Monday, 7 December 2015

The aftermath of Storm Desmond

Winter storm Desmond left us with three mooring lines chaffed through and 50cm of snow on the boat cover.

Then came the blue skies and a magical winter landscape.

Much achieved this weekend. 

A trip to the hardware store to get 20 metres of polypropylene to back up the backup mooring lines. We have the most elaborate cat's cradle of lines yet.

I began the installation of the new Raymarine Evolution Pilot but rapidly decided to defer to Oscar the local technician.

We visited 3 police stations trying to find out about importing guns for next year's Greenland trip. Finally ended up with Jonas at Kopnafjordur who seems to control all the gun licensing in Iceland. It seems that a European gun licence is all we need. Failing that he will fix the papers for us to buy a gun in Iceland. From Aki we learned that we can hire in Scoreby Sound from so all is coming together.

Great weekend.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Trying to find our way into the boat

A lot of snow!

Winter maintenance

Came with a list of winter jobs which includes installing a new Pilot (wired in parallel to the old one which will have its gyro disabled) and a heated towel rail in the heads. However it took a couple of hours of snow clearing just to get aboard!

Glad we came as a couple of mooring lines have chaffed through. Just having a leisurely breakfast contemplating the work list.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Getting things ready for winter

We have just had a long weekend in Reykjavik to get the boat ready for the long, dark northern winter. 

There being no business devoted to servicing the sailing community here it took a long time to piece together the various threads that we needed to follow up. We quickly learned that doing business here takes a lot of time as everyone wants to help, everyone wants to chat and, astonishingly everyone has time in abundance! 

For example we set off to find a marine electronics dealer as we want to replace out pilot. We thought this would be easy as there was a shop a few yards from the boat. They only do commercial systems so a bike ride took us to the Furuno dealer who gave us coffee, chatted about trade embargoes, told us where to catch mackerel, described the musical talents of the Isafjordur harbour master's son (, traditional boat building, ship yards in Turkey, printed off instructions as to how to find a B&G dealer and finally sold us a new Navtex antenna. He couldn't conclude the transaction that day so back we went the next morning for more chats and more coffee. In total the purchase took 4 hours but we emerged much wiser and now have a working Navtex!

The B&G guy had gone to a funeral and the Raymarine man on the other side of town was due back from Barcelona the next day so, again, back we went next day. I had spent a couple of hours at the Southampton Boatshow trying to get sense and not sales talk out of the Raymarine  guys. In Iceland all became much clearer. A very knowledgable guy explained why the Gyro maybe screwing up my SG3 and talked nothing but sense. Although we don't yet have a price from him he will almost certainly get the business.

Then the guys from Yanmar arrived on the boat. Sales manager Björn, workshop manager Jon and technician Rudolph. We talked about 1000 hour service and gave them 6 months to get the work done. Rudolph was back the next morning and stripped out the injectors and turbo and took them off for service. Great customer service from Yanmar.

Even the jobs delegated to me went well! We now have fully functional steering, a working Navtex and an external aerial for the Iridium. The new boat cover fitted like a glove. We bought a couple of grp propane cylinders and a regulator to match. We discovered a bad bit of fraying in the middle of the mainsheet so went on a grand tour to a fishing net factory to find a bit of remaindered stock that fitted the bill. All tax free of course so worth the effort!

It was't all hard graft. The cafe 10 metres from our boat proved popular and we got soaked on an otherwise delightful cycle out to the peninsula where more coffee was consumed in the golf club.

Our cosy winter berth is in the Maritime Museum and the prime exhibit is the Odinn - a retired Coastguard vessel launched in 1960 that had faught the Cod Wars. We took the tour and in doing so got some aerial photos of us, the smaller neighbour. We also saw the device they had used to cut the UK trawler men's nets (see below) and saw the stuff that had changed in our lifetime. All that massive 60's, 70's and 80's technology that could now be replaced with an iPad! Then there were the antique dive fins on display which were actually identical to mine! Ho hum maybe it's time we retired too!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


Somehow I manged not to post some of the best Iceland photos as we sailed around Iceland so here is the post script.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Short trip to secure winter berth

A short cruise today imperfectly timed to coincide with heavy rain. At least the wind had died when we reversed into our winter berth tied up alongside Vilborg to port and with the museum's coast guard cutter to starboard. Ultra secure and a cafe 20 metres away. Perfect. 

The only downside is Ronnie's mobile phone leaped out of his breast pocket as he was securing the lines and is now on the seabed 3m below the keel.

We will be back to check on the boat for a long weekend in 5 weeks.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The bad weather catches up with us

The first day in Reykjavik was sunny and warm! We got loads done which included getting the sails off and confirming that we would move to our winter berth on Friday.

Then the clouds and rain came in as a big Atlantic depression (970) tracked south of Iceland and we congratulated ourselves on arriving in port when we did. It looks like autumn is starting here and a couple of Norwegian boats are hoping that more is not on the way as they are trying to get back to Stavanger.

We only met one boat this season who made it to Greenland. He managed to get through Prince Christians Sund but then had to sail south to Cape Farvell to avoid the curtain of ice that guarded the eastern approaches. Hopefully things will be easier next season.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Sunset and journey's end

We docked in Reykjavik at sunset with the orange sky in the north west reflected by the opera house. A spectacular port to finish our journey.

Iceland's westerly point

At 4am the fjord was flat calm and the anchor came up with a ton of kelp attached. We motored back out through the narrows and quickly picked up the cool northerlies once more. But this time they were stronger and with them came steep and quartering seas. 

We started off on a dead run but the seas made it too hard to steer and so we set a course that would have taken us to the Azores before gybing to round the Snaesfjell Peninsula. With winds to 27 knots we just flew a few scraps of sail so as not to intimidate the crew. Everything and everybody got shaken around a bit but my crew were made of tough stuff today and stood their watches without a thought of sickness. Ronnie's only regret was that he had shaved the day before and rid himself of the fur that would have kept him warm at the wheel. It was a very cold and murky day with thick cloud hanging low over the headlands. Then, as we rounded the final headland, everything changed. Quite suddenly and without warning.

First a weird  rock formation appeared flanking the light house and then a promise of sunshine. We emerged from the haar into a glittering volcanic world of mountains, icecap, sea cliffs and sparkling sea. The wind briefly died and the seas flattened as we headed east drinking in the wonderful vistas. Cloud was cascading down the whole leeward ridge and green fields were lit up in the evening light.

We had thought that our chosen anchorage would be a haven of peace and tranquillity after the discomforts of the day. But, as we motored into the bay icy catabatic blasts came hurtling off the cliffs at 30 knots blowing the tops off the waves. We crept in close under the cliffs and let the anchor go in 7m with 40m of chain. It bit immediately and we could relax and enjoy the magnificent setting that was Arnarstapi.