15-Jun-2005 -- Finally! The last land-based point in the southern half of Norway.
I have been looking at and planning how to reach this point for several years, it is located about 110 km from Bergen on the west coast, but not on the mainland:
The island Hisarøyna lies just outside Eivindvik, the main town in the Gulen community. Several years ago there used to be regular boat service to this island, but now there are too few people living there to support such a connection. This seemed like a big problem until my wife suggested that "Since there's no regular boat service, maybe someone runs a water taxi instead?" I checked the Yellow Pages for the community, and sure enough:
Gulen Skyssbåtservice AS
Phone: 57 78 41 25
Mobile phone 911 81 418
So I called the main number, and the phone was answered by Per Vold who knew exactly where I wanted to go: He steers his boats around the area every day, and he had often noticed that 60°N happens to be just outside his home harbour!
On Wednesday Jun 15, after finishing the first part of a two-day job at our Bergen office, I drove north out of Bergen, along E39. Pretty soon it crosses the first fjord (Osterfjorden), over the Nordhordland bridge, then I left E39 and followed Hwy 57 north towards Mongstad. The bridge fee was about $7.
The first and only time I've ever been to this part of my country was more than 30 years ago, before the North Sea oil industry started to make a lot of changes. On of the big changes is Mongstad itself, close to the ferry terminal: This is where the first big west coast oil refinery was developed, with such huge cost overruns that the term a 'Mong' is still used in norwegian speech to designate something costing far too much.
After about half an hour's wait, my ferry arrived and I paid about $10 to get passage across the Fensfjord, before I could start on the final meandering road to Gulen and Eivindvik.
In Eivindvik I called Mr Vold, and he told me to park at 'The Steamer Terminal', where he came along in ten minutes time with his small boat. This 5 m long open vessel had a 90 hp engine, which turned out to be more than enough to make the boat go faster on the water than I had managed to drive on the twisty roads! :-)
On the way out to Hisarøyna I described to Per how all my maps (marine, topographic and road) agreed that the point should be located just on the side of a small road running along the seashore, and when we got there it turned out that they were right:
Even though the distance from the road to the sea is less than 2 m, basically just a jumble of rocks and boulders from when the road was developed, the confluence is situated exactly in the middle of this area!
While aboard my GPS received WAAS/ESTB differential signal all the time, with EPE numbers down to less than 2 m, but as soon as I jumped ashore, the ESTB satellite was blocked. I could still pace out the 2-3 m remaining to the point, and my GPS did show all zeroes at this point, but without ESTB the EPE increased. With the very short offset from a 2 m-accurate position I feel safe to claim that the point I found must be within 3 m.
After the return to Eivindvik Per invited me up to his home where we used his broadband connection to login to the confluence site and register our visit. I also promised to send him an email when it became active! He also gave me a great tip which should be noted by anyone wanting to repeat out visit: There is a fast boat connection twice a day between Bergen and Eivindvik, taking about 1.5 hours for the trip. This is faster than just the driving part of my trip, adding the ferry means that I took about an hour more than the fast boat.
Eivindvik and the Gulen comunity has a very long history in Norway, it is the home of Gulatingsloven (The Gulating Law) which dates from the viking age. When the viking king Olav Tryggvason converted to christianity, Gulen was the site where Norway officially left the norse gods behind and became a christian country. This was carried forward even into our constitution which was signed on May 17 in 1814:
Article 2 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Norway declares that:
All inhabitants of the Realm shall have the right to free exercise of their religion.
The Evangelical-Lutheran religion shall remain the official religion of the State. The inhabitants professing it are bound to bring up their children in the same.
Today the split between state and church is almost complete, only the King is still required by our constitution to be a member of the Norwegian Church.