The sun shining 24 hours a day definitely has it advantages. When I woke up at 4 am on the 22nd, Kincsem was tugging mightily on its lines. Rather than the tame 15 knots predicted, it was blowing 25 with higher gusts from the Southwest - i.e. across the fjord. This left us with a 2 mile plus fetch with the wind kicking up some significant chop, with our stern facing into it. Although we were on the North side of the L shaped dock, a broken stern line would result in Kincsem's stern turning with the wind and crashing into the rocks on the leeward side some 10 meters away. Moreover, if the wind increased more, it would be very difficult to get off the dock at all without being thrown onto the same rocks. So I made the decision that now was the time to leave. It took all of 5 minutes for the crew to be fully dressed and ready for "battle stations" and we extricated Kincsem elegantly from the situation.

It was a brilliant, sunny morning but very windy. Williwaws were coming of the high ground, flying water racing across our path. So we were very careful unfurling the sails. One of the heavier gusts took our life ring - a "man" overboard maneuver was called for. Tobias pointed toward the life ring and we furled the sails quickly. Nonetheless, the life ring was no longer visible once the sails were furled and the engine running. I had failed to press the MOB button on the plotter but when I followed our track on the plotter, the life ring soon came back into view. The attached drogue was working well, keeping the life ring in the water inspite of the 35 knot gusts. The first attempt at recovery on an upwind course did not work out as the bow was falling off to a reach as soon as the boat was stopped. For the second attempt, I stopped Kincsem at 90 degrees to the wind to windward of the life ring and we drifted down to it very slowly, allowing us to recover the ring without a problem. A forced exercise under real world conditions, and we learned a lot!

The life ring recovered - now secured by a sacrificial Velcro strap

The wind varied between 5 and 40 knots, making it very difficult to make headway under sail. So we decided to anchor for the day and following night in Lodmundarfjordur, a small fjord just north of Seydisfjordur. The anchor fell at the end of the spectacular fjord in 35 knots of wind. No need to drive the anchor in by going reverse on the engine! We deployed a small handkerchief of mizzen as a riding sail and spent a surprisingly calm day and night at the anchorage, enjoying the total lack of cell phone coverage. The evening and morning weather downloads were only possible via the satellite phone!

Anchorage Lodmundarsfjordur

The next morning saw us under way again at 7 am in brilliant sunshine. We knew it would be an upwind sail to Vopnafjordur, some 75 miles away, and yes it was. But the wind was more stable than the previous day. Some 7 tacks, 13 sail changes and 14 hours later we arrived at our destination - what a great sailing day! We docked opposite the lifeboat on a floating pontoon with a diesel pump on it. Opportunity to fill up? Not so fast. The pump required an oil company credit card and when I called the number provided, they confirmed that we could not fill up without that card. My next call was to the harbor office and the friendly guy who picked up promised to organize a trade: cash for card. When I got back to the harbor from my little shopping run, a car stopped and asked: "did we just talk? I'm still working on your diesel, don't worry." Sure enough, half an hour later there was a chap unrolling the hoses at the pump and 10 minutes later, the tank was full! Payment was at the local auto repair shop, credit cards accepted!

"Scenic" Vopnafjordur

The next day saw us sailing - upwind again - toward Cap Langenes. Another day of punching upwind in 15-25 knots, many tacks and sail changes and against a 1.5 knot current for much of the day. We anchored for the night in an open bay called Gunnolfsvik - totally deserted. It was bitterly cold so the heater went on before the anchor fell.

Tobias clearing the staysail sheets in brisk conditions

Langenes has a bad reputation with many ships wrecked there over the centuries and a fierce tidal race. The guide book said to go around very close (1/4 mile) of the cape with a slack current but then, when was the current slack? There are no current stations in Iceland and no current predictions that bear any semblance to reality. Even if one assumes that slack water is at high or low tide (which is a very rough assumption), that doesn't solve the problem because there is no tidal station at the cape. One of the handbooks said that slack at Langenes was at Husavik high or low water plus 45 minutes. The tidal stations in the vicinity, however, gave a different picture, between 1 and 2 hours off depending on whether we used the C Map or Navionics charts tide prediction! An internet site purporting to list the high and low water at Langenes provided yet another view and this is what we used for our plan to arrive at Langenes at slack water. Well, when we arrived according to plan, we had a 1.5 knot current with us which switched to a 1 knot current against us once we were around. Luckily, the winds were only moderate and no current rips were in sight!

Cape Langenes, the Northeast corner of Iceland. No humans, just birds

We stopped overnight in Raufahofn, the locale of the Arctic Henge. What a desolate place - not a soul in sight! The Artic Henge monument is nothing to write home about either. It is unfinished and is supposedly based on some Viking mythology. We hiked there to check it off the list of attractions one needs to see. Well, 10,000 steps of walking have value by themselves! We checked out the local hotel bar which had some people sitting inside but was locked. The bar tender unlocked the door and told us that it was after hours so the bar was closed - but we could have a drink and enjoy it in the reception area! We declined politely.

Raufahofn and the Arctic Henge

On the way to Husavik one passes Cape Hraunhafnartangi - yes, that's a word and there is no typo. To round that cape, one has to pass the Arctic Circle - which currently is located at 66 degrees 33.818 minutes North, moving North slowly every year. We passed the circle in drizzle, in 20 knots of wind, an adverse current and upwind - authentic conditions as Tobias called them! The celebration involved the consumption of some Icelandic Moonshine - making the occasion even more authentic.

We were quite happy when we got to Husavik later that day as it was bitterly cold again. There were tourists, the town looked attractive and it was warmer. Even the weather cleared for a moment, which we enjoyed despite the lack of authenticity!


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