Avid inflatable boat owner Peter Talbot tells PBR about touring over 250 miles in Norway’s Storfjorden and five of its side fjords. His adventure included cruising the famous Geirangerfjorden, recognized by UNESCO as ‘among the most scenically outstanding fjord areas on the planet’, boating alone in his Zodiac after unexpectedly finding himself without a crew …
news … I’m in hospital … Clearly won’t be seeing you tomorrow … I’m out of
action for six to eight weeks.’ Opening Tom’s email while waiting to board a
car ferry from Denmark to Norway, the news came like a bolt from the cloudless blue
sky above. Thoughts raced through my head. Had I misread it? Was Tom going to
be OK? What had happened? Then after that, I wondered how this would affect the
trip we’d planned together.
Newcastle three days earlier on an overnight car ferry to Amsterdam, then spent
two days driving to Hirtshals at the top of Denmark, via Holland and Germany, camping
near Hamburg, then Hirtshals. Tom had booked flights so we’d arrive in Oslo together
and drive north for just over a week’s boating. Following his accident, Tom was
now awaiting surgery on a torn bicep, and wouldn’t be fit to boat for some
time. Both disappointed, we wished each other well, saying we’d keep in touch.
lost the signal crossing the Skagerrak to Norway, I contacted those friends I
thought had the best chance of getting to Oslo in the next 36 hours, realising it
was a big ask.
boated and camped round Hardangerfjorden in my 3.1m Zodiac with my friend
Graeme (PBR Issue 124), I’d been keen
to return to Norway. Boasting the longest coastline of any European country, with
over a thousand fjords, I’d narrowed the almost limitless options by identifying
fjords regularly featuring on ‘most scenic’ lists. Examining those with some interconnectivity,
I was drawn to the large Storfjorden near Ålesund. Looking at the distribution
of campsites, access points and petrol stations, I’d spotted the centrally
located campsite at Stordal, complete with harbour, giving plenty of boating
options north and south. Having boated between campsites on ‘A to B’ journeys on
most previous trips, Tom (whom I’d boated with in Greenland – PBR Issue 140) and I had discussed the
benefits of using Stordal campsite as a base. The benefits of this over an ‘A
to B’ journey included: giving us options for varying weather, the chance to
revisit spectacular areas (rather than getting ‘one pass’) and not having to
carry the camping gear on board (making us lighter, with the time saved on setting
up/striking camp giving us more time afloat). Not having to retrieve the car left
at A once we’d got to B would likely give us a full day extra on the boat. As
well as day trips from Stordal, we’d have options for longer trips such as staying
overnight in Geiranger. Tom was only able to set aside just over a week, so as
I’d be in Norway for longer, I’d researched the campsite at Tingvollvågen on Tingvollfjorden
as an option to move to (by car) after Tom had left, if I wanted.
in Larvik on the ferry, I drove east to Drammen, negotiating my first ever underground
roundabout, in the city’s road tunnels, on the way to the campsite. Unsurprisingly,
my text messages had drawn a blank (interested parties were unable to get time
away at such short notice). I decided to head to Stordal, where my planning had
been focused, rather than Tingvoll.
Passing underneath Oslo’s centre through tunnels, I made good progress. The road was soon following rivers and lakes, through interconnecting valleys and north via Lillehammer (home to the 1994 Winter Olympics), Otta, Dombås, and then through the spectacular Romsdalen valley, which includes the famous Trollveggen (Troll Wall), and into Åndalsnes. It was then only an hour’s drive west to Stordal.
first morning in Stordal, after obtaining some local knowledge from Ilyas (the son
of the campsite owner), I launched and moored to the visitors’ pontoon in the
harbour. In bright sunshine, and with a good forecast, I filled the fuel tanks
at the village petrol station and set off for a shakedown cruise. Stordal
nestles on the east side of Storfjorden, in Stordalsvika Cove, which is about 1.5
miles long and 1 mile wide. After 10 minutes I was in Storfjorden proper, admiring
the spectacular all-round view for the first time. Deciding to limit this first
trip to two hours, I headed north thinking the few villages and the road along
the east/north shore would offer safe-haven options if needed. Passing Dyrkorn
(near where Storfjorden is deepest, at 2,228ft), I noticed the remote historic
farm of Ytste Skotet, high up across the fjord. After an hour, I crossed the 2
miles to the southern side, tracing it back under the shadow of the 500m hills.
Opposite Stordal, I passed a few remote houses/cabins on the hillside,
presumably holiday or weekend homes, some with pulley systems for getting
supplies up from jetties. Crossing back to Stordal gave impressive views south
towards Inner Storfjorden. Interestingly, on this 20-mile trip I’d counted only
seven boats out and about enjoying the fine weekend weather.
following day a stiffer westerly breeze was generating some chop in the centre
of the fjord, so I limited my boating to a 10-mile return trip to Dyrkorn. On
the way I saw salmon jumping in Storfjorden, adding to herons, oyster catchers,
swallows and pied wagtails I’d already seen in the area. The wind eased a
little the next day, so in continuing sunshine I decided to make my first trip
south towards the village of Stranda. Having crossed the fjord into a little
bit of swell, just past a fish farm I noticed what looked like a small
hydroelectric station and continued south with the wind on my back, keeping
fairly close in for calmer conditions. Assessing the conditions at Stranda, I
decided to continue south-east and cross into Norddalsfjorden. Looking south into
Sunnylvsfjorden as I crossed its mouth, I saw the route I hoped to take to
Geiranger at some point. Entering Norddalsfjorden, I passed the impressive rock
cliffs of Skrednakken and continued to the small village of Eidsdal, where three
car ferries were connecting road 63 across the mile and a half of fjord between
Eidsdal and Linge. After a quick look around, I crossed to the north side of
Norddalsfjorden, with a little wind on my nose, until Stranda, retracing my
route back to Stordal.
Having enjoyed three days afloat, and with the following day bringing the only rain forecast for the foreseeable future, I visited Ålesund (a one-hour drive away). The largest town in the county (population 47,000), Ålesund is built on a series of islands and is an important fishing port. As a result of the town having to be extensively rebuilt following a fire in 1904 that almost destroyed the wooden town in a single night, Ålesund has some of the best examples of art nouveau architecture in Norway. One art nouveau building worth a visit is Sverre Eidsvik’s superb traditional ship’s chandlery (established in 1931), packed to the roof with everything imaginable. Near the city centre, the 418 steps to the Aksla ‘town mountain’ viewpoint provide great views, and a short drive away, the Sunnmøre Museum is worth a visit.
Stordal, I checked forecasts, starting to think of my trip to Geiranger, and made
a few tentative enquiries regarding accommodation. At 35 miles, the outward route
was only a mile longer than my return trip to Eidsdal, but with the only
harbour and feasible road access past Stranda (until Geiranger) being at/near
Hellesylt, the relative remoteness of Sunnylvsfjorden and Geiranger made the
trip feel more committing. The shorelines past Stranda were steep, with some
stretches of very steep or vertical rock faces that would make progress on foot
challenging at least.
forecast for north-westerly winds of a maximum 5 miles per hour, I made an
early start from Stordal, crossing Storfjord into a slight chop, before heading
south. Within an hour I’d passed Stranda, reaching the small light at the mouth
of Sunnylvsfjorden. Layers of broken cloud partially obscured the surrounding
mountain tops, giving Sunnylvsfjorden a ‘lost world’ appearance. The 12 miles
down this stunning fjord were a real highlight and were completed without
seeing another boat on the water, though I did notice a small number of empty-looking
cabins on the shores. After the dry summer, the previous day’s rain swelled the
waterfalls I passed on both sides.
to the mouth of Geirangerfjorden, I could see that conditions inside were even
better. Clouds still brushed the tops, but didn’t obstruct the views of the magnificent
Seven Sisters waterfall, and opposite, the Bridal Veil waterfall. The snake-like
twists of Geirangerfjorden created a varying panorama, with the village of Geiranger
only coming into sight after the last bend. With several stops for photos on
the way, the trip from Stordal had taken three hours.
contacted Solhaug Camping previously, asking about the availability of cabins (before
knowing exact dates), Gunn had recommended calling to check on arrival.
Stopping off on the southern shore opposite Geiranger, Gunn was very helpful and,
after first trying to move bookings around to free up a cabin, kindly rang a
friend in Geiranger, securing me a room in her guesthouse. Arriving at
Geiranger’s visitors’ pontoons, the friendly owner of a large motor boat
identified a suitable mooring near his bow. Mooring fees equated to £5 a night
(payable at the nearby café), and I caught a bus up the hill to the guesthouse,
discovering my room had a brochure-worthy view down onto Geirangerfjorden.
population is around 250 in winter, when locals say the town ‘sleeps’, but with
approximately 150 cruise ships visiting from around May to October, the number on
some days can reach 8,000. Anchoring close to the village in deep water,
passengers can use Geiranger’s ‘SeaWalk’ floating walkway to get ashore. The village
is compact, with shops, supermarkets and tourist facilities centred on the shoreside.
Uphill, exhibitions in the Norsk Fjordsenter showcase the history, culture and
wildlife of the West Norwegian Fjords World Heritage Site. The problems of
landslides in Inner Storfjorden are highlighted (there have been more than 100
since the last ice age). In 1934, three million cubic metres of rock fell into
Tafjorden, causing a wave up to 62 metres high, which tragically killed 40
people in Tafjord. Currently, the Åknes rockslide (in Sunnylvsfjorden) is being
closely monitored, with concern that up to 54 million cubic metres could fall, causing
a wave up to 40 metres to hit the villages of Hellesylt and Geiranger. Another
location in Tafjorden is also being closely monitored.
deciding to stay for a second night, the next day I boated to Hellesylt, on a
mirror-like fjord, in bright sunshine, seeing craft ranging from cruise ships
to kayaks, before returning to Geiranger.
Heading back to Stordal the next day, Sunnylvsfjorden appeared even more spectacular in the bright sunshine. It transpired later that a cruise ship I noticed a few miles away near Hellesylt had friends of a friend on board – like me hugely enjoying the weather and scenery. At the junction with Norddalsfjord, in perfect conditions and with plenty of fuel, I decided to turn east and travel along Norddalsfjorden, then Tafjorden to the village of Tafjord. Tafjord holds several ‘warmest’ records in Norway. After a brief stop, I headed back towards Stranda, this time travelling up the east shore of Storfjorden and reaching Stordal, five hours (and 62 miles) after leaving Geiranger.
seen a lot of Inner Storfjorden, I chose to see more of Outer Storfjorden in my
time remaining. After reading about Hjørundfjorden with its views of the Sunnmøre
Alps, I headed there the day after returning from Geiranger. Crossing Storfjorden
from Stordal, I was soon travelling westwards, past where I’d reached on my
shakedown cruise, and I saw my first porpoise soon after passing the mouth of Sykkylvsfjorden.
The mountains lining Inner Storfjorden are replaced in Outer Storfjorden by generally
lower peaks with more frequent gaps, allowing wider views of the surrounding
miles wide, Storfjorden was now approaching its widest point. With the weather
still perfect, I headed south into Hjørundfjorden and crossed to its western
shore. The jagged peaks of the Sunnmøre Alps, some still with snow on, became
more visible. The English climber William Cecil Slingsby, a climbing pioneer in
Norway (first visiting in the 1870s), said of the views from Slogen (a mountain
near Hjørundfjorden): ‘You will never see another such view.’ I travelled 6
miles down Hjørundfjorden until level with the small village of Ytre Standal.
Aware I was around 30 miles from Stordal, and wondering if the good weather was
still holding in the more open Outer Storfjorden, I paused only briefly for
over to the east side of Hjørundfjorden, a porpoise appeared several times fairly
close to the boat. On reaching Storfjord, the weather appeared unchanged;
however, after a couple of miles the wind started to increase from the east/south-east
in some fairly strong gusts, and small waves were soon building. Knowing the
northern shore had more safe havens, access to a road and was ultimately on the
same side of the fjord as Stordal, I quickly decided to cross the couple of
miles to it in case conditions prevented me doing this later. Keeping at an
angle to the waves, rather than having them beam on, I noticed there were a few
more whitecaps. Safely on the other side, conditions improved a little. Looking
across the fjord, I suspected the gusts were coming through a gap in the
mountains, behind Sykkylven, so I thought they’d drop a few miles east, once past
the ‘gap’. I noticed the gusts hitting my face seemed distinctly either warm or
cold. Having felt this variation several times, the warmer gusts appeared
stronger, having a greater effect on the water and boat. Intriguingly, the
temperature I felt on my face as the gust reached me therefore seemed to give a
crude indication of its strength before it fully hit. The wind dropped as I
made my way east, backing up my ‘gap wind’ theory.
in the tail awaited in Stordalsvika Cove, where I experienced the strongest
winds of the entire trip, right on the nose. Acting over only the mile and a
half from Stordal, the waves weren’t too significant and lessened with
decreasing fetch as I closed on Stordal. The winds on my return journey hadn’t been
enough to cause a change of plans or to make me wait in a safe haven, but it
had been an interesting end to another long day trip, totalling 61 miles. Back
at the campsite, I added pegs to a neighbouring tent (whose owners were away),
which looked in danger in the gusts. On my last day afloat, I had a shorter
round trip of 11 miles, across to see the pontoon near the historic farm of Ytste
Skotet. With the weather looking to be changing, I didn’t want to leave the
boat to look at the farm, and returned via Dyrkorn.
After eight days of boating, I took the boat from the water and started packing up ahead of the journey back to the UK.
Zodiac and 20hp Suzuki combined to impress me in the range of conditions I
experienced over the 256 miles I covered. My central base at Stordal Camping
allowed successive trips that increased my knowledge of Storfjord, which was useful
for the following trips. While experiencing the scenery was always more
important than clocking up mileage, I averaged 32 miles per day over my eight
days of boating, including two consecutive 60-plus-mile days.
experience, the western fjords are well set up for people wanting to visit,
especially by boat. Camping, and taking some food from the UK, is significantly
cheaper than using hotels, with the return journey from the UK being the
biggest component of the overall trip cost (two return car ferries and fuel for
the 2,300-mile car journey). Campsites regularly have direct or close access to
the water and sometimes have harbours.
was fortunate with the weather. In Norway, it only really rained on one day, winds
varied but never really affected my plans and often the fjord was like glass. Temperatures
in Stordal reached 31 degrees Celsius – much hotter than the 12 degrees Graeme
and I had experienced a few years earlier in Hardangerfjorden at the same time
of year (which had been unseasonably cold). My three-day return trip to the
village of Geiranger was a major highlight. The remoteness of Sunnylvsfjorden,
coupled with it being a key part of the route to Geiranger, made it narrowly my
The scenery lived up to its reputation and the experience of travelling through it exceeded my expectations. This made all the preparation time, travel and effort I had invested in the three-week adventure, from dreaming up the idea to arriving home, definitely worthwhile. Norway’s western fjords are simply magnificent.
the end of the Stordal valley, on the eastern shore of Storfjorden, the small
village of Stordal has a population of just over 1,000 people. Stordal’s
community has traditionally farmed the local land (mostly pastoral) and
manufactured wooden furniture. The compact village centre includes shops, two
supermarkets, tourist information, a bank, a petrol station and a fjord-side quay.
Stordal’s wooden ‘Rose Church’, built in 1799, is one of Norway’s most
decorated and is now a museum, having been superseded by a larger church in
harbour, surrounded by wooden boathouses, has long-term pontoon moorings for
approximately 50 local boats. Along with facilities you’d expect, such as a slipway
and electric hook-up, pipes beneath the pontoon emit air bubbles in winter, which
rise, stopping ice forming around the boats. Mooring to the separate visitors’
pontoon (capacity around 15 vessels) for a boat like mine equated to £4.50 per
night, seven nights for the price of six, payable in an honesty box.
With space for tents and motorhomes, and with cabins and an apartment to rent, Stordal’s campsite is well run by Siri, and is situated just behind the harbour, boasting great views looking up the valley. Siri and her family also run the Nilsgardtunet restaurant in Stordal, in what was their family’s farmhouse when they previously ran a dairy farm. Camping cost me the equivalent of £10 per night.
Storfjorden – Norway’s great fjord
miles long, Storfjorden (Great Fjord) is one of Norway’s longest fjords. Winding
inland from its mouth (where Sulafjorden and Vartdalsfjorden meet), 7 miles
south of Ålesund, Storfjorden branches into several side fjords. The main
branches in Outer Storfjorden are Hjørundfjorden and Sykkylvsfjorden, and in Inner
Storfjorden, Sunnylvsfjorden (which leads to Geirangerfjorden) and
Norddalsfjorden (leading to Tafjorden). Located in the Sunnmøre region of Møre
og Romsdal, the villages along Storfjorden aren’t heavily populated (the
largest being Sykkylven and Stranda with populations of 4,258 and 2,907,
respectively). A network of roads and car ferries, some of which are closed or
don’t operate during winter, connects the villages. The mountains surrounding
Storfjorden vary from up to 2,500ft near its mouth, rising to almost 6,000ft near
Geiranger and Tafjord. The deepest part is near Dyrkorn, where depths reach 2,228ft.
Geirangerfjorden and Naerøyfjorden (75 miles away) were chosen to represent the West Norwegian Fjords on the UNESCO World Heritage list, being ‘considered to be among the most scenically outstanding fjord areas on the planet’. UNESCO also points out that ‘of the 200 fjords along the west coast of Norway, Naerøyfjord and Geirangerfjord are the least affected by human activity such as hydroelectric dams and infrastructure’ (in all my boating, I have never seen any litter in the fjords). The varying habitats of the Geirangerfjorden area are home to a rich assortment of wildlife, including Norway’s four types of deer (red deer, reindeer, roe deer and the rare elk), pine marten, black grouse, goshawk, wolverine, stoat and, in the fjords, harbour porpoises.
Driving to Norway
to Norway from the UK by car was made more difficult 10 years ago when the Newcastle
to Bergen passenger/car ferry ceased, having operated in various guises for 140
years. My chosen route was the overnight DFDS ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam,
followed by a two-day drive to the Color Line ferry from Hirtshals at the top
of Denmark to Larvik in Norway. I’d used the Harwich to Esbjerg (Denmark) ferry
twice previously, before it also ceased. I had a daytime four-hour crossing
from Hirtshals to Larvik (twice previously the outward leg has been overnight).
Alternatives include driving via the bridge/tunnel that connects Denmark to Sweden, or using the overnight ferries from Kiel in Germany to Gothenburg (Sweden) or Oslo. I used the bridge/tunnel on a trip to Sweden previously. I’ve not used the ferry options from Kiel, but by travelling overnight you’d likely reduce your overall journey time. The cost of a return ticket could be partly offset by the reduction in your fuel bill (fewer road miles) and the money saved on two nights’ accommodation (you get a cabin on board both ways) and not having to pay alternative ferry/bridge/tunnel charges. Your optimal route will depend on several factors, including your starting/end points, available time and if you want to see anywhere particular on the way. Being able to share the driving may increase your daily mileage, but it’s important you’re realistic. I’ve found pre-booking ferries cheaper, but ensure you’ve enough flexibility built into your schedule for unexpected events (such as heavy traffic round cities, roadworks or a flat tyre), which could otherwise put you under pressure, which can be dangerous.
Boating alone in Norway’s Great Fjord
on Storfjorden differed from earlier adventures in my boats in several ways:
for example, more days afloat, cruising further in a larger boat with a bigger
engine and experiencing more remote fjords. The biggest difference was being single-handed
after Tom unexpectedly had to pull out late.
I’d identified the relative remoteness of parts of Storfjord
early in my preparations. Online maps, satellite images and photos showed Sunnylvsfjorden
and Geirangerfjorden’s frequently very steep fjord sides (parts looking
inaccessible even on foot), with stretches of over 10 miles having no feasible
road access. I’d highlighted safe havens and accessible roads on laminated maps
(the nearest roads sometimes weren’t, being the wrong side of 4,000ft peaks or
concealed in tunnels), along with buildings (even isolated ones) and areas of
particular remoteness. This ensured I’d have this information available on
board, and the research helped build up my knowledge. Safety kit assembled over
the years was supplemented with recent additions, including a FastFind EPIRB, a
throw bag and a canoe paddle ‒ plus a recent ‘Sea Survival’ course (PBR Issue 150). Having borrowed a Fladen
flotation suit for an earlier Greenland expedition, I’d found it robust and
comfortable on long and successive days. Its inbuilt buoyancy (76.9N) and
insulation help keep you warm on board, and provide a useful layer of
protection/padding. The fleece-lined
collar and adjustable peaked hood protect against rain and spray. The yellow
hi-vis fabric on the arms, shoulders and hood includes six reflective strips, and
the Velcro fastenings on the leg bottoms and Neoprene wrist seals help
make the suit adjustable. Six pockets allow important items to be kept close at
hand. I chose to wear a buoyancy aid
on top of the Fladen for even more flotation.
Keen to obtain some local knowledge, I asked Ilyas,
the son of the campsite owner, who had a boat himself, about things that were hard
or impossible to find out online, such as typical daily weather patterns and
mobile phone coverage (which tended to be good on Storfjorden, he said). He said
that boating was best done between 10am and 6pm to try and avoid strong katabatic
winds, which can descend from the mountains lining the fjords. Stordalsvika Cove,
he advised, was always worse when westerly winds funnelled in through Outer
Storfjorden. Ilyas recalled 2-metre swells on one occasion, and confirmed that conditions
can change fast, and so need constant attention. He added that this sometimes meant
winds might pass by relatively quickly.
this in mind, although I always set off with an objective in mind (having checked
the forecast and emailed my plan to the campsite office and back to my parents
in the UK) I was always prepared to adjust my plan. This could mean shortening a
trip in unfavourable weather or lengthening it to take advantage of fantastic
weather (for example, visiting Tafjord when returning from Geiranger). My handheld
VHF, attached with a mobile phone and EPRIB to my buoyancy aid, was kept as an
emergency option to communicate with any visible boats, ferries or cruise
The distance I boated from the shore depended largely on the weather conditions, but I always tended to be nearer one shore than the other. I travelled kneeling or sitting comfortably on a folded foam camping mattress in the bottom of the boat, and, when conditions were good, generally cruised at around 15mph at half throttle. My 20hp is roughly as fuel-efficient as my previous smaller engines, so it was easy to always carry significantly more fuel than I needed. I used around 11 litres to cover 64 miles on my longest day, so consumption was around 6 miles per litre.
Making a camera mount for the tubes
of inflatables and RIBs
time ago I wanted to attach a stern-facing camera to the curved surface of my
Zodiac’s bow, so built a removable camera mount using a piece of plastic roof guttering.
The two long ‘edges’ of the guttering sit on the tube, creating a stable
platform on the curved surface. The standard-size ‘tripod’ screw I’ve
incorporated will hold any compatible camera or mounting.
Start by cutting a piece of guttering (less than £4 at a DIY store) to size,
and filing the edges and corners smooth. Drill three holes in a plastic removable
camera tripod baseplate (cheap online) and corresponding pairs of holes on the
top of the upturned guttering to attach the baseplate using cable ties. Before
affixing the baseplate, drill a larger hole through the guttering so the
baseplate screw can be tightened from underneath. Attach the baseplate with
cable ties and file their cut ends smooth (maybe also covering them with tape).
Screw a ‘mini ball head bracket’ (available cheaply online) to the baseplate,
to which the camera can be attached. Pairs of holes are drilled into the edges
of the guttering, and cord passed through each pair and tied off as separate
loops. Position the guttering where you want it on your boat’s tube (on a foam offcut
to further protect the tube) and attach it to whatever fixing points you have
nearby. Mine’s on the bow and so is attached to the lifting handle and the two
davit mounts. Using elastic cord and plastic clips means there’s no ‘slack’ in
the system and it can be removed easily. Independently tying off the camera is
also a good idea.
I’ve used the mount with a DSLR camera, at low boat speeds, using the camera’s delayed shutter timer. A cabled or wireless shutter release may be better, if your camera is compatible, as would a ‘quick-release’ mechanism for the camera rather than having to screw/unscrew it each time. If your camera is not waterproof, a plastic bag or disposable shower cap can help keep it dry.
Moving up the Zodiac range: the 3.4m
(aluminium) with 20hp Suzuki
that attracted me to soft inflatable boats (SIBS), such as being able to roll
them up for easy storage/transportation, their quick assembly, ease of launching
and relative low ownership cost, still resonate with me more than a decade
later. Looking for a boat to follow on from my 2.6m and 3.1m Zodiac Cadets, I
considered several options, but soon found myself returning to the Zodiac range,
settling on a 3.4m Cadet.
looking similar to my previous Cadets, it has significant differences. The
additional LOA makes it a bigger boat, with more internal space, and it has
aluminium floor panels (the 3.1m had wooden floor panels and the 2.6m, wooden
slats). The 3.4m benefits from having three separate chambers in the main tube (the
3.1m and 2.6m had only two), with an inflatable keel under the floor (like the
3.1m). The overall result is that the 3.4m can carry more people (it’s rated
for five) and a bigger engine than my previous boats. The only modifications
made by Phil and Mark at PA Lynch Ltd (whom I’ve dealt with since my first
boat) were fixing removable transom wheels, and eyes on the floorboards to hold
a fuel tank strap.
owned Suzukis (4hp/6hp) with my previous Zodiacs, I was keen to stick with the
brand and looked closely at their range for the best match for my 3.4m, coupled
with my type of boating (mostly day trips from the back of the car). Looking
for additional power, my main concern was the extra weight of a larger engine.
Examining the Suzuki short-shaft range (with ‘manual starting’, reducing weight and cost), the listed weights are 39.5kg for the 8hp, 39kg for the 9.9hp (44kg for the EFI 9.9hp) and 44kg for both the EFI 15hp and 20hp. With these being significantly heavier than the 24kg of my 6hp, a visit to PA Lynch to check whether I could still lift various sizes alone was useful. I chose to invest in the extra power of the 20hp EFI (the boat’s maximum) with it weighing the same as the 15hp (and only 5kg more than the 9.9hp). When the engine is serviced at a Suzuki dealership such as PA Lynch, the engine control unit releases a surprising amount of data. Among the information recorded is the total running time, the percentage of time spent at various revs, the number of starts (plus data relating to engine temperature and barometric pressures at the time) and the number of gear changes. This builds a picture of how the engine is being operated and how it’s performing, which is useful for both the mechanic (to spot/diagnose issues) and the user (to check that they’re operating the engine efficiently). The data can help protect both the user and the manufacturer in the unlikely event of a warranty claim, and also help both a seller and a buyer in the second-hand market.
www.palynch.co.uk: Zodiac, Suzuki, etc. boat dealers/chandlers
www.zodiac-nautic.com/en/: Zodiac inflatables and RIBs
www.marine.suzuki.co.uk: Suzuki outboards
www.yr.no: Norwegian weather forecasts
provided by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and Norwegian Broadcasting
if you were born on, or later than, 1st January 1980, you’ll need at least a
Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence (or similar from an EEA/EU country) to
pilot a boat over 8m or with an engine greater than 25hp. https://www.visitnorway.com/plan-your-trip/safety-first/water-safety/
http://www.fladenfishing.org.uk/featured-product-3: Fladen flotation suits
www.kart.gulesider.no: Electronic maps and charts of
www.visitnorway.com: Official travel guide to Norway
www.dfdsseaways.co.uk: DFDS ferries
www.colorline.com: Color Line ferries
www.norwegen-reise.com/en/norway.camping.map.0.html: Norwegian campsites
About the author
PBR contributor Peter Talbot has owned
small Zodiac inflatables for over a decade. His travels aboard them (totalling more
than 1,500 miles) have included several multi-day camping journeys with friends
in the UK, Norway and Sweden. He has RYA qualifications up to Advanced
Powerboat level and has also helmed inflatables in Greenland. Away from boats,
he’s ski-toured in Svalbard and on the Greenland ice cap, helped survey a
glacier in Norway and undertaken scientific research on the Ross Ice Shelf in