Alongside in Tvoroyri, Faroe Islands

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Fri 28 May 2010 09:12
61:33.258N 006:48.528W Thursday Night

Well, a bit of a long time coming, this one but I think I have a good excuse...

We set off from Stornoway as planned at 4am on Tuesday morning. It was really calm but that didn't last and we hit a northerly wind as soon as we were around the peninsula. From then on, the wind didn't really alter the whole way to the Faroes. Not only did that mean that we couldn't sail (well, we could as Greg tried but we were so far off course that it would have taken us days longer to get here) but it also made the trip both slower and very uncomfortable.

On a calm day, we can motor at around 8.5 knots with the engine just humming along at about 1800 revs in overdrive. For the whole of this trip, though, we were constantly hitting into oncoming seas that slowed us down to around 5 knots and sometime almost brought us to a halt. The bow was pogoing up and down and poor Greg was airborn much of the trying to sleep in the forward cabin. We were taking green water over the bow all the time.

The result was a long, uncomfortable passage. The constant noise and motion made it hard to sleep and we all felt pretty queasy - apart from Andrea, of course. I was sick a couple of times which isn't too bad but I really got hit by it on Wednesday morning and really struggled to get up for my watch at 4am. I'm very glad I persevered, though, as I felt a lot better on deck and that was certainly the lowest point so I felt a lot more cheerful afterwards. I must admit that there was an hour or so when I really wondered why on earth I was doing this and how much longer I'd be able to keep it up.

We had hoped to reach the Faroes around midday on Wednesday but our slow progress meant that we were struggling to get here in the light that day. Luckily, it's light until after 11pm so that gave us a lot more leeway. We finally got some sailing in as the wind veered a bit and we sailed up the East coast of Suduroy at 8 knots wondering why it couldn't have been like this all the way.

Just as we were getting near, we had a strange incident as Kali slipped down the companionway steps and, in holding herself, gave her neck a real wrench. She sat down at the top of the steps and then fainted. Luckily, Andrea had already got a hold on her and managed to stop her toppling down into the boat. As it was, Kali slid down the steps and into the Galley. It took her a few seconds to come round and she didn't know where she was initially. We were all very concerned and Andrea stayed up until 1am with her. She seems fine now but it was a very worrying incident.

The scenery here is beautiful. The islands all have cliffs along much of their shoreline and there are offlying stacks and smaller islands. The whole lot have a series of horizontal strata that look a lot like the Yorkshire pennines. They are all slightly tipped so that the East side is lower, making it look as though the islands are floating at a jaunty angle.

There are no trees and, despite the name which means Sheep Islands, not that many sheep. The hillsides are mostly rock with a thin sprinkling of grass. No long drystone walls. From the sea, there are precious few signs of habitation atall. We followed a local ferry into the fjord just as it got dark and then we could see a few houses. It was too late and we were too tired to attempt coming into the harbour so we just anchored up behind a small island as recommended by the pilot book. As always, we all felt better straight away and had a great meal of baked spuds. That was it for me. I was out for the count as soon as I stopped eating and went straight to bed.

We had a massive breakfast this morning and then contacted Torshavn radio to book in. After a comedy misunderstanding about our callsign (2ctz2 - the guy kept getting it wrong by missing off the first 2 and was getting a bit irate when I wouldn't confirm that he'd got it right) he said we were clear to enter the harbour and would be met by customs. We should call the harbourmaster for a berth. Well we called but we got no answer so, in the end, we just pulled up the anchor and headed over to the town which we could clearly see from our anchorage.

We motored past the town and up the fjord before deciding to come back and moor on the outside of the fish dock. As we approached, a guy jumped out of a car and motioned for us to go straight in and he pointed us to a berth inside along the wall. Just as a hailstorm struck, we came in alongside and he promptly disappeared with Andrea. By the time we'd finished tying up, she was back with the key to the office and a form to fill in. The harbourmaster had seen us anchored in the bay so was expecting us to come in soon. Just then, the customs guy arrived. He'd seen us on our way into the fjord and was very complimentary about Saxon Blue. In no time flat, we were cleared in for customs and immigration and that was that - our first foreign port of call.

A few passers-by stopped for a look at the boat as we fiddled around and then headed of to explore the fleshpots of the Faroes. It's a very scandinavian place. So different to Scotland and the Hebrides in particular. The houses are mostly wooden, in a land with absolutely no trees. They're pretty big, too and comfortable. Some even have turf roofs. Everyone has a newish car and the whole place looks prosperous and jolly. The Tourist Information woman was super helpful and let Kali use her computer for internet access. Then we wandered along past some more local boats which look like mini viking longships. Eventually, we came to an art gallery and cafe but it was shut.

Pretty soon, the owner/artist showed up and led us around the sculpture garden. It was all his sculptures in amongst a collection of plants and natural exhibits including a Sperm Whale jawbone and a chunk of North Atlantic coral - now extinct thanks to the efforts of the trawlers. We saw his orangery and then went inside for tea and apple cake. He was a really nice guy and we talked for ages before we set off back to the boat.

Greg and I then set to trying to coax the port navigation light back to life - ultimately unsuccesfully - and finding that it had a sticker on the back saying "Sample only, not for sale". Terrific. Mind you, it's only there to to let other ships see us and is a legal requirement, not to mention that they cost £100s each so you can't expect them to last for long. Thing is, I've already had one go the last time Greg came on board so maybe it's his fault. Time for a free and frank exchange of views with Discovery Yachts tomorrow, I think.

Just as we were finishing up, the artist guy came along with his son in law and granddaughter and asked if he could look around the boat. So he came on and had and Gin & Tonic with Andrea and we had a great chat about the Faroes and other countries. The thing was, all this time, a stream of other locals were coming down for a look. We had cars drive by, people walk by, the local bus stop alongside us as it passed in each direction, the woman from the Tourist Information office. I think everyone on the island came down for a look at us. I'm not used to being so exotic! The people I talked to were very friendly, if reserved in a Scandinavian sort of way. They all said how beautiful Saxon Blue is - which is true - and asked where we'd come from and where we were going. I think they all talked about it because Andrea went to the hotel up the road to ask if they were serving food and they said "Oh, you're from the boat". If we stay here too long, we'll be running tours.

Anyway, we finally got to eat our tea at about 9pm and I'm writing this at 11pm and it's still light outside. Drizzling, mind you, but light nonetheless. There are still people stopping for a look at us.

So here we are building up our strength again to do our next crossing - a longer one to Iceland. I'm not keen on doing the same thing again. We need to pick a weather forecast that's kind to us and the boat. Either no wind or some wind from the right direction. This is supposed to be enjoyable, after all. Were the Faroes worth the effort, though? Definitely yes. On the way into the fjord, I wondered why anyone would want to live in so remote a place. Now, I think I would quite like to live here myself - or at least I can really understand why they do. It's very special and not like anywhere else I've been.


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