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Date: 05 Jun 2010 23:53:00
Title: Moored in Raufarhofn - 6 miles from the Arctic Circle

66:27.486N 015:56.549W Saturday night

A long day on the water today with very little to see. We left Vopnafjordur at 9am this morning in thick fog. A young girl and her father who had been down to see us last night were there again taking photographs of us as we left. I felt guilty for not inviting them onto Saxon Blue last night but we were knackered at the time. Apart from them, the place was deserted as I just followed our track on the GPS back out to sea. As soon as we left the harbour, we could see nothing and it stayed that way for most of the day. We passed many a happy hour discussing our favourite soups.

We were rounding Langanes, the point on the far North East of Iceland. We needed to give it a few miles offing to avoid the tidal races but, to be honest, we wouldn't have seen it if we were 50 meters off. I went to get my head down for a few hours after lunch and the weather cleared a bit for Andrea and Kali to see some land but we were many miles off by then so not much to see. Andrea had a productive time thinking through her art project and Kali was working on some columns that she's hoping a New Zealand yachting magazine may publish. After that, it was soon time for a monster curry fest while we were underway. That's proving a good plan as it means we arrive well fed rather then rushing around trying to get dinner on after we tie up.

As we approached the harbour, the mist really came down again so I couldn't see the leading lights until I was nearly inside. It was a bit freaky actually. It's easy enough to follow the GPS plotter but it's not always accurate. The depth sounder was confirming our position accurately but, nonetheless, I was glad to see the docks emerge out of the gloom. A few locals were driving around in cars and they waved but there was no welcoming committee. We chose a berth near the lifeboat, got set up and came in calmly. One guy came along and told us it was OK to stay where we were but that was about it as far as interactions go. A while later, some lads told Kali that the townsfolk were having a big party for "Fishermens Day" and invited her along but I don't think she'll take them up on it.

Andrea and I just went for a walk to the lighthouse on the peninsula and had a look at this place during a brief break in the fog. It has an amazing natural harbour with a scattering of houses and a couple of warehouses and docks. That's it. Outside town there are miles and miles of nothing. It seems very isolated and the Arctic is just out of town. The wind is biting cold and I can see why the locals don't want to get out of their cars.

I had a good look at a local fishing boat that's out of the water next to us. They seem to start with a double-ended hull like a Viking ship. Then they add an engine which must pull the stern down badly as you accelerate as there isn't much buoyancy there. So then they add a skirt around the waterline to increase the floatation so you end up with a pointed stern on top of a square waterline which begs the question of why not just have a transom and get the internal volume as well. Some of the boats seem to have found this so successful that they put a similar skirt on the bow so the whole things looks like a cross between a pilot gig and a hovercraft. It's funny to see how the pull of tradition affects designs. Everyone designs a better boat.

The sun is out from the fog again now so I can see the small fishing boats illuminated in the pink light. Hopefully, we'll get some clear weather tomorrow as we have another long day to get us round to Husavik where we intend to spend a few days exploring and maybe get into the interior of Iceland.

Harvey

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