Northern lights & whale bonanza from Tromsø

Winter Sail with Valiente
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The feeling of sailing under the flickering northern lights, accompanied only by wind and waves, is difficult to describe. Instead, we will give you the opportunity to experience it yourself, on board our comfortable expedition boat Valiente. We sail from Tromsø to Lyngen, Skjervøy, Kvænangen and Spildra, between the towering snow-capped peaks and the mighty views in these areas! Welcome to Winter sail with Valiente.

The “bright” dark season

Our favourite part of the dark months in the north is the wonderful and always varied light. From deep blue and purple tones at dusk to days with a perpetual sunrise/set lasting several hours. And with mountain peaks in the warmest pink and orange colours you can imagine.

In addition, at this time of year we have perfect conditions to enjoy the dancing auroras throughout the evenings and nights. We sail in the epicentre of the mythical northern lights. And we have first class seats for the show. Along the way, we anchor in ports without light pollution, we visit historic fishing villages and sail in the middle of Northern Norway’s raw and wild nature. Where white peaks plunge thousands of meters down into the sea.

From Tromsø in searching for the whales

We sail into the fjords and waters where the herring have their wintering grounds. Orcas and humpback whales follow the shoals of small fish. Together the hungry whales and huge schools of herring make the sea boil at the surface. An intense nature experience we hope to show you. 

A winter sail with Valiente also includes bonfires on the beach, fishing our own dinner, and hopefully a hike or two on land. 

The expedition vessel Valiente

It’s not any sailboat we use on this trip, but our 70-foot expedition boat Valiente. She is a very stable and comfortable steel boat built for arctic waters. The boat is amply equipped and has large outdoor areas, a wheelhouse and a saloon with a 360-degree view. Onboard Valiente we are sure that everyone will find their preferred place to take in the wild and honest nature experiences that await! More info and pictures of this vessel is found here.

The skipper and crew on board ensure a safe trip. They are well acquainted with the area’s secret anchorages, fun facts about the whales, and the myths and stories about the northern lights.

Be part of the crew onboard

As on all our trips, you learn to sail. Regardless of whether you have a lot or little experience, we want to challenge you. You will feel a sense of achievement and have memorable experiences for life! If you are a first-timer, we want to make you a sailor as soon as possible. If you are more experienced, you will quickly get more responsibility and bigger challenges. 

We will take you with us as part of our crew. So you get the opportunity to participate in all tasks on board: Stand at the helm, hoist sails, cook, clean, navigate, take a morning swim, gut fish, serve anchor dram, tie knots – the complete sailing experience!

The trip was an awesome chance to see more of Northern Norway, relearn how to use my camera and finally see the Northern Lights. The guides were fantastic and always happy to share knowledge about sailing and photography. Great memories and I'm really glad I got the chance to try winter sailing.

Nikki, Northern lights sailing, January 2023

Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome on board!

We meet at the pier in Tromsø guest harbor at 16.00, and start by getting to know each other and the boat. We go through the boat, safety routines and the program for the week and prepare for sailing already this first evening. We aim to cast off not too late, and will head out towards Grøtsundet Lyngen and Skjervøy! We anchor somewhere north of Tromsø, to have better chances of starting the trip with a small aurora show!

Day 2: Full sailing day towards Kvænangen

 

After an exciting night, where hopefully everyone has also slept well and comfortably, we have a quiet morning. After breakfast, we put on our sailing gear and take a lesson in sailing on the way around the Lyngen peninsula. We eat lunch on board and later in the evening we set course for an anchorage or harbor for the evening closer to Kvænangen. If the weather is clear, we are happy to take a trip to the beach this evening for a bonfire.

Day 3: Whale watching, sauna and swimming in the sea

 

We start with an early breakfast today, in order to get out to the herring and the whale during the hours of daylight we have at our disposal. We try to find the herring, because that’s also where we would find the whales. Orcas and humpbacks on all sides and a horizon full of whale blows is of course our wish for today. The hours of daylight are flying by. When it gets dark, we sail to Spildra. Here they have both a sauna and a small local pub, so we will probably have a nice evening with the few permanent residents here.

Day 4: The magical winter light

 

In our opinion, the best thing about the winter is the light. Although we don’t see the sun that much here in the north at this time of year, the light is absolutely magical. Perfect for exploring and experimenting with the camera, with the majestic landscape as a self-written motif. We spend the last full day with the whales in Kvænangen before heading back towards Tromsø.

Day 5: Back to Tromsø and bye for now

 

On the last morning we have a nice breakfast, and maybe a little trip on land. During the last stretch into Tromsø harbor after lunch, we clean, pack and tidy ourselves out of the boat. We say goodbye on the dock well back where we started latest at 16.00 this afternoon. Thanks for a wonderful adventure!

Changes to the program

 

The program should be seen as a starting point, which we adapt to weather and conditions. We reserve the right to constantly improve the program for the better. With us along the way, we always have dinghies for beach landings and small expeditions. We have fishing equipment for the cod, and hiking equipment for bonfires and summit climbs – we are ready for adventure, are you?!

What is included?

  • A trip experience with sailboat – experienced skipper/instructor with local knowledge on board
  • All food we eat onboard during the trip
  • Our Comfort Package, which consists of accommodation onboard in a shared double cabin (bunk or double bed) with a ready-made bed (warm and nice duvets and pillows!)
  • An environmentally friendly, local, sustainable, unique, exotic and exclusive Norwegian adventure holiday
  • A shared experience and friendship with like-minded adventurers from around the world
  • A lot of time outdoors – raw and honest nature experiences
  • Use of our shared equipment: dinghies, kayaks, fishing equipment, etc. when possible
  • All boat-related costs such as diesel, propane and harbor fees
  • Personal safety equipment; Helly Hansen inflatable lifejacket
  • Instruction, advice, guidance and practical training in boating and sailing

What is not included?

  • Travel to and from the start/end location
  • Optional meals at a cafes/restaurants during the trip
  • Entrance to galleries, museums, or other alternative activities that you/we may come up with
  • Rental of equipment and/or activities from external operators, ex. paddling, glacier hiking or surfing where possible
  • Drinks such as wine, beer or exclusive apple juice and other luxuries (yes, we drink beer and wine on board, bring your own)
  • Travel insurance and/or cancellation insurance – (up to you, but recommended!)

Important info

Travel

This trip start and ends in Tromsø.

You find more information on travel, equipment and other tips under Practical info.

Deposit and payment

You only pay a deposit (NOK 6000) upon registration, the remainder of the payment is due 60 days prior to departure.

Safety and risk onboard

We are all about people, and so we also take safety very seriously. On our trips we practice sail- and boat handling also for safety, and we spend time going through various situations that can arise at sea, how to handle them and how to avoid them.

Onboard a boat everyone must know what to do in critical situations and in the event of an emergency. Our philosophy is that partaking and participation builds safety. It is important for the safety of the whole boat that you are a participant onboard, not just a passenger.

Therefore all our trips are to be considered sailing courses in addition to being great  holidays and adventures: You are trained to make up the crew onboard and so we build a capable team onboard.

Feel free to contact us for a chat about safety and risk on our adventures.

Level of the trip

No sailing experience? No problem! Our sailing adventures welcome both novices and seasoned sailors for an inclusive and enjoyable experience. Whether you’re new to sailing or a salty sea dog, our trips cater to all levels.

We aim to transform beginners into sailors quickly while offering experienced participants greater responsibilities and challenges. Our mainland sailing journeys involve 44-50 feet boats navigating coastal and protected waters, occasionally crossing open stretches for excitement. Route adjustments based on weather and conditions ensure a safe and adaptable voyage.

Trips are not overly strenuous; with rotating positions, participants can balance sailing and relaxation. Active engagement minimizes seasickness, and if it occurs, it passes swiftly. Weather, however, is unpredictable, with the potential for stronger winds and various conditions in northern Norway and the Arctic, making each trip a true sailing adventure. Be prepared for calm winds and rough weather—embracing the elements for an unforgettable experience.

What we expect from you

Our trips require a little effort from you who are joining – everyone on board must be ready to contribute and to give of themselves also socially; the more you open up, share and interest yourself in the others onboard, the more enjoyable it gets. 

When you’re sailing with us you are invited to take part in the running of the ship and all that comes with it. You will be sailing, docking, navigating, looking out for whales and icebergs, but also making food, serving others, doing dishes and helping clean the boat during the trip, and contributing in other ways when needed. Onboard we are all in the same boat and when all help out, the ship is most happy. 

Our experience is that doing things together with others out in nature, and not least cooperating and doing activities with new people and different personalities than you might have around you normally, is what creates the best, most interesting and memorable moments and stories:)

Equipment and packing

As with all activities, there is plenty of special equipment and clothing for sailing. If you don’t have any of this, you will get very far with normal hiking/outdoor equipment. You do not need to buy a lot of new equipment to join our trips. Use what you have, borrow what you need from a friend, purchase used equipment, and if you have to invest in new equipment – buy quality items that will last! What you need is something waterproof and windproof on the outside, and layered warm clothing underneath.

Some jackets may not be waterproof “enough”, or might not perform too well in salt water, so you can consider a set of oilskin for the wettest days (available for rent or purchase onboard). A pair of higher rubber boots for disembarking from the dinghy is very good to have, as well as indoor shoes below deck. Out at sea and in the Arctic it can be cold even in summer, so bring both swimwear and plenty of warm clothes. Well before departure, we will send you a detailed recommended packing list.

Read more and see our packing tips here:

PS: In a sailboat, you pack in a bag or sack, not in a rigid suitcase. 🙂

Food & cooking onboard

On our trips, you will be part of the crew onboard and get the chance to participate in all tasks for the operation of the boat. This includes cooking and preparing food – everyone take turns in the galley! Skippers and crew assist as much as they can along the way.

We have great menus with tasty, healthy and “boat-friendly” food, and for each trip we order provisions for all meals onboard. If you have allergies or preferences, let us know in the registration form and we will take that into account as best as we can. You are also most welcome to bring any special food or drink with you. Why not bring some specialities from your country or region for the boat to enjoy? 

During a weeklong trip we often sail by a good restaurant or two where we can have dinner on land. Some places we need to pre-book and we will then need to choose a menu before we arrive. More about all of this when you come onboard!

Life onboard & accommodation

Life on a sailboat is super social and fun, but it might feel a bit intimate at first. No worries though, that vibe usually fades after the first hour. Everyone chips in to run the boat, and we’re all part of the crew, which means quick bonding.

We’re keen to get to know you and hope you’ll connect with the rest of the crew. It takes some patience, generosity, and an open mind to thrive, but soon you’ll be focused on making new friends and enjoying raw nature experiences once sea life feels like home.

Sleeping arrangements in shared cabins with double or bunk beds can be a bit of a puzzle, but we’re pretty good at figuring it out. Let us know if you have preferences. You’re on your own for land accommodations before or after the trip.

The boat provides heating and good food, but fresh water isn’t always abundant. Water conservation means not showering every day, but when near freshwater sources, we make the most of it. But nothing beats a morning sea swim for that fresh feeling.

Til og fra Tromsø er fly det raskeste hvis du skal til Sør-Norge, sjekk ut SAS, Norwegian eller Flyr. Dersom du har tid til å reise sakte så er det likevel noe vi heller anbefaler! Hurtigruten til/fra Bodø og toget derfra er en flott reise i seg selv!

Any questions? Need travel tips? Practical information?


You'll probably find the answer here, in our collection of questions and answers and practical information.

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