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.


A few moments of panic disturbed the tranquil evening approach to our anchorage at Talksfjordur when I realised we had no power in our engine starting battery. We noticed it when the Rev clock started reading zero and the ignition lights went dim. I had thought we had been charging the engine battery via the invertor but it seems this circuit had been dead all along and the battery drained by running the alternator fan. I am assuming this dead circuit is something to do with the 12 volt engine relay being controlled by the defunct alternator but I don't fully understand why this circuit failed. Anyway it was easily rectified and by the time we had the anchor down the battery  had had most of its health restored.

Ashore was lovely. Loads of bird life with Terns, Turnstones, Redshank, Ravens and Cormorants. A wonderful outdoor geothermal 25m pool, hot tub and sauna and a great restaurant serving lamb and fish. A perfect place to pause and drink in the sunset.

We took a advantage of a calm anchorage to inspect the anodes and ground plates. All done with a remote camera and all was good so no need to dive- phew!

Down wind to Reykjavik

At midnight the wind suddenly died and by morning we had flat seas and some sunshine. We chose not to take shore leave as this destination was too good to rush and warranted a return trip by road. Instead we took advantage of the northerlies for our day sail to Reykjavik. Incredibly in the last 1000 miles of sailing we have rarely seen the wind forward of the beam.

We motored South East until the wind increased and then put out the genoa which carried us downwind at 6 knots in gentle seas for the rest of the day. With 16 miles to go the wind died and the motor came on but it had been a lovely day of sailing with the Snaesfjell as our backdrop and reminder of the wild north of Iceland. Already Ronnie is talking of an expedition to the north west fjords and we will be bound northwards again with Shimshal in the Spring. But for now I think we are all relishing the thought of Reykjavik living for the next few days.

Boat jobs, of course, abound but hopefully we will find some time to explore the environs and get the bikes out before we fly home Sunday.

I have been sailing for 3 weeks with crew addicted to lists, order and punctuality. So here is a list of dock side boat duties purely for their benefit! You may infer from this that I am not really into 'lists'.

1. Put Shimshal in her winter berth securing her safely with the massive fisherman's warps we bought in Isafjordur.
2. Enquire about a diesel engineer to do a thorough service, winterisation and fit new 12 volt alternator if available.
3. Enquire about Raymarine dealer to seek a solution to our networking problem.
4. Remove pilot and take back to UK
5. Clean top sides and fit fender blanket
6. Fit cockpit tent
7. Remove staysail and genoa 
8. Move all diesel cans to the cockpit 
9. Remove the broken steering spindle and take back to UK
10. Remove wind sensors and stow safely
11. Complete wiring for sat phone and solar panels.
12. Boracol decks
13. Major clean up below decks.
14. Laundry 

We are back in Iceland in September so the rest of the winterisation jobs and the winter cover can be done then.

Good that I'm sailing with a couple of self professed 'completer finishers'!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Just 172 miles to Greenland!

At the point where this photo was taken we were just 172 miles from the nearest point on the Greenland coast. A brisk northerly wind, drizzle and mist had done their best to keep us in Isafjordur but once around the first major headland the wind died off, the clouds parted and we motored south into glittering sunshine. 

Two whales seen today in separate sightings. The first was a giant tail perpendicular to the water. The second was the long rolling porpoising of a whale approaching a bait ball.

What wind there is is coming from Greenland bringing with it an icy chill. So we are all suited up in several layers of smart wool, thinsulate and wind proofs. Ronnie is defrosting down below and the heating is chugging away.

Our plan is to sail north again along this coast in April but, given the August chill, it might be wise to put the return journey off until May!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The generation game

Excuse this blog as it is only meant for my techie friends and to act as a reminder to me.

We docked without mishap in a blustery Isafjorder and Muki the harbour master immediately made half a dozen phone calls to find a marine electrician for us. One hour later Hannis arrived and set about diagnosing why both hour 24 volt and our 12 volt regulator had given up the ghost. Here is the answer to the riddle that took 3 hours of his time to find and partially fix.

The 24 volt alternator ignition cable is routed from the 12 volt alternator to the switch panel and thence to the 24 volt relay under the chart table and thence to the alternator. The 12 volt alternator is defunct so we ran a bypass wire from the ignition cable at the 12v to the relay. So now we have 24 volts and we can manage without 12v until Reykjavik where we can repair or replace!

Thank you Hannis.

Fresh baked bread and a short day to Isafjorder

For some reason the only place deemed warm enough to rise the dough was in my bed! The things we have to do to enjoy a fine breakfast in a wild anchorage!

The anchor was very well dug in but came up without drama and we turned our backs to the wind and headed to Isafjorder. Mid summer yet layer after layer was added to keep out the cold.

The far north west

We rounded the cape and then finally turned south hugging a rugged cliff scape swathed in mist. Glad to out of the swell we ducked past a wrecked ship and a ship wreck's refuge hut to enter the enchanting Hesteryi a Fjord and a well earned breakfast at anchor.