White tailed eagles and Arctic fox are rarities amongst the spectacular wildlife that it is possible to see in Iceland. We were lucky enough to see both on the same day last week. We had been at anchor in Hesteyrifjord in 50 knots of wind, waiting for it to die down as the forecast promised. Mid afternoon with the wind averaging only 20 knots we decided to go for a short sail to the next fjord. As we poked our heads out the shelter of the fjord we were met with further blasts of wind of 50 knots, and decided to head back to the shelter of our anchorage. It must have been really windy the day before with icy wind blasting off the glacier!
As we turned and headed downwind, I saw Richard gazing curiously at the back stay, wondering what he was looking at I turned to see a fabulous white tailed eagle, hovering above the dinghy, just looking at us. I think he was sizing up how tasty the aeriels would be. Unfortunately we couldn’t get hold of the cameras soon enough. We continued on to our anchorage which was in the Hornstrandir national park, and as we lay the anchor saw the most amazing fox, with a huge bushy tail walking along the waters edge. No cameras again.
There were however many opportunities during the week for the cameras to come out as we sailed in an out of the fjords of the westfjords. The scenery was made even more spectacular than usual as in a flat calm we could see whole mountains reflected in the water. This time although the cameras were out it was hard to do justice to the scale of the beauty. We had a great time, and although we only had one guest this did not take away from the enjoyment of the trip. Mary enjoyed ‘gulping in the fresh air’ and felt like we were in a lake at the top of the world!
We had a visit from the coastguard. A fast rib was launched from the coastguard cutter and we were boarded (with permission) by two of the local coastguards. They were interested in who we are and what we were doing, and also enjoyed a fine sail as we were reaching along at 7 knots. They were telling us that they want to encourage all visiting yachts to take part in their ‘yacht monitoring scheme’. As we were already part of this, they didn’t have much explaining to do, and instead told us stories about the two polar bears that had recently been found along the coast in Skagifjord. The ice cap is now more than 50 miles away and they were investigating where they had come from and how they had come ashore. When we get there in two weeks time we will have to keep our eye out!