It is very nearly the end of our season in Iceland, and our last 12 day adventure has given us the opportunity to re-visit many of our favourite places as well as some new ones as we sailed from Akureyri on the Northern Iceland coast back to Reykjavik.
It may be the end of August, but the weather was glorious and sunny for our first day sail – unfortunately we lacked a bit of wind, but we motored out of Eyjafjord enjoying the scenery. Our luck was in as we approached the pretty island of Hrisey, as our humpback whale from last week decided to pay us another visit. We spent about an hour watching him before continuing our journey up to Siglufjord.
The high pressure system that we have enjoyed all season has finally moved south, and with it situated over Ireland, the low pressure systems are directed our way. We spent the day in Siglufjord avoiding a North East gale and pouring rain, before continuing our passage to Hofsos.
We had a great sail from Hofsos across to Strandir, and with another gale forecast decided to anchor in Ingolfsfjord, described by the pilot book as a safe haven in any weather. What a good job, the barometer crashed 26 millibars in 18 hours and the wind blew from the SW, first 20 knots then 30 then 40 then topped out at 57 knots. The last time I saw that much wind and spray I was in the southern ocean!! Velvet Lady was perfectly happy lying to her anchor, whilst the rest of us watched in awe as the sea state picked up so much we could see rainbows in the spindrift.
We played cards, listened to music, told stories and finished last weeks Guardian crossword – still the wind blew. The wind finally tapered off late afternoon, the sky cleared and with the sunset the moon and stars appeared. The barometer rose just as quickly as it fell, and by midnight, it was flat calm in the anchorage and the sky was ablaze with the greenish hue of the northern lights. What a mix of weather in 24 hours.
We continued our passage westwards in favourable winds, sailing past the magnificent Drangajokull glacier, past the bird cliffs at Hornvik, past the golden sandy beaches of Adalvik and into Bolungarvik, a tiny fishing village just south of Jokulfirdir. After a quick look around and stock up, we nipped across to Jokulfirdir and anchored in our favourite fjord, Lonafjord. When we visited here in June, there was so much snow on the ground we were limited on where we could land in the dinghy. This time the boys were able to take the dinghy all the way across the east side of the bay, and climb up the hill alongside one of the many waterfalls.
Sadly with a timescale to keep to, we needed to keep heading south and have to leave further exploration of the westfjords to our adventurers next season. We stopped at the fishing villages of Flateyri and Patreksfjord on our way south, before our final overnight passage to Reykjavik. After a season of 24 hour daylight, we are just getting used to having a few hours of dark again. As it went dark, it was eerie to be able to see the glow of both Reykjavik and Keflavik from more than 50 miles away. They lit up the sky like an early dawn.
We are now in Reykjavik and preparing for our ocean passage home to UK. We are sad to be leaving Iceland after having such an enjoyable summer, but excited about starting our winter programme which takes us south to Spain, Portugal, The Canaries, Madeira and the Azores. See our website for more details.
We will be returning to Iceland for the summer in 2008, and the programme will be on the website shortly.