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