Torshavn, Faroe

It's been a dream of mine for long to sail to the Faroer Islands and yesterday the dream became reality: Rainer, Almut, Achim and I arrived in Torshavn after a 1 ½ day crossing from Stornoway in the Hebrides! It was difficult to find a good weather window for the crossing since one deep low chases another these days in the North Atlantic. No sign of the typical, more benign summer conditions. We timed our departure to avoid the 4 meter plus swells and the strong Northwesterly winds in the immediate wake of Tropical Storm Alex and the models were spot on: We had 15-25 knots increasingly from behind once we cleared the Hebrides islands. My experienced crew had no problem with the conditions - it was a breeze compared to the Gibraltar - Madeira crossing in up to 35 knots last year.

But we had one strange incident: the hydrogenator wasn't generating any electricity and we initially put it down to the fact that the batteries were full. But when it was still not generating anything after the first night, I checked it and found the propeller missing - including the screw that holds it on the shaft - and the stainless support structure badly bent to the side. Luckily, the generator itself appears undamaged. Obviously, an Orca or other big fish had feasted on the propeller and had kindly undone the screw before ripping it off to avoid any damage to the shaft!

The bent bracket for the hydrogenerator

Torshavn is not an easy port for visiting yachts, particularly if they are over 40 feet long. There's another blow from the Southwest forecast and in one of the last ones, several of the flimsy, 35 foot long finger docks in the "marina" broke off. They have been repaired but still look too short and flimsy for Kincsem. The harbormaster was not helpful, suggesting that the marina was "very small" but we could "have a look" nonetheless! No alternatives were suggested in case the "marina" was full. Thank you! But Sunny, the de facto harbormaster, suggested we move to another, longer and bit less flimsy finger dock, which recently withstood a good blow with 4 yachts rafted up on it, including a humungous Polish steel yacht on the very outside. So I'm hopeful it will do its job again for Kincsem!

First impressions of Torshavn

There is a good cruising community here in Torshavn and everyone is very helpful. On the inside of our dock is a 42 footer owned by a local fellow who charters her out. He's always on the boat and always ready for a chat. Sunny lives on an old Colin Archer wooden ketch at the very insider of the harbor and he seems to work on all the local boats if there's work to be done. He's very helpful explaining all complicated system of how to pay for the dock and electricity and even brought us another extension cord when our two cords still couldn't reach the outlet. He's originally from Switzerland but then emigrated to the US where he changed his name to Sunny to make it easier ..... He's excited to see the US flag flying in the harbor and even suggested that he might do so again on his boat as well! And then there's Michael Henderson, a Scottish guy who told me: "my usual cruising ground is Greenland"! He's written a cruising guide to Faroe, Iceland, Greenland and Jan Mayen which is selling like hotcakes. He explained to me that all 10 copies he printed had been snatched up recently but he could give me a thumb drive with it. The price was right: 20 Britisch Pounds, for the account of the UK Cruising Association which publishes the guide, which seems better than the much more expensive Imray guide. His boat is a serious looking Moody 42 with a deck house and a Reflex diesel stove. Consumes .3 liters per hour and heats much of the boat!

The original cruising plan for this season called for a direct sail from Sligo to the Faroes with a potential stop on St. Kilda. Unfortunately, that plan had to be changed to accommodate two trips to Hannover for family reasons. But we managed a nice enough overnight sail - upwind, of course - from Sligo to Barra in the Hebrides. The winds were rarely over 20 knots and the sun was shining all the way!

The castle in Castle Bay

Hoisting the curtesy flag for the UK

We anchored in Castle Bay for the night and had to clear into the UK. The bay is named after a castle that forms an island on the bay. The clearance involves filling out a detailed form and emailing it to the UK authorities, which worked only imperfectly. I don't know what it was - maybe insufficient connectivity or a faulty form, but it didn't get done without several lengthy phone calls to the UK Yachtline, which seems "manned" by impeccably polite, apparently young women. In the end, it probably took 3 hours for the clearance, a record level of inefficiency! What do you expect of a country led by Boris?!

Our next stop was Loch Claidh, where we anchored in the bay behind the little island Thinarsteigh (or whatever the name was). A spectacular anchorage albeit very tight - but we were the only boat there for the night.

The anchorage in Loch Cleidh

Stornoway was our last port in Scotland and it was interesting place. It is an active fishing port but also sports a well maintained castle, a humungous public park and miles and miles of hiking trails through wooded terrain. Yet elsewhere on the island of Lewis, there's not a tree in sight. Quite the contrast!


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published