Day 18-2. Midsund to Ona contd.
We cycled quite slowly across Harøya first more easterly of the two roads going North South then doubling back to take a quick look at the white wooden church on the island. As it was a lovely day we decided to lengthen our stay on Harøya by heading West out to Morsund and return via Brunvoll to Steinshamn. The views were gorgeous with small woods mixed in with housing and farms inland, the deep blue sea on the other side and all of it under a brilliant sun and sky. We dawdled slowly across the landscape towards Steinshamn. I can't believe I didn't take any pictures of the views but I remember them clearly. As we approached the northern harbour of Harøya we took fifteen minutes out to do some groceries. We didn't know if there were any shops on Ona so stocked up just in case.
We thought we had enough time to get to the ferry but hadn't reckoned with the long stone causeway that ran out from Steinshamn to the harbour. The harbour was actually an island called Finnøya and not on Harøya. We hadn't taken a timetable with us and were not sure if the ferry had arrived or not so we peddled like mad to get to the ferry. We had to stop twice to let traffic coming the other way pass us. The causeway was just wide enough to take a truck so there was not much room for a car and cyclist to pass each other. In the end we made it on time and at the quayside we joined the small throng of people waiting to cross to Sandøya and Ona.
Two groups of cyclists were in the queue, one consisted of Germans with touring gear and kids in tow. The other was a group of Norwegians maybe a grandmother and three of her granchildren the kids with brightly coloured bikes and panniers. We looked terribly over-equipped compared to both groups although having experienced the full force of the weather two days earlier knew we were not.
The boat left harbour on time and to be honest it was simply wonderful to be here on the boat watching Sandøya approach whilst bobbing up and down and swaying gently in the long sea swell.It was very easy to stand on the boat and take pictures. Besides views of the blueness I was interested in the houses standing on the low lying land on the edge of Sandøya. Some of them looked decrepit and unloved whilst others were clearly still in use.
This boat was an old slow coastal ferry and under the careful direction of the captain, picked its way carefully through the hidden rocks and reefs. A couple of days earlier I'd seen a sea map of the area and it was littered with small islands and (semi) submerged rocks. It was quite impressive to see the boat constantly turning from left to right. Each turn the boat hit the approaching swell from a different angle. There was nothing easy in piloting a ferry here.
At Sandøya the German family got off and we wondered what they were going to do on Sandøya until the next ferry arrived. We thought Ona was small but Sandøya was an order of magnitude smaller and only had two small roads marked. Hmmm, we wondered if there would be enough to do on Ona ? Well an elder of Midsund had said that Ona was special and we had to go and visit it. We hoped he was right as we didn't have a clue why Ona was so highly regarded.
As we travelled further and further away from the mainland and towards open sea the approach to Ona harbour became more tortuous. We had been looking at just one side of the island for most of the trip before the ferry took a long sweeping turn to starboard. As we passed round the end of the island, we saw for the first time the small well protected harbour facing the North. In times gone by this was a fishing village we'd been told. It had an economic advantage in the age of sail as it was further out to sea. Ona fishermen had a head start on their mainland based competitors and could get to the fishing grounds earlier. Thus they could get their catch landed earlier. However there was a downside. Ona's highest point, with the lighthouse standing on it, is perhaps fifteen or twenty metres above average sea level. On one fateful night in the 17th century all but two houses were washed away by an enormous storm. Those two families survived and in time Ona was re-populated. Or should I say Husøya was re-populated. Some maps show the island of Husøya, some call it Ona whilst others show the two islands of Ona and Husøya. This is not unusual in our experience, our maps often disagree as the the name of a small place we cycle through (in Norway at least).