The Recreational Mariner's Guide

2. Norway



If you are like us, you enjoy nothing better than a beautiful, wild and secluded anchorage, and in Norway, north Norway especially, there are an abundance of these; however, there are also challenges to anchoring in Norway. Below are some of the issues you may face.

Online Book: Anchoring Made Easy at Attainable Adventure Cruising

Sea Bottom Conditions

There are various types of sea bottom in Norway that can make anchoring problematic, including thick kelp, stiff clay with weed, and hard sand. Having the right type of anchor (we find that the Spade works well in Norway), and knowing how to set it properly, will make anchoring enjoyable instead of a trial.


Norwegian anchorages tend to be deep, so carrying enough rode to anchor in 20 to 25 m of water (100 m or more of rode) will significantly increase the number of anchorages available to you. If that is not possible on your boat, then take as much as you can; preferably at least 60 m. 

Limited, Sloping Shelf of Suitable Depth

Often found in deep fjords, where depths shallow enough to anchor in are hard to find, the best approach in this situation is probably to drop one anchor as far inshore as possible, the extremely shallow depth compensating for the unfavourable downsloping angle of the bottom, and then to drop a second anchor in deep water offshore, the resulting short scope being compensated for by the favourable upsloping angle of the bottom.

Small Anchorages

Mooring bolts

Many small anchorages have fortøyningsbolter (mooring bolts)—T-shaped metal pickets or rings set into the rock—often marked by target-like rings painted on the surface of the rock around them, without which they are very difficult to see.

You will also see these in narrow channels; not, of course, for mooring, but as an aid to sailing vessels, prior to engines, to warp through.

Some Norwegians, particularly those in smaller boats, carry their own mooring bolts, which they hammer into a crack in the rock.

Shorelines (shorefasts)

Shorefasts, Gear and Technique at Attainable Adventure Cruising

It is customary in Norway to use an anchor off the stern or bow and a line to a mooring bolt, with the line led into the direction the wind is expected to come from. This can enable an anchorage to be used in heavy weather even when the holding is only moderate and also when the swinging room is limited (Scandinavian-style mooring). 

One drawback of this method is that it takes considerable time and effort to rig and unrig shorelines. Also, side loading by wind on the beam produces very high stress on the anchor, which could potentially drag and, if the wind comes up from an unexpected direction or harder than anticipated, it could be very difficult to retrieve the shorelines and effect a change.

On Morgan’s Cloud we sometimes use shorelines in very small anchorages; however, when swing room is limited but not very tight, we generally prefer to set two anchors 90° apart off the bow, their positions depending on the expected wind direction and bottom contour. This substantially reduces the swing room required and we find it easier than rigging shorelines.

We suggest that you try both methods and see what works best for your boat and crew.

Underwater Cables and Pipelines

Chart symbols: a continuous wavy red line denotes underwater cables and a line of joined red dashes and spots, looking rather like a string of tadpoles, denotes underwater pipelines


  • are not always shown on the chart, so keep a lookout on shore for signs that read Kabel or Avløp or Ankring Forbudt (Anchoring Forbidden); however, coves marked as anchorages on official charts with no submarine structures shown, that have been used by generations of mariners, are now marked with “no anchoring” signs, probably put up by residents of the many summer cabins (primarily in popular holiday destinations on the southeast coast)
  • the location shown on the chart does not always accord with reality (Hellemobotn in Tysfjorden, Vol. 4, being one example), so be very careful if trying to anchor near charted cables or pipes


Anchoring in the lee of high steep ground will often be a poor choice due to fallvinder—extremely gusty winds peaking far in excess of the average; known elsewhere as williwaws or katabatic gusts.

Tying Up

Online Book: Coming Alongside (Docking) Made Easy at Attainable Adventure Cruising

Visitors’ Berths (gjestebrygger)

In larger towns and cities, and increasingly in smaller places, visitors’ berths are provided, frequently with some combination of electricity, water, showers and washing/drying machines.

Many private boat clubs—båtlag and båtforening both mean boat club and would include both motorboats and sailboats, while seilforening refers to a sailboat club but would probably have a few motorboats as well—also have space designated for visitors and/or allow visitors to use members’ vacant spaces. 

More and more harbours have installed floating pontoon systems (flytebrygger) with attached finger piers separating the berths. These are easy to tie to and convenient; however, since most Norwegians have smaller boats, anyone with a boat larger than approximately 12 m in length may find manoeuvring and berthing difficult in these small boat harbours (småbåthavner).

Private Docks

In places where there is no gjestebrygge or it is full, do not tie up to a private dock or pontoon unless invited to do so by the owner, and never plug into someone’s private electricity outlet without having agreed on compensation for this. Visiting sailors have been known to abuse the use of private docks, which means that locals may be less than pleased to see the next visiting boat that pulls into the harbour. Where there are no visitors’ berths available, you should seek out the nearest anchorage and visit the village by dinghy.

Docks/Quays/Wharfs (kaier)

In places where there is no flytebrygge, where the pontoon is full of visiting boats, or where the pontoon is too small, you may have to rely on quays.

Several issues to keep in mind:

  • Leave enough slack in your dock lines to account for the tidal range
  • Some commercial docks may not extend below the rub rail at low tide, and many have old tyres secured along them to act as fenders, meaning the boat could drift under the tyres or the dock itself and then get caught on the rising tide. Several options:
    • keep the boat pulled off the dock using an anchor off the beam, if you can do so without hampering harbour activities
    • buy two large balloon fenders that slide over the tyres
    • go elsewhere

Offshore Lines (lazy lines)

In south Norway you may encounter fixed offshore lines consisting of one or two ropes per berth attached to a mooring offshore, run from there to the pontoon or wharf, and then allowed to sink to the bottom when not in use. These will be familiar to European mariners but may be a new experience for non-Europeans. 


  • back down to the pontoon
  • pick up a line with a boat hook without releasing it from the pontoon
  • walk forward overhauling the line
  • cleat it off at the bow
  • then cleat the same line aft with the appropriate amount of slack
  • if you prefer to approach bow in, just reverse everything

This procedure is easy enough in calm weather but potentially exciting with a strong cross wind. In windy conditions it is important to get the line fastened on a forward cleat before the bow blows off, potentially swinging the stern toward the semi-submerged lazy line, with the potential to wrap it around the prop. 

The fun of this whole procedure is enhanced by the fact that the line is usually filthy with mud and weed. 


Costs for dockage generally run between 200 and 400kr/24hrs and in most places there will be an extra charge for electricity, showers, toilets, and laundry.

Methods of payment:

  • Cash: In some harbours you can pay at a shop or there will be a posted telephone number and you can enquire about paying in cash. Note that some harbours will charge you extra if you insist on paying with cash. In Tromsø this will easily double your berthing fees.
  • Bank transfer: A few harbours post their bank details allowing for a bank transfer.
  • Mobile pay: Many small harbours will only accept payment by VIPPS, which is a national mobile pay system widely used in Norway, limited to residents. The only option then is to liaise with a local who will pay your fees with their VIPPS account, making sure the owner gives your boat’s name in the payment details. Then you can pay the account holder with cash. 
  • Parking-meter style: Though some cruisers have experienced problems with US and Canadian cards in these machines, one American contributor who has cruised extensively in Norway reports that while credit cards “may” work, debit cards “always” work.
  • Apps: E.G. GoMarina or Mooringo, which seem to accept most debit cards.
  • Apple Pay: Though not used by many harbours yet, it is widely accepted in restaurants and shops.

Webcams – get a look at harbours throughout Norway


Local boating clubs have for many years put down moorings for use by their members. Recently, there has been a move by various agencies to install moorings that are available for all to use for 24 hours at a time. The usual warnings apply when picking up a mooring that you are unfamiliar with. 

Most of the moorings available for general use will be put down by one of the following parties: 

  • Kystverket (The Norwegian Coastal Administration) has some moorings intended for fisherfolk waiting out poor weather. These will usually be located in areas less frequented by visiting mariners. While fishing boats have priority, the moorings are often vacant during the summer.
  • Kongelig Norsk Båtforbund (The Royal Norwegian Boating Union), for some years put down moorings from Stavanger to the Russian border. The project ran out of funding in 2022 and many of the moorings have been removed. In some locations local boatclubs have taken on responsibility for maintenance of the moorings, but in other locations the moorings have been left in place with no maintenance routine. We recommend you do not trust these moorings. 
  • Oslofjorden Friluftsråd has placed moorings in approximately 50 locations in Oslofjorden. The moorings are intended for boats up to 8 tonnes. Boats flying the Oslofjorden Friluftsråd burgee have priority.