Visiting Hornstrandir

The day before yesterday a humpback whale came very close to the ship. As we were making our way downwind from Lonafjordur to Veidelysufjordur we saw a blow close by and headed for it, to have a look. But before we could get to where we saw it, the whale started to head for us! It surfaced a few times, breathing in deep and then set of for the deep again. Only to return a few minutes later. It seemed to be checking us out just as much as we were checking it out! 

When the whale left we were able to retrieve a new weather report, unlucky for us, the weather report had changed a lot since the last time we had cellphone reception. The weather report showed a gale warning for the next day (Thursday) and today..

Gales in Hornstrandir are vicious. Winds come howling down into the fjords, dropping of the high cliffs and merging around some of the fingertips of the fjords. Being at anchor is no fun, but leaving the ship with the dinghy is even worse and becomes impossible very soon due to waves and wind gusts. 

This particular gale was warned to be 24 to 30 m/s in the North of Hornstrandir.  Not a place we wanted to be in. 

We had anchor watches all through the night, but the wind increased gradually and without any real vertical winds. So bright and early in the morning we got up, got dressed as best we could and went outside. We reefed the mizzen, got underway with mizzen and forestaysail set and made our way for Isafjordur. 

Making our way out of Veidelysufjordur

At first Josephine and I were looking at each other and wondering is this reef was really necessary, but thinking about reefing means reefing.. so we left it in. Then half an hour later the wind started to really pick up. The wind force 6 we started with and were sailing down wind from, turned into a force 7. Measuring 22 knots of wind as we were racing downwind at 8 knots, with only mizzen and forestaysail set (so a true wind of 28/30 kn). 

As we made our way around Bjarnarnúpur the wind really picked up, there were whirl winds at the bottom of the cliffs, sending salt water flying. In the middle of the Isafjordurdjup we lost the wind a little, but it felt like water sprouts were chasing us. We started the engine to make sure we got into Isafjordur before the wind force 9 and 10 would start. 

I have been happy to see Isafjordur every time I have sailed here, but not as happy as this time. With the water behind us turning into a sea of foam and vertical blowing water, we made our way to the inner harbor and found a beautiful spot alongside. We were moored around 11h in the morning and at 13:00h the water of the harbor seemed to look exactly like the water outside! A small yacht at anchor was being blown of her anchor almost twice per hour until they found a better spot to anchor. The small boats in the inner harbor were shaking and rocking and we were pushed into our ropes with a force that was extreme. But downstairs there was hot chocolate milk, the group was having showers or naps and in the afternoon the wind was howling but our group was snug downstairs, watching a movie. 

We are lucky we got to see three of the fjords of Hornstrandir, Hrafnsfjordur, Lonafjordur and Veidelysufjordur. The hike the group went on was spectacular and the sailing was fun! Tomorrow part of our small School at Sea group leaves, two will remain as our crew! It was amazing to set sail with such a cool bunch of people that I thought I knew well, but know even better now!  

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