Neskaupstadur, Iceland

In between showers, we were able to do a little exploring in Torshavn. Even the churches were open - a first on this cruise. There is an East Church (traditional) and a modern West Church.

More exploring in Torshavn

On the 16th, Rainer, Almut and Achim departed and a new crew arrived: David Condit, a US airforce pilot, Tobias Albers, a young German business consultant who lives in Ireland, and Owen Sordillo, an even younger College student from San Francisco who is the regular bowman on Kincsem IV, the J105. A strong, very experienced group of sailors - just what Kincsem needed for the trip to Iceland.

On the 17th, the gale came through as forecast and Kincsem came through it at the dock without a problem. However, the top windspeed was 48 knots rather than the forecast 35 knots - the predictions of the locals that there would be much less wind then forecast in the well protected harbor did not pan out! Also, the floating dock we were on survived but it moved by several meters! Again, no problem but it's clear that Thorshavn needs better docking facilities for visiting pleasure boats.

We decided to give it another day for the waves to calm down after the gale so we would depart on the 19th for Iceland. One key factor to consider when sailing from and within the Faroes is the currents. They can run merely strong like in San Francisco - but they can also rip MUCH stronger - up to 10 knots. I have the RAK app on my phone which shows the currents nicely. Initially we wanted to head West out of Thorshavn past the island of Mykenes, which meant a 4pm departure to have the current be favorable. The chart indicates overfalls by Mykenes, the westernmost island of the group, and I had seen a Vlog episode by NBBS - short for "no bullshit but sailing" - a Norwegian singlehander, who got almost rolled of Mykenes when he didn't pay attention to those overfalls. We discussed the situation with Sunny, Mike and another Faroe local and they warned us to expect 5-6 m seas in a flat calm unless one stays 2-3 miles off Mykenes! Well, maybe it made sense to go through the islands and come out on the North end? We reran the routing and this option was only marginally longer and with some help from Mike, we could chart a course on which the currents were not much of an issue on that route either.

Faroe Islands means lamb islands so it was only fitting that we would have an opulent all you can eat lamb meal before departure. After that, we were off, going North from Torshavn through the Nolsofjordur, East of the island Eysturoy and then West of the island of Kelsoy, the James Bond island. The scenery was absolutely stunning but there was no wind.

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One of many waterfalls

That is, no wind until we passed the Northern tip of Kelsoy. Then, the breeze went from 4 to 29 knots in 45 minutes! Well, the wind was from the Southwest, a reach course so we set the staysail and the reefed main and settled in for the night - in full daylight of course. The next day the breeze dropped a bit to around 20 knots but also shifted so that we needed to tack to make our destinations, Neskaupstadur in Nordfjordur, Iceland.

We had just tacked when we were hailed on the VHF by Cleopatra, a Finnish sailboat whom we'd seen on AIS but had passed several hours before. He was asking about "our intentions"??!! This is standard terminology a sailboat uses when a ship is on a collision course with it and the ship is required to give way to the sailboat. It ensures that the ship has seen the sailboat and will take avoiding action as needed. A bit odd when we're 6 miles ahead and extending our lead every minute - i.e. there's no chance of a collision!

In the early morning hours of our third day, the next front came through and the wind was gone. At this point, we were 50 miles away from Iceland and the snow capped mountains were already visible. A phantastic sunrise at 245 ship's time (145 GMT or Icelandic time) was my reward for having the 2 am to 4 am watch!

Later that morning, the breeze came back in and when we were approaching Nordfjordur, it was blowing over 20 in the gusts again although in the fjord itself, the breeze dropped again. I called the harbormaster and was told to dock at the wooden dock in the old harbor - which is essentially a dock without protection whatsoever from winds blowing across the fjord.

Neskaupstadur is not a tourist town but it boasts a "cave" which needed to be explored. A 2 hour hike (back and forth) got us to a place where the sea had created an overhang - the cave. Nothing fancy, but we could check it off - been there, done that! Directly from the boat you could see a large water slide consisting of a closed tube winding down from something like 10 meters in height - part of the local swimming pool. Those pools are all over Iceland and are heated to 30-35 C from geothermal energy. The warm and somewhat sulphury waters are very relaxing and the water slides are fun as well. The crew braved the cold air temps and gave the pool a try. Definitely a thumbs up!


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