Útlendingar koma ekki bara til Íslands til þess að róa allan hringinn.
Sumarið 2008 reri þýski tannlæknirinn Martin einsamall frá Húsavík og eitthvað suður fyrir Neskaupsstað. Róðurinn tók um þrjár vikur og var hinn skemmtilegasti að sögn Martins. Hann lenti í ýmsu á leiðinni eins og gengur. Honum krossbrá til dæmis þegar hvalur kíkti upp úr dimmri þoku á Skjálfanda og blés í um 30 metra fjarlægð frá bátnum og eitt sinn gerði hann þau illþefjandi mistök að reyna lendingu skammt frá þeim stað sem bóndi nokkur notaði til að sturta taði (eða var það eitthvað verra?) í sjóinn. Martin tók þátt í sjókayakferðinni frá Ólafsvík til Grenivíkur (sem átti að ljúka í Húsavík) og því kannast allnokkrir kayakmenn við manninn.
This was a trip I was longer thinking about. I met Steini (seakayak iceland) on my first visit to the Anglesey Sea Symposium where I had my first paddle on tidal water in a kayak.
I also met Shawna Franklin, Leon Some and Chris Duff (none of them I ever heard before) They were preparing for their Iceland Circumnavigation.
I visited every Anglesey Sea Symposium since, it is basically the only sea kayaking I‘m doing since I‘m living about 500 km from the closest coast.
I met Steini again, learned to know Gummi, and made courses with Kalli and Ari and other guys from Iceland. Since my second year I kept in loose contact with Kalli an Ari who when I first met him in my second year told me of his yearly paddles along stretches of the icelandic coast with other paddlers. So I was invited over and over by these guys to visit Icland and paddle with them or do my own trip.
2006 Nigel Dennis was telling me about a lady from Israel which was preparing for the circumnavigation. So 2007 when I already decided to give Nigel‘s Symposium a break there was Rotem Ron which held the main lecture on the 2007 Symposium about her first ever solo circumnavigation of Iceland and since I had already planed to come to Iceland this year I had a relapse.
So in June 21.2007 I finally was in Keflavik and was picked up by Kalli who invited me to stay with his family. before he and Gerdur took me with them up to a summerhouse near Husavik that Ari has rented before we drove to Olafsfjördur (23.6.) to start the yearly trip which should lead us to Husavik. I was missing Steini and Haldur.
We had flat calm conditions that first day. Paddling in to the mouth of Akureiri fjord, I saw Grimsey in the distance and that would have been a perfect day to head out to this Island.
Since I usually paddle by myself it was a new experience to paddle in such a big group and I saw one of the benefits of it when we arrived at Hrisey where we had to get the boats and all our gear up a some meter high wall. This would have been a almost impossible task paddling alone resulting in getting every single bit of equipment out of the boat making multiple climbs over the wall and finally balancing the boat on your shoulder while climbing up the wall to the campground on the top!
So I learned the Icelandic way was making a chain up the wall and passing the laden boats from one to the next all the way up. First I couldn‘t believe they really wanted to do it, - but it worked great!
The next day we had perfect sunshine and - not so perfect - northerly winds. It was already a struggle to cross the fjord but also a nice roller coaster ride through the choppy sea. On the other side it was obvious that we had to change our plans, and that the way north was out of bounds for the group, and on top we would have to land on a beach completely exposed to the northerly wind and swell - without road access.
OK, sea kayaking is much about paddling, improving your skills, - but most of it all about doing the right decisions and so it was decided to paddle back into the fjord to Grenivik. Some of us made use of the wind, and paddled back to Akureyri. Phone calls were made to arrange the transportation back to the summerhouse or were everybody else was planing to go.
Cause of the strong northerly wind we couldn‘t do the day surfing in Skjalfandi eather after this everybody was leaving.
I planed to paddle from Husavik back to Neskaupstadur to meet with Ari again, but as the weather was i started to spend my Holiday with Ari and Auslur, waiting for the northerly‘s to settle.
The wind eased , but it was still grey and there was a drizzle when Auslur and Ari dropped me early afternoon at Husavik Harbor. I was happy that I could start my paddle after waiting before I even started.
On this first day I was still exited when I saw puffins at and around Lundi islet just a short paddle outside the harbor. Later I saw the only wale of the trip 300m to the right and in front of me, when I crossed Oxafjördur in calm sea conditions. The land was barely visible in front of me and to my right in the misty and grey weather it was peaceful and spooky at the same time when I had the feeling somebody was sitting on my back deck shouting in my ear as if to scare me. A wale surfaced probably 30m behind me and to my left with a blow. So here I was awake again! At just before midnight the first paddle day came to an end on a wide black sandy beach where I had to carry my boat quite a while before I was sure enough to have it out of the way of high water. As every day that I had a signal, - which was to my surprise pretty often, - I sent Ari or Kalli a text message where I let them know that I‘m OK, where I am and got my message with the forecast back before I started again the next day.
The following day was sunny and since I went to sleep around 2 in the morning it took a while since I was ready to get out of my sleeping bag and it took even longer till I was ready to start my second paddling day. It was a surprise when I heard the horn of a car and saw Ari‘s van above the beach. He walked the way down the beach and told me that he was driving along the coast on his way back to Neskaupstaudur. He gave me a lolly from Auslur who was staying with the baby in the car. We had a quick chat and parted with the words: „see you in a couple of day‘s in Neskaupstaudur“.
After a first stop for Lunch at Kopasker the paddling was along a more interesting coastline with off lying rocks and tiny caves. The end of this paddle day was just behind Raudinupur Lighthouse after a bit of braking waves below the lighthouse and entering the bay where i camped over a shoal with breaking waves from time to time.
Again Sunshine. I paddled a bit offshore. To make sure I passed the polar circle, I also had a look on the GPS. So far I have my GPS with me just as a back up and do my navigation without it. A fog bank was slowly coming in from the north so I had to find my way back to Hraunafnartangi, - after taking a bearing before it disappeared in the fog, - by compass. I had to do this a couple of times on this trip and I was pleased how well it mostly went. It‘s good to know that you are not completely depending on electronic gadgets!
Later I paddled again on a bearing in pretty dense fog from the last headland before Raufarhofn south and after the time calculated turned west. Shortly after that I paddled out of the fog bank and had the village in front of me under a cloudless sky.
The coast around Sulur on the way to Melrakkanes had nice cliffs. It was fascinating again, for me to see, how much dynamic is, where land and sea are meeting without wind, on a gentle swell that you almost can‘t remember just a bit further out.
I hand railed along the coast since it was grey and a bit foggy again, enjoying the lively conditions with the reflecting waves behind Melrakkanes. At some point I started to cross the bay towards the tip of Raudanes again on a compass bearing. The first thing I saw approaching the peninsula, were the bizarre stacks lying off the tip emerging of the fog. Luckily I withstood the temptation to proceed and cross right away to Hjalmarsnes.
The coast on the east side of the peninsula doesn‘t have spectacular high cliffs but the small basalt columns form a variety of arches and caves that is stunning and invited to paddle through, - timing the waves right! This stretch of coast to me was a highlight of the trip. The goal for the day was Porshöfn, where I decided to have a day of rest before the long paddle around Langaness.
It was my first „early“ start. Left Porshöfn at 8 and was prepared to paddle al the way to Eidi if it would be necessary without coming ashore, but the conditions were perfect and I had two stops on my way, one just behind Heidarnes and one at Skalar (which won‘t be a pleasant landing in rough conditions I guess). The land on the first stretch of Langanesss is flat but hasn‘t really convenient landing spots. Towards the tip there are more cliffs. Around Skoruvikurbjarg there was a big gannet colony and it was impressive to see the many big birds fly all around me. A bit off the tip of Lnganess there were spilling waves, which would be a nice place to play in but since I already had paddled about 8 hours and still had a way to go I easily could resist the temptation to do so. I reached Eidi at 21:00. Later it started to drizzle, but I felt relieved since Langaness to me was the crucial part of the trip and I had plenty of time left now to make the rest. The next 3 day‘s I made the stretch to Vopnafjördur, The weather was not as good as before but good enough to paddle; misty, light rain and probably up to force 4 winds (sorry I‘m not in these m/s). The coastline south of Digranes lighthouse is beautiful with stacks and reefs but it would have been a absolutely highlight in sunshine.
In Vopnafördur I had my second day of rest that I used for a day at the museum of Bustarfell.
I proceeded. There was no more rain but it was a bit windy and a swell of 1 to 1.5m. Later towards Bjarnarey the northerly wind caused some 0,5 to 1m wind waves with whitecaps. I wasn‘t sure were to land but the N side was no option as I saw when i approached. I turned south and had a short lovely ride with the wind and waves in the channel between Bjarnerey and the Headland. On the lee side of Bjarnerey there was a good landing place. Bjarnerey is a gem and especially for me on this day. I felt safe and since it is such a tiny Island exposed at the same time at a wind that was now probably a force 5. The wind was gusting during the night, The next morning there was sunshine, that highlighted the beautiful colored mountains on the other side of the channel and from the top of the lighthouse there was a view over the whole island and to the southeasterly side of Heradsfloi. On the rocky shore at the north side was a group of seals and there were puffins and kittiwakes nesting above the sea. I could have spent a week there.
partly cloudy whitecaps on the sea about force 4 again I paddled first for a while along the NW shore of Heradsfloi along the beautiful colored mountains first with the wind on my back and in following seas that dropped significantly after a while when I came in the lee of the mountains. After a couple of stacks that I paddled around I paddled towards the SE corner of Heradsfloi. It didn‘t look to promising there since there were clouds hanging over the mountains. The crossing was a nice paddle with quartering seas occasionally breaking, a constantly up and down. At Kögur Lighthouse the sea conditions were a bit chaotic with reflecting waves but after I rounded it I had the waves in my back all the way back into Borgarfjördur. Here I once more had the impression that paddling in following seas wears me out more (the same paddling time) then paddling against wind, cause I‘m always trying to catch waves and surf them. That basically resembles a workout session! In Bakkagerdi I hoped for a convenient landing, sheltered behind a long breakwater. But there was no beach or a ramp just big slippery boulders and in a corner loads of kelp and seaweed. The water was quite smelly. I paddled the boat in the kelp heap but since it was steep started to slip back immediately. I managed to scramble out of the boat a bit rusty of the long paddling day, and wanted to drag the boat on the „beach“, but sunk into this stinkin‘ seaweed way over my knees! Then a wave came in and the cockpit was flooded with the smelly kelp cocktail, and the whole boat was covered with weed. Spare paddle, chart, bungees .....I realized with my sharp analytic mind that this was not the ideal landing spot and started a glorious retreat.
Outside the breakwater I managed to make a more conventional landing with a bit more waves but without problems.
The next morning I found the reason for the fertile water behind the breakwater, when I saw a farmer with his tractor dumping a load of muck from the breakwater......
First I crossed Borgarfjördur and after 5 minutes or so realized that I had some pebbles in my skeg box so I couldn‘t use the skeg. I was looking for a place to land on the other side of the fjord and found after a 40 minute paddle a nice little harbor that I didn‘t see yesterday when I was focused on surfing towards the village. This would have been the place to go. I went to the slip, got out the pebbles and went on. The weather improved during the crossing of the fjord, but the wind also picked up a bit. Outside the fjord it was choppy again, and as soon as I turned east the sun disappeared till I passed Glettinganes Lighthouse.
The coastline was varying again behind Glettinganes, with reefs an basalt columns. I was heading for Husavik and since the weather improved more and more it was a very nice view paddling into the bay with the chapel over the steep meadows and the mountains in the background that still had some snow on top, - all under a blue sky! After dinner I had a walk to the chapel which was a welcome change to all the paddling.
Wonderfull weather again, but also quite windy with lots of picturesque whitecaps at sea when I slowly broke my tent and had a pleasant breakfast in the sun. I had to make a seal start, so there again was a pebble that jammed the skeg, I had to stay a bit off the coast cause of the waves and the off lying rocks, which was a good thing as I realized when almost hitting a reef paddling in the following waves dazzled by the sun! Made a stop on the northern entrance of Lodmundarfjördur, where it was sheltered from the NE wind and waves, to get out the pebble in water that was shallow enough so I could wade in it. After a lunch stop at Slettanes i was crossing Seydisfjördur. Between Skalanes and Dalatangi there were clouds hanging on the top of the cliffs which made the scenery looking a bit more intimidating right away. At Dalatangi Lighthouse there where quite confused waves reflecting from the cliffs and braking over shoals. The landing was a bit awkward too, since there was just a beach of football sized rocks and I had to scramble up a ledge to pitch up the tent. I had a brief chat with the lighthouse keeper and his wife. Ari was telling me already about this character. I was talking with him about the wind of the day but he didn‘t had the numbers at hand. He was guessing something 10-12 m/s. I would have said force 4 gusting to force 6 which would be about the same.
I had the feeling the wind had picked up a bit during the night. The sea was looking wonderful from above. Green with whitecaps illuminated by the sun again. I was thinking about staying ashore, but since I had the wind on my back and also the Fjords where I could escape in I started my last day. The wind already blew me a way, before I had closed my sprayskirt and as soon as I was blown out of the sheltered bay I felt the waves coming just out of the right direction. Before crossing Mjoifjördur I paddled along the coast in lovely following seas. It was trying to catch the waves all the way and getting a ride and ignoring the hissing sound followed by a woosh when they broke behind me. When I passed Mjoifjördur the waves became significantly smaller and I could cool down a bit before I finished the trip at the boathouse of Neskaupstadur.
Short after I emtpied the boat one of the members of the club Sweinn arrived to do some maintainance on his boat and showed me everything. Ari came just a bit later after I had sent him a text message and Auslur made a feast of waffles for the family and some of her friends that were for visit. That evening I also had a soak in the Sundlaug of Neskaupstadur before Ari made BBQ.... Civilization from time to time isn‘t a bad thing
A couple of days later I had a outstanding day paddle with some guys of the club, Oskar Ingolf Palmi Bjarki and Ari. It was a nice thing to paddle with these people again and I‘m really thankful they took me on this trip which was a highlight of my holidays. And also thanks so much to everybody being so helpfull, leting me stay with you, Kalli, Ari, Helga and Ingolf, and Palmi helping me out, being unorganized enough leaving half of my equipment in his car before I proceeded a bit further to the south making use of the time left.