole of the wreck this time. I came back up for the rest of my dive on the Ferndale and switched to 21% at 18m meaning I had no deco left by the time I came up to the top of the wreck.

Then it was the long steam back into Bergen. We stayed on the boat overnight and then I had a hotel for the Saturday night in Bergen before flying back on the Sunday. There is a castle to see and the old buildings of the Hanseatic league, but almost two days spent there was a bit too long, though it did allow me to safely offgas before the flight. I got the tram back to the airport, which was much cheaper. The train station has left luggage lockers for 50 NOK a day, so I left my stuff there as the Bergen Budget hotel had no facilities to leave luggage after checkout. They send you the combination for your key safe, so I didn't see an actual person during my stay.

It was a good trip. The weather was particularly kind, with most days sunny and temperatures in the mid-20s. The water was cold though, after a week you really start to notice it. Whilst there was often plankton in the shallows, the viz on the wrecks was always great.