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Date: 30 May 2010 14:19:00
Title: Half-way between Faroes and Iceland

63:39.810N 009:56.463W Sunday 13:30hrs

Well, here we all are in the middle of a very empty ocean. I haven't seen a ship since we left Faroes yesterday evening and there are even precious few seabirds in this sea. It's overcast but pretty calm and we're all feeling good.

We spent Friday going for an amazing walk across the hills of Suderoy, the southernmost Faroe Island. We had to get a taxi to the start which was driven by a guy from Fife who had the most amazing accent - a mix of strong Scottish with Danish. Turns out we had seen him powered Paragliding the day before over the village. The walk was following a procession of Viking age cairns between two of their villages. The roads now take a different route but this was the direct one for walking to "things" which were like a local parliament crossed with a riot. The cairns took us away from the very few green fields near the coast and up into the bleak interior. We climbed one rocky ridge and then looked down into a glacial bowl peppered with lakes. You could just make out the lines of the ancient routes by spotting the cairns tracking across.

It was great to be following in the direct footsteps of the original settlers and surprising that there is no visible track on the ground. It's only moss and peat so you leave a trail of footprints behind. There can never have been a lot of traffic and can't be much now. Eventually, we climbed another ridge and then looked down into fjord much like the one we'd left at Vagur. It had a great harbour and a more compact layout than Tvoroyri. We were told a bus was due to take us back but it didn't turn up so we went to the local pizza restaurant instead to wait and then one thing (object, not parliament) led to another and we stayed for pizza. Kali proved to be the best at pizza by eating around half her body weight. Greg was lamentably lightweight but had the last laugh the next day as he had by far the most left to eat for his lunch.

Time then for a taxi home through new rock-hewn tunnels past the university which is the size of a UK primary school. We looked at the weather information and decided that we should really get going for Iceland as we wanted to reach it in good weather and while we still had Greg around. The taxi driver had warned us that the pub we were moored next to was about to kick off big style - Friday night is mayhem night, it seems. True enough, cars started zooming up with locals laughing, cavorting and urinating. We decided to get the hell out of dodge and just dropped our lines and motored to the head of the fjord to anchor in the middle in blissful calm.

Next morning, we went back to the dock to fill up with water and Kali asked in the pub if we could get diesel. Turns out they sell the diesel as well so a really helpful and interesting guy helped us fill up while Kali chatted to the woman owner of the pub, the warehouse and indeed most of the waterfront. We got free access to the internet, a bag full of local beer and a tour around the old sail loft. We ended up in the attic of the pub which was built in 1849 and was the first shop on the island. It was also the shipping company office and had loads of old ledgers and photographs still around. In the attic, the guy handed me a sub machine-gun. Well, the room above a pub is the obvious place to keep your weapons. It came from the Second World War when the Faroese were great allies of the Brits and the gun was mounted on a fishing vessel to deter the Luftwaffe from sinking it. I'm not sure what the other half-dozen rifles were from but probably similar history.

By the time we left, I was very sad to go. Tvoroyri had been a great stop and we'd felt really at home and met some wonderful friendly and helpful people. I think the boat itself is a good way to meet people as it makes it obvious that you're a visitor and you need lots of help from the locals so it initiates some grand interactions.

The wind had got up from the North East as we left the harbour so we were soon sailing up the western side of the islands looking at the immense cliffs all along that coast. It was a superb day of sailing with the open ocean to our left and a succession of ever more unlikely looking rocks on our right. We were heading for a sound which runs between the main island and Vagur where the airport is. At the entrance there is a conical pinnacle of rock that looks like something out of Lord of the Rings. Beneath it were massive sea caves and around it a few tiny hamlets isolated on the coast. Another UK yacht called us on the VHF and we had a good chat with them before catching the tide up the sound (about 3-4 knots of tide with us) while we had our dinner and got ourselves sorted for heading out into the ocean again.

After our last experience, I was a bit apprehensive. This is a longer crossing than the last one and I didn't want a repeat of that. We'd studied the weather, though, so had good expectations of a smoother crossing. We set out from the sound at around 17:30 and managed to sail our course until 05:30 this morning when the wind got too light and flukey. Since then, we've been motoring with the mainsail up to steady us and give us a bit of extra drive. Touch wood, it's been a very comfortable crossing so far and everyone is feeling happy and sleeping much better. Andrea and I have just had a lovely lunch and the sun is even trying to come out. We've got our Iceland courtesy flag flying and we're ready for arrival into a new country again.

I'm looking forward to being able to spend more time in Iceland as we aren't leaving until the end of June so we'll have time to really explore some bits. The Faroes were wonderful and we'll definitely be back. They feel foreign and particular while still being local. I can't work out why more people don't visit.

Harvey

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