Moored up in Seydisfjorder, Iceland
Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Tue 1 Jun 2010 13:35
Now that was more like it! We all really enjoyed our crossing to Iceland and arrived feeling good. We sailed for most of the way but lost the wind for the middle section of the passage. Sailed again later on and most of the way here overall. Having left the Faroes on Saturday evening, we arrived here first thing Monday morning so 2 nights and 1 day - very good time.
Our first sight of Iceland was amazing and we were all surprised just how icy it is. I know the clue is in the name but... The mountains all have snow on the tops and there are still patches of it down to a couple of hundred feet above sea level. As we sailed towards it the sun came up - pretty well due North of us and just hung there intensely red before disappearing behind some clouds. Andrea and I were on watch when a pod of dolphins came by and the sea was peppered with seabirds. We still saw no ships but the voices on the VHF were Vikings and sounded as though they were retelling some age-old saga. I know they were only raggedy-arsed fishermen lying to each other but the sound was wonderful.
As we got nearer to Seydisfjorder, a bank of fog appeared across our path. It looked like a wall and I had to check the radar many times as we approached to satisfy myself that it was soft. It was indeed soft but really thick. I could barely see the water by the side of Saxon Blue at times so we proceeded using Radar and GPS with our fog horn blaring. Very mournful. The port is at the head of a 10 mile long fjord and we couldn't even see the sides until we were almost the whole way in. We hugged the Southern bank and found the small boat harbour (too shallow for us) with the old wooden pier outside recommended by the Pilot book. After a few circles around the harbour while we prepared lines and fenders, we came in and gently tied up.
A striking Icelandic woman asked us if we were staying there as it was now her dock. We said we'd like to and she promised to charge us less than the harbour would do. Thing is, by this time, the harbour master was already here and it soon became clear that berthing is actually free. Anyway, we preferred our cute and exclusive residence so decided to stay. Pretty soon, the Customs man turned up and filled in a few forms and that was it. Time for a massive breakfast.
As we ate, I looked up and I must admit that I said a naughty word. >From a solid wall of mist, a magic kingdom had emerged. All around us were high mountain peaks covered with snow. Below them was a barren landscape of scree and sparse grass crosshatched with waterfalls. The one nearest Saxon Blue must be 100 feet high. It's like we've parked the boat in middle of the alps. The buildings are scandinavian in design and the whole town looks lovely. It's the major port for the East of Iceland but only has 800 people or so living here.
Andrea and I set off to explore town and soon discovered an art gallery with bistro which had an excellent exhibition by a local guy. He was a bit of a character and outsider artist and the work is fascinating. It reminded me of Scrimshaw and I think came from that same tradition but was made from coke cans and other debris. The woman making our coffee said that she'd seen us emerge from the fog and that it looked "very beautiful". I think it says something that the locals think Saxon Blue has imporved the view.
Then it was off to find the swimming pool for a visit later and have a look around. In the middle of town there is a stream flowing through some steaming mud so it seems there is geothermal activity here although no volcanos.
It turns out that our neighbours are artists and the woman runs a renowned gallery in Rejkjavik. They're very friendly and don't seem to mind having us travellers tied up outside their home.
So, Greg is leaving us tomorrow to catch a flight back to Rejkjavik. It's been great having him as we can do 4-hours on, 8-hours off watches which is so much easier than 4-on, 4-off. A visitor from home was great, too. The first of a fine bunch, we hope. We'll miss him and his general cheekiness. We intend to stay here for a few days and explore the mountains and get ourselves into the Iceland vibe before continuing North around the coast.
PS - We went out to the Art Gallery for dinner which was a bit too greasy for my taste but we hung around afterwards and played Scrabble. Kali shot into the lead, I pulled back to within striking distance with a 7-letter spectacular but then Andrea shot out of the pack and took it on the line with some magnificent word-crafting. She was thrilled and is still basking in the glory.
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