Espevaer for ever
Leaving Haugesund behind us, we motored north into a diminished force 3 breeze, thinking we would head perhaps for an inland anchorage on the way to Leirvik. However, after discussion of the diving, we thought the undersea life might well be better on the more exposed westerly sites, so looked for anchorages on the west coast of the large island called Bomlo which runs up towards Bergen. A small archipelago called Espevaer attracted our attention because it had it’s own small blown up chartlet and an attractive aerial photo in the pilot book. It was just as nice as it sounded, with welcome signs on the visitors quay, a superb new Ifo toilet and shower, a well-stocked shop and friendly locals.
None of the said locals seemed to be “life, Jim, though not as we know it”, even though a UFO landing had been recorded on the main island some years ago. They say the ring of grass in the meadow where it landed still doesn’t grow like it should…. We had to go and investigate! The macadamed paths on the island were just wide enough for quad bikes and not much else. They led us to some front doors and just as we were thinking we had taken a wrong turn, they carried on a bit further. However, soon the path became a proper footpath and then a serious scramble down a rocky track back to just above sea-level. Purple heather, wild flowers, bog cotton and the softest grass kaleidescoped together with the other magic components of rock, sea, sky and pines to give superb views that made me want to keep my camera continuously shooting. Of the UFO site? Well, yes, there is a ring in the grass which is not very lush, but maybe you should check out http://home.tiscali.no/oask1/ufo if you really want to know about it.
Monday dawned bright and sunny, so we chose a dive site with a bright and sunny disposition. Litle Klovningen (the small rock just to the west of Stor Klovningen – see you’re speaking Norwegian already) was dived on first by Chas and JK and later by JG and Frank. We all saw angler fish, though none got photographed, one of us saw the Scottish variety of squat lobster with the long claws (only the one that went to the bottom at 50m), some saw hundreds of yellow and white nudibranchs feeding in the kelp and various crabs were brought to the surface only to be released again as there were not really big enough for the pot.
After dive 3 of the day we went into the less populated inner loch and tried throwing warps over ‘ankringbolter’ while we noisily blew the tanks yet again. JG showed his skills by getting a loop over it at only the third try, while Franks’s suggestion of using the spinnaker pole to drop the loop in position was declared too technical and not tested fully.
Getting low on tonic for the gin meant we had to stay a second night so we could go shopping in the morning. To fill in time before the shop opened at 09:30 we did a first dive before breakfast while Bob had a stroll ashore. Frank and JK plumbed the depths, through the shoals of Pollack to find a couple of 50m scallops (only) and another adolescent crab. Then we shopped and left for points north, finding an interesting island a few miles further on where the island’s edge dropped directly to depths of 80m or more. Chas and JG dived that one then we went a bit further and the first pair had a second dive, once again finding sheets of glaciated rock dropping to substantial depths, with multi-coloured sponges at shallow depths giving way to barer rock as we went further down. The water below 40m was really clear, but of course we couldn’t stay long at such depths. We overnatted at Hiskjo on anchor in a calmish but drizzly evening and today has been another lovely bright day during which we did another 3 spectacular dives on walls, canyons, crevices and kelp beds. Now we are back at Espevaer on our way south, since we have an unfavourable weather forecast for Thursday and Friday and think we should get back into familiar waters before the gales begin.
Memo: scallops Voltair…. Heat 1 tblspnful coconut milk in frying pan to almost boiling. Add 2 plump diver plucked 50m scallops, with coral and cook for 60 secs. Add half a tsp of pernod. Cook a further 60 secs and serve immediately.
We haven’t tested it yet with larger qties, but hope to do so on Friday when we stop diving these ridiculous walls with no bottoms!
Pollack Voltair: Cut skinless goujons from the plump breasts of Pollack fresh from the sea. Coat in seasoned cumin, coriander and turmeric flour and then dip in a light but eggy batter and fry in garlic oil till golden. Serve with a glass of Sauv blanc. This was voted the best of several variations we tried yesterday, though the basic fresh fish in unseasoned batter and garlicked oil was also remarkably good. Chas’ photos of these lipsmackin dishes not available at this time!