The Risøy channel (Risøyrenna) runs just under 3-miles long through the Risøysund. At 23-feet-deep, with a bottom width of 328 feet, 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 – a shallow bay – between Andøya and Hinnøya that people could cross on horseback at low tide. In his capacity as a member of the Norwegian parliament, Hurtigruten founder Richard With first started working on the channel, which opened up his trading post at Risøyhamn for more shipping traffic.
A NEW ERA
Later on, when the Hurtigruten coastal line was established, the channel was widened to allow the ships to sail through it. When Risøyrenna, in the shallow Risøysundet, was opened on June 26, 1922, the Hurtigruten ship ‘Finmarken’ was first off the mark and 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 favor of an easier passage that opened up Vesterålen from the north.
After Risøyrenna, Risøysundet continues into Sortlandssundet, which allows Hurtigruten on its way northwards from Lofoten to call into Stokmarknes and Sortland in Vesterålen, before navigating the channel to Risøyhamn and on to Harstad.