Orkney Islands – Faroe Islands – Iceland
At 03:30 the dawn we slowly left the safe harbor of Stromness. We turned our bow to the NW end of the Islet of Hoy 4 nautical miles to the south, from where we were to set course for the Faroe Islands.
Day 5 / Thursday 7 July 2022 - Position: 62° 00΄N 06°46΄W – Torshavn Faroe Islands
We preferred to make this detour because, as they advised us, we had to avoid the SW cape of the Mainland island where the tide, which at that particular time is coming in from the North, creates very strong phenomena. Both I and Konstantinos were completely immersed in our thoughts. I don't know if we were ready for what we were about to attempt but we had to prepare our psychology in a few minutes and pull out all our forces to achieve our goal. We knew very well that there was no going back now.
So we were riding very close to the islet of Hoy. But it wasn't just the tide. Huge waves were coming from NW and in their collision with the tide created inaccessible seas. Seas that, as local fishermen told us, have sunk entire ships. We gritted our teeth and at a speed of 10 knots we tried to understand the situation. This strange sea of wind-tide conflict fortunately occurs only about 5-8 miles offshore. We finally managed to get out of this trap area unscathed and then set course for Faroe.
The weather was coming on our port bow from NW. Unfortunately for us, the winds were the result of an unusual high barometric that had formed west of the Orkney Islands. Directly above it, 100 miles further north, was the low barometer at very close range, within which I desired to get as quickly as possible to put the waves on our port quarter. But that was not enough. Big swells were coming in on our starboard bow from NE. The sea looked literally untraveled as the confluence of waves and swells made it "boiling". Disappointment was plainly painted on our faces. But we had to do our best. Fear no longer fits within us. We were determined not to give up easily.
My gaze seemed to be hypnotized. I didn't understand anything, I didn't look around. I was completely fixed on my bow, focusing mostly on the menacing crests of the waves that were being thrown up from all sides. The waves were of great force and the distances between them were so short that they left us no room for navigation. The only solution was to attempt the most open slopes possible. In vain I tried to find runways so that we could have a laminar cruise even at low speed. I was forced to constantly work with the throttles and steering wheel. We were navigating very hard at 12 knots, in a real mess.
There was no end to the problems. After two hours the windshield wiper started to smoke. The fog was incredible and now we could see absolutely nothing in front of us. I was trying to steer now, just by intuition and the sounds I was picking up from the strange hull landings. We were going blindly. I may not have been able to see my bow very well, but I had become "one" with my hull. I was filling every moment its exact position on the water. I couldn't even look at the instruments of the engines. Only from their sound I could calculate the engines’ rpm and also from our constant take-offs.
Somehow, steering and throttles movements, mostly following my gut and intuition, were instantaneous and surgically precise in an effort to coordinate with the erratic flow of oncoming waves. And then, some creepy "cracks" of the side windshields. And those hours that flowed incredibly slowly. It is true that we were overcoming every wave very painfully. We were being punished excruciatingly slowly for our decision to travel in such weather conditions. And we still had a long way to go. I don't even remember the few conversations we had with Konstantinos.
We were trying not to think about the long distance we had to cover, but only to fight hard. It was a real and unequal war out there. A small, pitch-black dot in the ocean that sometimes disappeared into chaotic gullies and suddenly appeared on some ridge, in a watery, anarchically pulsing, gray and vast desert.
I had only one expectation. To reach the height of the barometric low so that we have a more favorable direction of the waves, but this never happened. We had already covered 100 nautical miles and were still riding against the waves. The bow was completely submerged in every wave, the water splashed furiously on the windshield and flowed with great momentum over the hard top, showering the stern sundeck generously. Often entire "rivers" would break through the cracks in the leading edges of the awnings and flood the deckt. Water a lot and fight with the waves. It was one of the worst seas I had ever encountered. I have fought rough seas many times and somehow got used to the poundings. My whole body ached. But this time it felt numb. It was frozen from the freezing temperatures. But my soul was warmed by the immense passion that drove me forward, defying even these natural endurances of mine.
30 miles separated us from Suðuroy, the southernmost island of the 18 that make up the Faroe Islands. The intensity of the winds rose even more, as was predicted, and the conditions became even more difficult. However, the sun came out and the whole scene changed. On the one hand, it lit up and warmed our souls, but on the other hand, the sea seemed more alive and clean. Rainy and more aggressive than ever, it burst furiously onto our port beam. The wind started raging and howling. The sight was definitely scary but at the same time shocking and majestic! The intense color contrasts the deep blue of the waves with their all-white crests rising to a great height filling the horizon with spray combined with the deep blue sky composed of shocking images.
As if by magic, all my tiredness was gone. The throttles nailed forward furiously. It was my reflexive reaction to the long-hour battle with the hitherto gray ocean. Maybe because my hands were numb from the limited movements for so many hours. Maybe because the huge tension that had accumulated inside me wanted to release. Now it was my turn. I felt like I was flying. But only mentally, since my body was still frozen. I was in my own world, in the vast solitude of the desolate ocean. From wave to wave, between crests that broke violently playing chase with them. In a game of our own. I was meandering between them at over 30 knots and having so much fun. I needed that release. I really needed it after 12 hours of tension and fighting the waves.
It was 4 o'clock in the afternoon. After 180 miles we approached the small port of Porkeri on the east coast of Suðuroy. The wind was raging and the bow thruster was unable to hold the bow. With great difficulty we moored to the wharf and without much ado we changed our clothes, got into the cabin and dozed off for an hour. We know very well that we took a big risk with our decision to travel with the specific conditions and in no case do we want to be an example to follow. But we had no other choice. It was real hell out there…
The weather was getting heavier. The cold was unbearable. We wore the special IMAT uniforms and felt much better. So, warmer now, we covered the remaining 35 miles to Torshavn, the capital of the Faroes located on Streymoy islet. Total miles 235. Fuel 920 lt.
Day 6 / Friday 8 July 2022 - Position: 62° 00'N 06°46'W – Torshavn Faroe Islands
Day 6 of the expedition found us tied up in the Torshavn marina.
Until noon we were looking for a way to transport fuel from neighboring stations as there was no gas station here either.
Finally we found a taxi and until late afternoon we were transporting and refueling.
Our fatigue was beyond words as we carried a total of 1500 liters with our 70 liter tanks.
As soon as we were able to eat at a nearby restaurant, we fell asleep in the cabin of the boat, exhausted.
Day 7 / Saturday 9 July 2022 - Position: 64° 13'N 15° 408 'W - Hofn / Iceland
At 06:00 in the morning.
The alarm clocks rang brutally in our ears but no one moved from the berth.
It was obvious that we needed more rest but there was no time available.
At 06:30 we untied our bow lines and slowly left the marina.
Before setting sail for Iceland, we navigated along the western shores of Vagar Island to visit the Mulafossur waterfall which is one of the most attractive sights of the Faroe Islands.
Of course, we found it very difficult to approach as the very big waves at their confluence with the tide made the ocean "boiling".
The sea once again was both untraveled and terrifying.
We were slowly going along at 8-12 knots trying to constantly avoid the huge jets that formed at each crest of the waves.
We made enough time to approach the islet of Mycenae and from there we turned our bow west towards the fjord where the waterfall is. Despite the big and disturbing swell, we managed to stand a short distance from where its waters burst. We marveled in ecstasy at the magnificent sight of the rushing waters of the waterfall as they fell with force from the high vertical rocks into the Atlantic ocean.
But the time had passed and we had to hurry because we had a long way to go. We set a course for Hofn, Iceland.
Time 11:30 Position 62° 28'N 08° 31'W Temperature 8 °C and quite foggy. The waves exceeded 5 meters in height and we had them against our bow. The Ocean was not doing us any favors as the waves were completely unruly. We were cruising with 19 knots at 3300 rpm with fuel consumption coming in at 4.4 liters per nautical mile. In order to drop the consumption below 4 liters per mile we had to increase our speed above 27 knots, but that was impossible in these weather conditions.
Time 15:30 Position 63° 10'N 11° 03'W We had climbed quite a bit and began to put the weather on our port beam. Engines revs up and we were now cruising at 25-27 knots. The consumption was reduced to 3.5 liters per mile. Despite the bad weather, we felt pretty good despite the accumulated fatigue of the previous days.
Time 17:30 Position 63°34'N 12°32'W Fortunately in these latitudes it never gets dark so there was no anxiety about the arrival time at our destination. We were now traveling even faster since we had the waves on our port quarter. We had clearly more laminar cruising, but the fog had become very dense and we were traveling with the aid of radar. Light rain, temperature 7 °C and a gloomy and pessimistic environment. Finally, after 15 hours of riding we managed to arrive at Hofn.
Day 8 / Sunday 10 July 2022 - Position: 64° 13'N 15° 408 'W – Hofn / Iceland
8 degrees of temperature, light rain all day and thick fog.
The now classic marathon to find fuel is on.
After several phone calls we found the right man who transports fuel from the gas station to the port.
The price for the transfer is 300 euros, but since it was a Sunday, he charged us 450.
We filled our tanks by paying 2.8 euros per liter.
In the afternoon we finished the transfusions and looked visibly exhausted. This alternation of riding all day and carrying fuel the next day had exhausted us. The weather continued to be heavy, the fog stifling and the drizzle constant. After a short walk along the harbor front we got into the cabin and put the heater on trying to warm up.
Höfn means "harbour" as it is the only natural harbor on the south-eastern tip of Iceland. The entrance to Hofn is very difficult and requires great care especially when the waters are low. The waters in the wider area are inhospitable, shallow and dangerous, while the tidal currents are very strong. Reefs are invisible, especially when it's foggy and we have to stay away from the shore.
Day 9 / Monday, July 11, 2022 - Position: 64° 09'N 21° 56'W - Reykjavik
At 5 o'clock in the morning of the next day we set sail for Vestmannaeyjbaer islands, 160 nm further west.
Temperature of 4 degrees. Coming out of the harbor the sea was once again untrodden by the tide and the headwind.
It was a very rough couple of hours during which we covered only 24 nautical miles.
We were within swimming distance of some of the most popular attractions in Iceland. We admired the Vatnajökull glacier, which is Europe's largest, the famous one Jökulsárlón Glacier which is Iceland's deepest lake filled with small and large icebergs, and of course, the famous Diamond Beach where its wide black sand is strewn with large pieces of ice which take various shapes like all-white diamonds.
After that we had more laminar riding and increased speed to 23 knots. After 9 hours of cruising and a short stop at the famous Black beach, we finally arrived at Vestmannaeyjbaer islands.
The entrance to the port is breathtaking, with the tall green and vertical cliffs offering us a breathtaking sight.
We went out for coffee and intended to stay here that day.
The low barometric pressures, however, continued to chase us.
Seeing the weather of the next day, we packed up running, carried fuel and in two hours we were leaving behind these wonderful islands.
Course to Reykjavik, still 120 nautical miles.
Of course, a short stop at Europe's most photographed lighthouse was absolutely necessary.
The Prídrangaviti lighthouse, built in 1938 on top of a giant vertical rock where the waves of the Atlantic furiously crash, offers one of the most shocking sights to see and graces the photo albums of many tour guides.
After we took the necessary photos, we started again on our way. The sea again showed us one of its worst faces. In addition, we were traveling against a strong current of over 6 knots, which we felt very strongly in our propellers as our speed suddenly dropped from 26 to 20 and even 18 knots. And of course, the headwind that made the waves jump around us, and at very close distances from each other, resulted in an even more difficult and painful riding. But we gritted our teeth and moved on. By the time we entered Reykjavik Bay, where we had the weather on our port quarter, we were fighting relentlessly. We now looked like marathon runners trying to break every record. Exhausted and overworked, at 22:00 we tied up at the floating jetty of the harbor where the people of Rafnar were waiting for us.
Day 10 / Tuesday 12 July 2022 - Position: 64° 09'N 21°56 'W - Reykjavik
With the valuable assistance of our friends, we took the boat out of the water and moved it to Rafnar's shipyard, which is located on the port. We intended to rest for two or three days getting to know the central area of Iceland. We deserved it. So after we would regain our strength we would set sail for our next destination which was Tasiilaq in Greenland.
However, Poseidon had other plans…