Fjord Falcon & The Sleeping Dragon
FJORD FALCON & the Sleeping Dragon
Story By Beau Foster
Photos by Rod Owen
Video trailer above by TRVL - WATCH FULL VIDEO HERE
The wind howls over mountains, through fjords and down onto our pale cold faces as I force my left-hand glove on with Asher’s help. The air is two degrees, and the rubber's rigid, but the Norwegians don't seem fussed, as they carry on with their daily routines. Hoddevik holds a population of maybe twenty in a cluster of houses each with its own unique character, surrounded by cliffs on either side of the beach. It’s a cosy, quiet farming village of Viking descendants. The Norwegians are a particular bunch; intelligent and witty, conservative, resourceful and fairly shy. But they'll come round after a beer or two.
It’s 9am and I call Asher; he's late. Forty minutes till departure. Twenty-five hours later we reach Olso.
The descent is a white glow into snow covered paddocks. The snow blinds out the city.
We hail a cab and force two oversize board bags and camera gear into what you would call a semi-yuppie car, with our heads squished in the middle of it. Ten minutes later we’re at the ferry dock. It ain't warm, it ain't cold – it’s ice, and the scenery has us spun. I’m wired on these white mountains, with patch brown rocks. We enjoy these scenes for 30 minutes onboard the ferry.
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At the dock we exchange evening greetings with a tanned Norwegian fella in a faded blue mini van. His mustache bristles in the wind. We gaze in exhaustion as he loops an old bit of rope around our board bags pulling it tight and tying a series of knots. Maads, is his name.
A passionate bloke, Maads is an intellectual and a soon to be father. He drives us to town, across dangling edges of a roadside cliff, up, down and around the mountain hills. A rare scene 'til nightfall as the wind howls.
At Sunrise, we’re pulling on our boots and gloves. The sun lies in hope of a breach. Snow capped cliffs funnel a strong offshore into the sea and we paddle out with no wax. Asher’s on a 5'3” twin fin. It’s a three foot right of straightish novelty. Forgetting the wax is a slight slip and we laugh in the moment. Not what we were expecting, but it was something. Hot shower… Are there any hot showers here, really? On this day, Maads becomes a father sooner than expected. His wife has a baby girl and he takes off on the next flight. Before Maads leaves, he manages to show us his sheep farm, a twenty-acre block on a western side of the inlet. There’s a rickety old Nordic barn at the back. Maads tells us it was once an abattoir.
It's a warm five degrees as clouds cover the sun and we're off to find the waves of our imagination. Driving in awe, I put myself behind the wheel, up and down and through the fjords. Past deer, past frozen lakes. Our nordic mates, Johnny, Maads and Joey, drew us up some sort of map, pointing out a few locations where I'm sure we’ll find something, with the right swell. We clock up the kays, past the bright and cold bays of a simple life for some, in their easy and unravaged boat-builder towns.
These towns are religious. The Irish-Catholics settled here in early 900AD. Each town harbours the ancestral past in lonely cemeteries; a history irrelevant to most children brought up in the last twenty years here. Most of the young have moved to the cities, leaving the elderly to run the towns and farming in fading tradition.
Torquil, the founder of Stadsurfcamp, is a thin, 6'5” pale skinned, proud Norwegian fellow from Oslo. He's a qualified boat designer and builder and has been for 20 plus years. He came up to surf in the late 80s, bought a house in the 90s and hasn't left. He's a man of the land and wise to the heritage. He is proud of his home and believes the youth of the region should remain here and create a more sustainable living environment, but alas, they are elsewhere, studying or working in places like Oslo and other European cities.
The waves are scarce in these deep coves. Almost a wave… So close. Asher and I find a little peak in front of a church, parallel to a graveyard. In the Southern end of the bay lies an old Nazi bunker from World War II. The location is so remote, you'd be sure it hasn't changed since first settlement. The residents walk the street with their children and dogs, well-dressed and friendly enough.
Beers are available on weekdays only. Slightly confusing, but there aren’t any pubs around anyway. Instead, we hit the snow fields, a town or two away and it’s closing as we arrive, thanks to St Patricks Day. We drop Maads' name, hoping they may open up. He’s well known around the area and the fact we’re staying with him gets us the green light. We trek up the mountain on the heavy-duty t-bars. Asher is dragged up on his arse, making it 3/4 of the way. I don’t get much further, and we’re both in hysterics. The day is clear, the powder thick. We fly down the mountain, snow in our eyes.
The night catches up. Dinner is pasta, bread, and duty-free whiskey. After a few, we walk outside and gaze up at our great prediction – the Aurora Borealis, with its subtle green light dancing above the horizon. Beers in hand, we stroll the beach with a half moon dimming the northern lights. We watch the colours change from green to purple and a patch of red. A must see before you die.
The days mold into another. There’s still snow on the mountains, though melting fast, as the days get sunnier. Torquil mentioned a few weary words about a wave in the middle of two fjords. He spoke about Vikings crashing their ships into this bombora, of fallen men and spirits from long ago.
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We need to find a decent sized boat. It’s mid-morning and low tide. From the cliffside, you can see the wave about 40 kilometers away. We check the binos and decide to head out. Asher cracks a lunchtime beer – room temps fine. Torquil made it clear that the monks own a boat. We arrive after lunch, knock on the yellow door he mentioned and wait. Nothing… No answer. What to do? Where to go? Some local fisherman say they would take us out but their captain is ill. Uncertainty clears as we convince this 89-year-old captain to take us out on his 18-foot boat for $200. He’s as intrigued as we are to see this wave. The tide comes in and the boat moves. The scenery is bliss.
The wave is a deep moving wall of water into a shallow reef that peaks into a right further inside. The Norwegians name for these two reefs are 'dragon falls' and 'dragon skulls'. The wave breaks slow in the stiff offshore in a case of "could have been good." The ocean is eerie, and we're far from shore. Hope is shunned – time to crack a tinny. We make it back to the dock.
It’s time to depart from the hibernation of this brisk farming town. With no waves on the radar, we choose to fly across the equator to warmer waters. We leave Hoddevik on Monday morning, stopping in Oslo for a night to see a few pubs and taste the city. Expensive beers and food, but worth it all the same. Later, we’re in a football pub with a bunch of old fellas necking shots, only to crash at midnight then fly out the next day on a three-day mission. 72 hours of pain ’til our next destination.
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