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Tuesday, 11 August 2015

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.