A shallow sound transformed into a major shipping lane
Some 50km off the Helgeland coast and around 15km from Hestmannen, the 4.8km-long Risøy channel (Risøyrenna) runs through the Risøysund. At 7m deep, with a bottom width of 100m, it is the result of a long effort to improve access to the port at Risøyhamn.
Before Risøyrenna was dredged several times, it had been a sound - shallow bay - that people could cross on horseback at low tide between Andøya and Hinnøya. In his capacity as a member of the Norwegian parliament, Hurtigruten founder Richard With first started work on the channel that opened up his trading post at Risøyhamn for more shipping traffic.
A new era
Later on, when we established the Hurtigruten coastal line, the channel was widened to allow the ships to sail through, and the Risøyrenna in the shallow Risøysundet was opened 26th June 1922. The Hurtigruten ship “Finmarken” was first off the mark, escorted by a convoy of close to 400 boats. Richard With was on board the “Finmarken”, which carried several distinguished guests: HRH King Haakon of Norway, Norwegian parliament President Gunder Jahren, cabinet minister Aavatsmark and parliamentary representatives from northern Norway.
The opening of the canal marked the end of sailing through Tjeldsundet to lay anchor at Lødingen, in favour of an easier passage that opened up Vesterålen from the north.
After Risøyrenna, Risøysundet continues into Sortlandssundet, which allows Hurtigruten to call into Stokmarknes and Sortland in Vesterålen when travelling north, before navigating the channel to Risøyhamn and on to Harstad. However, if you fancy sailing around the more treacherous but rewarding Nordkynn peninsula, then Finnkirka can provide an extraordinary experience in the Arctic night.