Whales and Dolphins

Mike Jaques
Sun 17 Jul 2022 15:10

64:09N 21:56W



Thursday 14th. 

Rested and relaxed after our fish supper we were up prompt and away before 07.30. As ever the wind failed to deliver and we faced a day of

flat calm. We knocked around the idea of maybe splitting the leg into two with another stop in Patreksfjordur, but settled on a long passage to reach Olafsvik as the forecast for Friday looks windy and, unsurprisingly, from the wrong direction.

Motored all day. 90 miles. Bright day with little cloud. Not much to see despite assiduous lookout until a lively encounter with two humpback whales feeding about 2 miles off Olafsvik. We first spotted a screeching cloud of arctic terns feeding on the fish brought to the surface by the whales’ action.

Friday 15 th.

Quick consensus to stay for the day on Friday as wind direction is again unhelpful.

An enthusiastic lady in the tourist information persuaded us to hire a car and explore, following an anti-clockwise circuit around Snaefelsjokull. Derek wasn’t paying attention and discovered he was the duty driver. So we set off, a posse of pensioners on a day trip.

Mike navigated and quickly assumed the role of tour guide quoting extensively from the visitor’s map. First, to Svodufoss (one of many waterfalls) a short distance off road before Rif. The terrain between Rif and Hellisandur is a nationally significant nesting site for arctic terns. Swarms of the birds either side and across the road acting very aggressively towards cars and people. Gareth stopped to make a short video and was quickly attacked. Less inspiring was the street art in Hellisandur, lauded as the capital of street art in Iceland. Hard to imagine how bad the competition must be.

On to Ondverdarnes. Westernmost point of the peninsula, formerly a farm and now a lighthouse. Long drive through lava fields slowly covering in vegetation. Spectacular view of cliffs with fulmars and kittiwakes nesting and a rock arch.

We continued to Sacholl crater, a pocket-sized volcano, reached by an award-winning steel walkway which gave us a few thousand steps, 20 floors climbed and the second encounter that day with hard to credit artistic merit.

On via Hellnar village to Arnstapi where we had lunch in a delightful local cafe not recently influenced by interior design fashions. Lamb soup, vegetable soup, fish and mash. Some local woollens for sale but little tourist tat. Mike and Paul walked the coastal path back to Hellnar. Gareth entertained diners on the piano for a while and Derek dozed.

Over the mountain pass then back to Olafsvik, now in low cloud and rain Turned east up the bay to the larger town of Grundarfjordur. This scenic harbour is set under a circle of spectacular cliffs. It would make a good stopover but is further in to the bay than Olafsvik. Apparently, the peak Kirkjufell is the most photographed in the country. Not very obvious why that should be.

Saturday 16th July

We were hoping for an early start but wind was stubbornly high, despite consistent low forecasts. So we lingered and followed Ireland’s win over New Zealand before casting off mid morning.

Clear of the harbour the wind was immediately lower so a mixed sail and motor along the fjord and round past the Ondverdarnes lighthouse. Wind shifts left us on a fair course and we enjoyed a few peaceful hours of sailing on course without the motor. Ten miles out of Reykjavik we were visited by a pod of what we think were white-beaked dolphins with a distinct white flash on their backs. Real show-offs, fun to watch.

Rafted up in Reykjavic yacht harbour by 1.00 am outside ‘Adventure of Hornet’ a joint services boat heading for Greenland.

Delightful days and fun memories for Gareth, Paul and Derek to take home from Umiak.