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Iceland - across the north coast to the Westfjords

Some 288 nautical miles later, we reach the east coast of Iceland. Initially we gain some distance from the coast of the Faroe Islands and the lee of the mountains under engine power, but as the wind picks up, we sail very well on a broad reach towards Iceland. An unpleasant cross swell opposes us for almost the entire crossing. Nevertheless, the wonderful sunny weather with daylight at night makes the journey a real pleasure. There is fog off the coast of Iceland, which then clears to reveal a marvellous mountain world with snowy peaks to welcome us.

Everything went smoothly on arrival in Seydisfjördur. We have already sent the customs formalities to the customs authority by e-mail and then phoned the Icelandic Coast Guard again at the 12-mile zone. They are already waiting for us. And when we contact the harbour master in the harbour, we are already welcomed - two men are standing by the jetty to take our mooring lines. The customs officer arrives shortly afterwards with our documents, which he has already checked. And all without an inspection on board!

This small village is quickly explored and a beautiful hike on the nearby slopes shows us the diverse landscape with its rocks, trees, plants and, of course, waterfalls. These contrasts, topped off with structured snow-capped mountains, are very appealing after the mainly green Faroe Islands. We are delighted to be able to collect wild rhubarb and wild herbs. Delicious rhubarb cake and a wonderful herb salad are served.

Here, too, reunions are a pleasure: Dee and Molly from SY Wings have similar plans to us and it will certainly not be the last time we meet on Iceland. We are offered to fill up with cheap marine diesel at the pier. With our tank size, it's worth it. Now that there is no more diesel on the Faroe Islands due to an extensive strike, we certainly don't have to worry about getting anywhere with it.

After six weeks and a great time together, our fellow sailor Teresa is leaving us. Over the next leg, we will sail along the north coast of Iceland to the West Fords. First, we sail on to Vopnafjördur. Unfortunately, low clouds obscure the panorama. At a fishing spot, we pull out two large cod after a few minutes and are able to stop fishing again as soon as we start. We are delighted to be able to feed ourselves again in this way. A greedy flock of seagulls fights over the fish remains. We save some of it for the lobster basket, which we lay out off Vopnafjördur on the recommendation of an Icelander (Gregor will enjoy the five whelks...). In the fishing village we moor at a large concrete quay wall. Normally, larger fishing boats are expected here. The clouds clear and the high, steep Smjöfjöll (Butter Mountains) become visible - wow! Many "onlookers" pass by the quay in their cars. They stop right in front of the Aegir, but the interaction is limited to a wave at most. Nobody gets out for a chat. The Chinese whispers in the village works, however. We are already known when we visit the handicraft shop and this is also where the conversation is sought. We have quickly explored this tiny village - far from the ring road. The walk takes us to the lighthouse, we are delighted by every new bird species and enjoy the beach feeling on a small cliff area with a sandy beach. Going into the water against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains is a highlight for Christine.

The next leg takes us 130 metres directly to Husavik. However, we need two attempts. The first time we turned back shortly after the harbour because the autopilot wasn't working. Although feasible, we want to avoid 24-hour manual steering in the cool temperatures. The hydraulic pump is not pressurising the rudder and needs to be vented, which we manage to do as a team - one at the helm, one in the engine compartment. Good upwind sailing followed by rough waves are on the programme the next day with the autopilot working.

The welcoming culture in the harbours continues in Husavik. We moor at an old wooden ship, "Donna Wood", at the instruction of the harbour master. The harbour is bustling with whale-watching boats. Friends (Heike & Axel) come on board again. They will be sailing with us for the next 14 days.

For the first stage we choose the island of Grimsey. We arrive there after a strong waves - unfortunately without encountering any whales. The next day, a wonderful walk around the island in Icelandic summer weather awaits us. Puffins as far as the eye can see and magnificent cliffs with breeding gulls and guillemots. What a beautiful place to walk across the Arctic Circle.

We decide on an early start for the onward journey. We set off at 02.00 at night. As a reward we are setting sail with zero waves and reach Siglufjördur after a relaxed sail and little sleep. The former herring town has tourist attractions, but is anything but crowded. We enjoy the hike the next day in glorious weather in a ski area with plenty of residual snow. We even see a local who is still travelling on mountaineering skis. However, he has a car to drive to the snow line. We cross slopes, green, rocky and snow fields. After about 700 metres in altitude, we reach a summit and have a fantastic view of other mountains and the sea.

On the next leg, we make a fishing stop in calm conditions and are absolutely stunned by the catch. Within a few minutes we had seven mega-sized cod on our rods. Then the wind picks up and we head for the west coast of Iceland, mostly in fog. The stable wind makes it possible for us to continue processing the fish during the journey. With this catch rate, the fishing rods are definitely put away for the time being. The sun awaits us at the anchorage. Rugged green slopes frame the large bay. The next day begins with a short swim near the swim ladder. The wind and the waves make it impossible to circumnavigate Aegir. But after a dinghy trip ashore with a walk along the coast, we spend several hours in a fantastic pool and hot tub right by the sea. The locals seem to be ringing in their weekend here, as the pool gradually fills up. We go back on board deeply relaxed! With sunshine and a light southerly wind, the next day brings even more of a summer feeling. The skis are stored a little deeper in the anchor locker and the stand-up paddleboard is used.

The next sailing leg to Hesteyrafjördur (90 miles) has a lot to offer in terms of changing winds and strongly varying winds. The start is marvellous, with a strong breeze and sunshine. At the northern tip of the Nordstrandir peninsula with Cape Horn (yes, we are in Iceland), the weather changes and the wind shifts violently around the north-west tip. The waves don't make steering easy either. After rounding Skaladulur, the wind abruptly dies down, only to unexpectedly pick up again to 25 kt a few nautical miles later. After 19 hours, the anchor drops at the end of the fjord. An anchor beer is served at 04.00 in the morning and we fall contentedly into our bunks. The place feels like the end of the world. A harsh, barren landscape surrounds us. The snowmelt is in full swing with thundering waterfalls, nature is exploding with wild plants and Arctic foxes are looking for eggs. Surprisingly there is also a café at the end of the world and we enjoy a slice of rhubarb pie!

We spot lots of humpback whales on the way to Isafjördur, further away and close to the ship they dive down and show us their impressive flukes. Isafjördur itself is a less pretty little town that is regularly visited by large cruise ships. We anchor in the harbour basin as the only jetty is occupied. With a hire car, we explore part of the Westfjords from here with an obligatory waterfall (Dynjandi), the Arctic Fox Museum, seal watching and relaxing in some hot tubs.

With two weeks of time together, Heike and Axel's holiday is slowly coming to an end and they are leaving the boat. We appreciate visitors on the Aegir very much, especially when they enjoy sailing, cooking together and experiencing everyday life on the boat. Sharing is a pleasure. It's also like a holiday for us. Now, it's time for the two of us to get back to the routine without a lot of words, planning and individual time for ourselves. For us, it's a wonderful mix. Looking forward to a few more weeks in the south-west fjords of Iceland before we move on. Ice conditions off Greenland and the weather will tell us where we sail to.


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1 Comment

Always love your blogs. And amazed at the great Fishing stories..😁

I hope i can sail with you someday too.. maybe in 2025. Iceland looks amazing and it probably tastes great too with hopefully many moments and interactions with the locals. - Stephen

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