We were awakened today by the Captain, who announced that it was 6ºC, the pressure was falling and following our overnight journey through the Inner Passage we would dock in Ålesund about 11:30. He did say that a storm was expected later with Force 9 or 10 winds which would make the next part of the journey particularly rough so our departure may be delayed. During the last storm we only counted 20 people in the restaurant for dinner! Just before arrival in Ålesund the rain eased and the wind dropped, but the former is now endless!!
The town centre is built around the narrow sound called the Ålesundet. The town was established by settlers from Bergen and the town boomed in the late 19th century when the fishing fleet was expanded and the trade locally and exports of fish products grew. There is a museum in town which details this fishing history but it is currently closed because it is winter. The town’s architecture shows evidence of its fishing and maritime heritage with preserved warehouses, many of which have been converted to other uses.
Trading with the Dutch was important from the 10th century, but by the 17th century timber became more important as an export as it was sort after by both the Dutch and the English because of the war between the two countries in 1808 – 1814. The forests are close to the port, the timber is of high quality and the port is ice-free (see later). The timber was cut inland, often close to rivers where the water powered the sawmills, then floated to the coast for loading onto seagoing vessels. After the war, the Dutch expanded its East India company and built large numbers of ships and harbours in Europe. The trade in timber continues, though today it is in the form of wood pulp and cellulose. Alongside this was the herring boom, which, along with dried cod (bacalau), led to the development of today’s harbour and its associated facilities. The people from Ålesund and their fishing activities have influenced the fishing industries of Seattle (USA), New Zealand, Argentina and Chile as well as helped to modernise the Russian fleet.
In the late afternoon which here is 3:00 p.m., the weather cleared and we revisited parts of Ålesund, such as the fishing docks, before returning to the ship for dinner, departure and a journey further north.
By 8:30 p.m. the plans for tomorrow are cancelled. We have been told this is because of bad weather and we will set foot in Norway in Tromsø, hopefully, as we are staying in Ålesund overnight.