Tales of Gales part 2

We used the tail of this gale to sail of to Suderoy, The southern most Island of the Faroe’s. After a smooth passage we glided into Vagur. Not a breath of wind was left. The morning was still young so we organised our self’s and chartered the local school bus for a trip up to the light house. The drive itself was more than worth it. The land scape being totally different than that of what we were used to the last week and a half. The Faroe’s are like an ancient fortress, armed by strong currents and some of the worlds steepest cliffs! In a strong wind you stay well clear of these glacial stags!

It is hard to belief that people have been living here for well over a thousand years. At the southern tip of the Island a community of Friesians lived and thrived of piracy! They fled the Vikings in the south and made these rocks their home. They all perished when the plague got hold of them! And so, came an end to the piracy. The Light house and its dwellings looked stunning bathing in the sun, so we took our time exploring the cliffs. Next day we set sail for Tornshavn. We got hold of a nice southerly and managed to stay clear of all the over falls.

Torshavn is a delight in the early summer sun. The “smallest capital of the world” still has a centre where the houses are roofed with grass on top. Kristjan and his son joined us here. They are Isafjordur locals and have become friends after our visits to the west fjords of Iceland.

Klaksvik the next day was are jump of point to see the lighthouse on the northern tip of Kalsoy. On Kalsoy there is no anchorage or safe harbour for us so we use the ferry to drop us of and take the local bus up to Troelanes. From here we start a stunning walk along the clifs up to the light house. It offers a view along the Northern tip of all the Islands and is hard to beat! The plan was to visit Enniberg on the Island of Vidoy next. Plans are there to be changed. When we came out of the fjords the nw’ly swell made it impossible to anchor let alone land at the village of Vidareidi. We wasted no time and made for Eidi on Eysturoy. The best place to start an assent of Slaeteratindur, the highest peak on Faroe! As the crew made their way up the hills I again was closely watching the weather. The next jump was going to be more like a leap! 500 miles to Reykjavik! Straight through the alley of gales, Southern Iceland. A nice high pressure was building over the Azores, and this meant strong to gale force winds for us…

The crew made it back and had another tale to tell. The view had been perfect and the pictures even better! I explained the plan for the coming days with the weather forecast at hand. It was looking like we had a chance of making it to the Reykjanes peninsula just before a patch of bad weather! Marjan got us all back in to the watch schedule before we had a last good night sleep. We pushed of the next morning but did not find the wind until just before lunch.

It picked up to a proper topsail breeze! We were ghosting along and did a 190nml from noon to noon.  Bathing in the sun. After two days, the wind did what it had promised and slowely left us to the mercy of the swell. It looked like the last bit was going to be a motor sail… We passed in-between the Vestman Islands on the south coast of Iceland and decided not to stop but make straight for Reykjavik. There was a new gale expected soon. The strong currents and uneven sea bed make this a hellish place in all but call weather.

Tecla under reefed sail in morning sunrise

We steamed on but where finally caught by the wind. The mizzen was already reefed. Together with the stay sail a perfect configuration for a beam reach in strong winds. Engine of sheets eased and of we went 8 knots approaching the Reykjanes peninsula. The wind was still young so the sea relatively calm but still totally white by the strong apposing currents, the over falls. No place to be in a bad sea. We gybed and where soon under the lee of the shore. A perfect sail. The geysers ashore where sending of big clouds of steam together with a certain smell… Rounding Skafloes light we hardened up the sheets but where not able to fetch Reykjavik.

By this time the wind had become a full SE’ly gale and was keeping us from making it to Reykjavik in one tack. I was on watch with the two Vikings from Isafjordur and it was great to see them in there element. Kristjan has always been a fisherman and knows these waters and winds very well. When I proposed to hide out in Hvalfsfjordur he did not oppose!

Marjan also thought it a good idea to drop anchor for a couple of hours and wait for the wind to ease of a little. We entered the fjord and it looked like it was on fire. The rising sun on the mountain range set of an orange glow. The water seemed to be boiling by the spouts the wind whipped up! Someone suggested they were thermal pools and surely it was steam… The first squall came in and this theory was of the table! The spectacle lasted until we were at anchor right at the head of the fjord. Absolutely stunning!!

We decided to leave for Reykjavik that afternoon. When we got under way again I called the Harbour office. The winds had eased of a little but it was still windy. The harbour master told me not to come in. A cruise ship had stranded in the entrance and the winds where still too strong. We took up another anchorage for the last evening of the trip and where not sorry for it. The lights and surroundings in Iceland never seem to fail and plenty of secluded spots to drop anchor. It was the perfect end to a perfect trip. We brought summer to Iceland for it turned out to be the last gale for a while…

  Gijs