13 October 2018 | Suduroy, Faroe Islands
Since arriving in Vagur harbour on Suduroy in the Faroe Islands we have had unsettled weather. Quite a bit of rain, no wonder the islands are so green. Lots of wind blasting through in waves. We are currently sitting out the tail end of another gale with 25 - 30 knots of wind now but we saw gusts of 49 knots at about 3am. We are moored alonside a traditional wooden, gaff rigged boat M/V Thorshavn. The gusts were such that her ships bell, fastened to the mast, chimed itself several times! However, the harbour is a good secure haven.
We have made a couple of visits to the local supermarket and were blown away by the choice but also the joy of finding old favourites such as Chocolate Hobnobs, Tunnocks Caramel Wafers, strawberries and others. Being at sea and having lived in the clean Arctic air, we have a heightened sense of smell. We smelled the land before we saw it. Andy smelled the strawberries in the supermarket and could not resist them.
An essential component of everyday life - internet - was initially provided through the friendly Tourist Information Office come Library. We have a UK number and contract with EE but the Faroes are not part of the EU so prices for calls are more expensive than using our satellite phone and the internet ... So anticipating being here a week we bought a local sim card, assisted by a very helpful supermarket assistant who used her mobile to get online information for the service provided, then showed us the option sequence to set it up ourselves (no English option, Faroes only) using the free wifi at Tourist Information. Job done. Phone calls home, fast internet, enabling us to catch up on emails, news, life, the universe. Happy days. We are acquiring a growing number of local sim cards. Interestingly both our Greenland one and our Iceland one are still usable despite breaks away from the countries, particularly the Iceland one after not having used it for over 12 months. Never heard of a UK telecoms company being that flexible. We got some cadh out as they use the Kroner, thinking it would be Danish Kroner and we can use it in Greenland next year but the Faroes have their own version with beautiful pictures (see http://www.facebook.com/janice.fennymorewhite for more pictures).
The locals are all very friendly. As always we are trying to learn the correct pronounciation of local words but the basics are from Norse so we already have Thank You etc. The Faroes have a fascinating history and there are a lot of traditional old fishing boats here. On the quayside an open doorway caught Andy's attention and he popped his head in to see what they did. As the owner was busy with another man Andy went to leave only to be called back with "where are you from?" Well, where are we from ... UK, Norway, Svalbard, Iceland, Greenland ... For now we are from The Faroes. However, as in the words of Joshua Slocom, we started 'gamming' and very interesting it was.
Yesterday, anticipating leaving early Sunday morning (actually 4am depart) with another short weather break, we returned the key for the toilet/shower/laundry facility to the store then went and paid our dues with the Harbour Master. Instantly he was checking the weather with us, the tides and local currents. We talked about the fishing industry, variations in cod quality which we have seen ourselves in our Arctic travels and traditional local hunting such as Narwhals in Pond Inlet, seals in Greenland and The Grind, pilot whales in the Faroes. All these hunts have gone on for centuries and still form a major part of these people's lives and/or diets, despite now having supermarkets. You can't beat the dietary benefits of the meat they get but also the incredible sense of community. Nothing is wasted and, as we were advised, everyone in the village gets their share of the kill, from the pensioner who can't get to the shoreline where the whales are butchered to the toddlers. He showed us photos of the hunt here this summer. The whales similar in size to a large dolphin are herded into the bay by small boats and then killed by hand, it looks brutal and bloody but they have done it since populating the islands, from the photos its clear that it is a community thing not just blood thirsty young men or old men set in their ways- and it is definitely not a fox hunt- a pointless torture of an unedible creature by the elite for "sport".
Our stay has been short but we will return to these interesting islands taking time to cruise and enjoy them better. Throughout our Arctic travels we have met many native Faroes Islanders fishing. Without exception they have been friendly, informative and helpful.
PICTURE : Andy enjoying his first strawberry of the year
Land Sighted Faroe Islands
08 October 2018 | Faroe Islands
Our return to the UK from West Greenland at this late stage in the year has been a tactical exercise to avoid the persistent gales, making use of short weather windows to make best jumps to safe harbours. This passage to The Faroe Islands is just another exercise but gave us our strongest winds so far, the upside is that we have been sailing most of the time :-) We left Vapnafjordur at 8.30am Sunday 7 October having got a latest weather but also Chris Parker's recommended tactical plan of heading south down the East coast of Iceland before heading out for the Faroes in order to miss the stronger winds. A 60' Polish yacht Ocea left the same harbour at 8am and was 4 miles ahead of us. Once clear of the fjord entrance we were on a W-SW beam reach in 25kts in a short swelly sea but sailed with three reefs in the main sail and staysail. By midday we were overtaking Ocea.
Continuing on we turned for the Faroes just as the light started to fade at 7pm with Northern Lights already discernable. The day's clouds reduced the further south we travelled giving a clear starry sky with the most incredible Northern Light display we have ever seen. It scaled the sky from ocean to receding land, vast oscillating curtains of awesomely fast moving light. Destiny was surrounded at close proximity with pulsing fingers of iridescent light reaching out to caress us only to quickly withdraw, then reach out again. This display continued until dawn on Monday. What a fabulous Birthday for Andy :-).
In the middle of the night we had three reefs in the main and staysail with 30+ knots of wind gusting to low 40 knots, still on beam reach. The Raymarine auto pilot ran out of deviation error and then went off course which caused us to gybe then hove-to heading back to Iceland. We had the preventer on the main sail as the sea was swelly so this meant the manoeuvre was gentle rather than a crash. We decided to remain hove-to to let the wind reduce as the forecast indicated that we were at its strongest intensity. First we changed the sails around bringing Destiny hove-to heading in the right direction! Andy went to bed while I kept watch on a fishing boat and enjoyed Nature's Illuminations. After two hours I got the boat moving again. This was the strongest winds that we have been offshore in Destiny with.
As forecast the wind died late Tuesday night so we motor sailed until late morning today. Since then we have been racing along at 7 - 8 knots in blue skies and a few quick rain squalls giving Destiny a refreshing washdown. It has got warmer, the long johns and a few jackets have been removed. The sea temperature is now 8Â°C. Balmy. As I send this we have sighted several of the Faroe Islands and are sailing towards the most southern one, Suduroy, to stop in Vagur harbour before the next gale blasts through from midday tomorrow. The hills here have no snow - That's strange!
Looking at the long term forecast we will probably be there for a week before getting the weather window to jump the 180nm to Scrabster, NE Scotland.
PICTURE : Racing towards Suduroy, Faroe Islands
06 October 2018 | North East Iceland
We left Akureyri early yesterday as it takes 6 hours to get to the entrance of Eyjafjordur. This allowed the swell to ease slightly but it was still quite rolly and we had a very brisk 25kt head wind as well. What we hadn't expected was for there to be a quite big iceberg in the entrance of Eyjafjordur. We motored unawares past it in the dark on our way in to Akureyri - how funny would that have been to hit a growler in Iceland after all our time in the ice!!
Once out of the fjord we managed to sail in the swell on a beam reach until we came round Langanes Point at which time the wind headed us and died but it had been good to be sailing for a change. We arrived here in this lovely harbour late morning after 30 hours, having made good time sailing at 7+knots. This is a great location with about 760 residents, many not speaking English. The harbour has numerous breakwaters along with a natural one. The fjord is quite wide and very open to the East but even so it is calm here at the moment despite there being 30+ knots at the entrance to the fjord. We are here tonight then kick out about 8am to take advantage of some more wind for a few days to get to the Faroes 370nm before the next front blows through, where we will have to wait for our next opportunity to jump to Scotland.
If we had not taken the decision to head up the East coast of Greenland, we would still be waiting for the weather and with winter having arrived there now, would probably have been there for another winter. This may be slow but we are making steady progress towards the UK and the bonus is meeting up with friends and making new ones along the way. Winter is coming in fast in Iceland too.
PICTURE : Destiny in Vapnafjordur harbour