Cut from Wilhelm’s letters to family and friends
When I as Empire’s new crew member arrived in Iceland and Reykjavik, the crew had rented a car for the day. From the airplane window I had looked down at big glaciers and rivers running with melting water towards the sea. Along the countryside we drove through a quite flat landscape. In the horizon we saw the mountain Hekla, glaciers Langjökull, Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull. At Gullfoss we admired the biggest waterfall in Iceland, and Geysir is surprising with its water shootong 30 meters above the ground. Last stop was Tingvallir where the norsemen/Icelandics had their first allting around year 1000.
I felt like living in a hotel… Heidi doing the work in the galley didn't agree to that. She thought it was great to have someone to look after the kids now and then.
You can’t travel to Iceland without visiting one of the many swimming pools around the volcanic island, heated by natural hot springs. All the pools we visited had a nice swimming pool and several hot pools with temperatures from 36 to 42 degrees Celsius, sauna and children’s pool. The biggest ones also had slides…
We considered sailing from Reykjavik, but would like to see what Reykjavik Day was like - with concerts, cultural arrangements, marathon through the city and fireworks at night. We enjoyed lunch in the park with perfect view to runners and concerts. There were lots of people enjoying Reykjavik downtown in the nice weather.
After three days in the capital it was time to move on. We looked at the forecast and were still not sure if we wanted to sail south or north from Reykjavik around Iceland. To begin with we went for Keflavik, a short day sail away. The wind was varying both in strength and direction. After a combination of sailing, motoring and both we arrived in Keflavik after 21 nm.
Keflavik harbor is grey and boring but there was still some action. After dinner Empire had lifted 2.5 meters at the dock. There are several meters difference between low and high tide. Eirik, Eivind and Wilhelm went for a walk before dawn. At the end of the pier where Empire was moored people where fishing. During two and a half hour they caught 10kg of mackerel. One of the fishermen spoke Norwegian and told of exceptional mackerel fishing the last years.
This was confirmed at the harbor head where they were unloading a boat for 6 tons of mackerel, soon after a second boat was coming in with 5 tons. Before it got dark another four boats had unloaded their catch.
We stayed for one more day in Keflavik. It was cloudy and several showers passed by. We spent the day in the library. Eirik and Marius were happily enjoying “new” books, while the adults struggled with a slow Wi-Fi connection. By the end of the day we visited the local pool and two hours went fast in the relaxing warm water.
Back at the dock again fishing boats were lining up to unload. One boat had 6 tons, the day before she had delivered 13 tons! 19 tons of mackerel to a price of 130.000NOK is good for two days work. Two trucks were transporting the fish to the fillet fabric and the fishermen had big smiles on their faces. It was nice to hear that some people are making good money - after the financial crises a few years ago.
It was hardly any wind the day we sailed out from Keflavik. A new low pressure system was on its way to Iceland and we hoped to get as far east as possible before it got nasty. The coastline was beautiful and photos were taken constantly, pictures of glaciers, mountains and hot pools.
Near the western edge, just before we were heading east, the Captain discovered a strong tidal stream. The seas were heavy and Eivind had to trottle up the engine to get through. For a few minutes the waves were short and steep. The bow went under water several times. It only took few minutes to get through. On “the other side” everything was as calm as before we headed in to the area full of current.
The sail toward Djupivogur at the east coast was slow, with many motoring hours. We tied Empire to the pier near the fishing boats. Soon after the local police officer showed up. He wishes us “welcome” in Norwegian. In the 80`s he studied at the Engineer School in Oslo.
About 350 people live in the small community Djupivogur, and also here they have hot pools for swimming. We got the bathing suits out and enjoyed having the pools to our selves. We checked out from Iceland from Djupivogur and were ready to leave after a last visit at the internet café and the supermarket. The police officer from yesterday stamped our papers and off we sailed.
To avoid two low pressure systems, one to the north and the other south of Empire, the Captain decided to head east the first couple of days. With two reefs in the main and with a few turns rolled in on the genoa we worked our way eastwards. Heading into the wind on a port tack in winds 12 – 15 m/s, 18,4 at the most, course 100 degrees. We were sailing wit slack in the sheets to get in position for the next weather system. We knew we would get winds from SE and then we could sail with slack in the sheets also on the next tack on a more northerly course.
To me it felt like a washing machine. First during our second day I could sleep in the forpig/up front. The bucket was ready beside my berth but I didn’t have to use it… Not that I could lie still, but I didn’t fall out either. Lots of fresh air also helped me sleep tight when off watch, but not for more than 4-5 hours at a time. I am impressed how Heidi could come up with two hot meals every day during the passage.
Wind and high seas were soon forgotten when we got closer to Lofoten and Vesterålen. With the wind from behind, not more than 7-8 m/s (14-16 knots) and a full moon at the stern it was cozy at the helm. The fairytale continued next morning when the sun “woke up”, coloring the sky in golden red.
The engine took Empire in to Tromsø from the south - in sunshine. Sailing through the narrow passage Rystraumen we had 10 knots of current with us. (according to the Captains log book it was only 5 knots….)
Some had heard that Empire was on her way. Johanna, a girl Heidi and Eivind and crew met in Mauritius was bicycling beside us as we sailed along the docks and took our lines when we came to the pier. When the Captain was satisfied with the mooring lines, it was time for a drink. It didn’t take long before more friends of Heidi and Eivind came to say hello and congratulate with the arrival back in Norway.
After breakfast everybody but me left Empire. Eivind and Eirik to take a look at Hans Olav’s rig, Heidi and Marius to do some shopping. It was nice to be onboard, several times I had to go outside to talk to people who had read the article in “I Tromsø” about Empire and her crew. Most of the people were sailors themselves, some of them thinking of one day heading out on a long voyage themselves.
With Heidi and Marius back onboard, the little one was put to bed. I went for a walk to the fish shop 50 meters from the boat. At a local market nearby I bought a cake.
Together with Martin, a friend the Empires knew from their sailing in the Pacific Ocean, we went for a drive to Kvaløya, where Martin`s family have a modernized farm as a cottage. 50 years ago Martin`s family lived there year round - of fishing and a few animals, two cows and 15 sheep. On our way out we stopped at Eidkjosen to get some food for the barbeque. We also stopped to look at some local surfers waiting for the perfect wave - which require lots patients in the few waves rolling by that day.
While Martin was preparing the barbeque Eirik and Marius dug fresh potatoes and carrots from the garden. When everything was ready, we had corn cobs, lamb chops, whale burgers and Eide sausages on the menu - with potatoes and local bear. The neighbors, a cousin of Martins father and his wife came over for dinner – for dessert they brought cloudberries served with cream and sugar. A wonderful meal!
I would like to thank the Våge Bogerud family for letting me join them on the voyage from Iceland to Tromsø - an adventurus trip, not for the masses to experience. I am impressed how they manage to keep the active young sailors busy, when the deck doesn’t stay still for a second. With books, toy cars, trains and DVDs they made it look easy. The boys are also two nice kids who enjoyed sitting on my lap from the first day. The most enjoyable I did to the kids, was showing them pictures on my computer, from my farm in Stokke with all the animals we have there.
Ship O`Hoi – from Wilhelm Preus!!!!