Tecla – Icelandic Adventure.
New Ship – New Country
I‘d never been sailing in Iceland or on Tecla so this was a double first for me.
What I like about remote places is that the people you meet are welcoming and pleased to see you. They seem to be secure in their communities and proud of where they live. In 8 days in Iceland I only saw one policeman very very briefly. Not at the airport but following us for about 30 seconds in a police car in Reykjavik.
Was it cold in Iceland, Yes and No, on arrival there was no need for more than 2 layers on top and one below. But later when sailing and the wind picked up from the north it did require 5 top layers and 2 below but we were less than 30 miles from the Arctic Circle!
Isafjordur Maritime Museum
The flight into Isafjordur was an interesting landing tight against the fjord slopes and right beside the fjord. With a few hours to spare I visited the two main attractions in town.
Isafjordur Maritime Museum.
I really enjoyed this museum housed in one of the oldest buildings in Iceland. It tells the stories of whaling, herring fishing, boat building and associated trades. There is a wonderful display of the tools for making barrels and barrels in many stages of construction.
Housed on three levels up steep wooden steps you climb right up to the observation tower for good view around the town.
There was a 20 minute video as a Nordic Noir historic re-enactment documentary of the local fisherman in gritty detail.
The House of Culture
The old Hospital has been converted to a Library, online research and exhibition centre. There was a fantastic display of black and white photos of local farmers and fisher folk.
The next morning, we set off and as soon as we left harbour we set the sails, jib, staysail, main and mizzen and entered the long Isafjaroardiup.
Now sooner had we settled down to a lovely sail with a good breeze from the North West when we spotted some hump back whales about a mile away; not close enough to photo unfortunately.
We sailed around Rytu Headland and entered Aoalvik Bay and anchored off Latar. Going shore we walked to Rekavikurvatn Lake and studied the flora and fauna. Spotting Artic Fox footprints in a muddy patch of the track but we only saw one in the distance as we returned to Aoalvik Bay. Signs of the US cold war listening post could be seen on top of Straumnesfjall and the history was written up on a sign board in the shore side.
Next morning, we set off for Honrvik Bay and Hornbiara Cliffs famous for the view of the nesting birds. Round Skorar Headland the wind went against us and a steady drizzle set in. We got to Hornvik Bay in the afternoon but the clouds and rain stayed with us all day and overnight, not that there was any darkness being just 30 miles from the Arctic Circle.
After a hearty breakfast there had been no improvement in the weather and the forecast for the day suggested no improvement. Hauling our anchors up proved to be bit of a problem, one had twisted itself around the chain of the other and it took an hour to untangle it. Job done we thought but when we came to get the second anchor up it had managed to know itself. The only solution was to man winch the anchor on board with chain still on the bottom of the sea. To untie the knots we had to cut the shackle with an angle grinder, not an ideal solution! However eventually we got under way and very gradualy the weather improved and by the end of the day we were in a beautiful fjord with waterfalls and glaciers in view. We stayed here, Hesteyrarfjordur overnight.
Visit to Hesteyri and the Stekkeyd fish factory.
The factory has originally been for whaling but as that industry declined in Arctic waters herring were processed at the plant. On the way back to Tecla we stopped in the welcoming Hesteyri Café and watched the Arctic Fox Cubs come and go. A wonderful morning.
We had a brilliant sail in the afternoon as we headed for Hrafnfjordur.
We anchored behind a spit of land at Skpeyi and saw hundreds of Eider duck in a flock by the shore. After supper we went ashore for a walk into the valley that was part of the trek from Hornvík to Reykjafjörður and past the mighty Cliff of Gígjarsporshamar. We went as far as the rickety wooden fairy bridge across the river. The meadow below the cliff was like an alpine pasture, serene green and so peaceful. On the way back down two old boys were talking about how when they died they wanted to go somewhere like this, not drugged up in a hospital bed. We then separated our paths as we explored a small waterfall. Henry went missing and I thought oh no; he’s gone and dropped into the waterfall on purpose to end his life! Henry reappeared five minutes later much to my relief. It turns out he was taking some photos of the dramtic waterfall.
Back on board to another superb supper from Jet we laughed at the ancient frolics.
The last full day arrived far to soon and we sailed south westwards down the Hrafnfjordur towards the main Isafjaroardiup. Our ambition today was to enjoy the sailing and look out for Humpback Whales. Well the wind was with for most of the day but heading back east towards Isafjordur itself we had to drop the sails and motor into the headwind.
There she blows! Not so much blow but a complete Humpback breach. Even though I had camera in hand by the time I pointed it in the right direction all I got a distant splash. So my memory is clear, I’ve seen a whale breach, and that memory will never leave me.
The broaching humpback was just one part of a very memorable voyage, memorable for all the right reasons and never to be forgotten.