Thursday 15 September 2011

Alstahaug and Vega

The Expedition Team at Alstahaug
(Photo © Joe Decker)
We are now south of the Arctic Circle.  We passed that significant point of latitude at 05:00 this morning.  Most of us were sleeping rather soundly.  About three hours later we arrived at Alstahaug a borough of approximately 7500 people spread over 917 islands and islets.  The landscape has changed from the high, craggy fjords of Raftsundet to many low lying islands.  
Inside the church in Alstahaug where Petter Daas the poet parson
worked.  (Photo © Joe Decker)
There isn't a pier for Fram in Alstahaug which meant of course that we would use the trusty Polar Cirkel boats to tender everyone in.  A light rain was falling when we arrived and continued on and off throughout the landing.  The stop here featured an old church which we could visit and the Petter Dass museum.
The church is one of only seven Northern Norwegian medieval churches that been preserved.  The church's initial construction was in the year 1200.  the oldest parts of the church are built in the Romanesque style with soapstone.
The Petter Daas museum in Alstahaug (Photo © Joe Decker)
Petter Daas was the parson poet that lived and worked in Alstahug from 1689 until his death in 1707. The museum was not open  but the building itself was a marvellous piece of architecture and the installation of the building quite a feat of engineering. 
The bucolic setting was very peaceful. Sheep grazed in a nearby field.  Glaucous Gulls soared along the sea side and Hooded Crows called back and forth.   One felt restful just being there.  It was easy to see where the great poet got some of his inspiration.
In the afternoon we stopped at the small community of Vega.  A light rain was falling as we rode the Polar Cirkel boats to a pier in a small marina.  Many people went on a motor coach tour to learn about the unique relationship between the Eider Ducks and generations of fishermen/farmers.  Over the last 1500 years the local people have harvested eider down.
There are 6500 islands in the Vega Archipelago.  These islands have a relaxing beauty that is quite different from the dramatic fjords we experienced earlier in the voyage.  Vega itself is a sleepy little community.  If you didn't choose to go on one of the local excursions there was a pleasant walk which led through the marina around the community and back to the pier again.   
At 20:00 we lifted anchor and once again turned our bow to the south.