Maelstrom – The whirlpool at the edge of the Earth


The Lofoten Islands are crossed by the European Road E10. This road arrives to the southern part of the islands, into the little village of Å, where it stops.

And yet, from Å there are still about 8 km to the southern end of Moskenesøya. But this final part of the island has no roads, no houses and there are only a few abandoned settlements from people that used to live there.

This part of Lofoten is largely occupied by impressive mountains rising from the sea and it is the most beautiful part of what people call the Lofoten Wall.


We took a boat to these area and our guide, a beautiful young woman (who was about to get married the next day), took us to the ruins of the houses that were inhabited until the 70s. People living there abandoned them because life was just too difficult. To get to one of the main islands, take children to school for example, it was easier to go by boat than walk over the high mountains.

Along the coast we saw seabird colonies, eagles and even a seal. Then we were taken out at sea.


Somewhere between the southern end of the Moskenesøya island and the island of Værøy, close to the little island of Mosken, there is Moskstraumen, known as Maelstrom from the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe and Jules Verne, where it appears as a giant whirlpool drawing the ships to the bottom of the sea.

That is why, Maelstrom (Moskstraumen) is the most famous whirlpool in the world,  if not the strongest. The strongest whirlpool is the maelstrom Saltstraumen, which is at 30 km from Bodø, so still in the area.

When we got there, in the middle of the sea, away from the coast, it seemed like everything was calme and no big waves appeared anymore. Though we were at large, the sea seemed to be boiling.

We left soon after because we were feeling sick after all that jump over the waves that we had to face to the Maelstrom.


The girl who was driving the boat told us about the old days when the fishermen came to Moskstraumen for a big catch. They came there because being a whirlpool, it brought to the surface food for the fish. And where there is fish, there are surely many fishermen too.

Taking into account how „angry” the sea can be away from the coast, plus the weather which changes so quickly in this area (it is a subarctic region) and the fact that fishermen were trying to fish in a whirlpool, it is really incredible how brave those men were.

Connecting her story (and our own experience at sea) with the story of the guide from Å about the big storm that killed a few hundred fishermen at the beginning of the 20th century, I realized how strong those men were and what actually means to have a difficult life.

If someone told those fishermen that one day tourists would come to this end of the world to find out their story, for them it would have seemed like an odd thing to do.


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