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Steve and Sarah on Eldfell volcano

We haven’t posted for a while, but that is only because we have been having fun and not had the time 😄

After 2,5 days at sea we arrived in Vestmannaeyjar, which have one of the nicest harbour entrances we have visited. High dramatic cliffs and lots of sea birds.

sunset at the Westman islands

Sailing to Iceland was a bit of an emotional experience for Sarah, who has an Icelandic grandmother. It was so nice to cross it off her bucket list.

Our trip across the ocean from the Faroe Islands was almost as expected – the wind was a little slow to pick up and when it finally did, it was a little stronger that the forecasts. We had made the boat ready with our smaller staysail in case the wind would pick up too much and started our with 2 reefs the main sail, but none of it was needed despite gusts of over 35 knots, The passage was bumpy and for the first 1,5 days it was almost impossible to heat food and water because of the large rolling waves throwing things about. But other than that it was an uneventful sail – no whales only a few dolphins (You have sailed too much when dolphins are not making you all excited anymore 😂🫣).

The most eventful was the VHF call from the coastal guard asking us to send the cruising papers, which we had made ready but thought we needed to give to them at arrival. So for future sailors – remember to send papers to the coastguard before you leave.

Sunny days at Vestmannaeyjar

Sarah was very excited about getting to go to Vestmannaeyjar again as she had been there as a child and remembered the volcano and the cliffs full of puffins. She was also a little traumatised by the story of puffin hunting as she was very fond of her puffin teddy bear.

We arrived and was met by a friendly harbour master and customs officer and then we were free to wander about. Now the time had passed 20.30 and we were starving and excited about the opportunity to eat out again. However we learned that most places closed at 21 and hangry and low on sleep we wondered into Westmann islands Street Food (We are not sure this is really a street food place as it seems more like a family restaurant). They still served food and had a vegetarian burger and fish & chips, so both Sarah and Steve were happily eating and drinking a pint when the karaoke came on! Sarah likes to sing and they quickly noticed this and invited her to join in (which she is normally too shy to do but the mix of being tired and finally getting to Iceland brought out the karaoke queen in her). That didn’t happen to Steve however as he is traumatised by his years in the pub industry. The people at the place are so friendly and welcoming and so far this has been the best service in Iceland. Also so nice that the chef can put on a shimmering jacket and sing karaoke when there is nothing to do in the kitchen.

Visiting Eldfell volcano and museum

One of the things Vestmannaeyjar is really well known for is the volcanic eruptions in 1972, which came quickly and meant the Americans had to help evacuate the 5000 citizens and left many homesless. Since last time Sarah was there they have built Eldheimar museum that display one of the houses that has now been uncovered from the ash and the dramatic story.

Walking to the top of the volcano gives a magnificent view of the islands and the trail is quite easy, but on a windy day it is still a little scary to be at the top.

Eating out in Vestmannaeyjar

There are so many nice places to eat at this small community, so we didn’t have the chance to try all the places, but we didn’t have a bad dining experience. The best one, however, was Restaurant Næs, where the waitresses were observant and the chef was creating magic in the open kitchen.

The food at restaurant Næs

We also got a chance to try the pizzas at Voruhusid which were so good and looking around we also really wanted to try some of the other food, but had our plates full with what we ordered.

We also tried the beers from the The Brothers Brewery and bread from Vigtin Bakhus, which both were very nice but the service took the experience down a little bit as they both places seemed a little careless about the customers.

Hiking and puffin watching

We really wished that we had more time than 3 days at Vestmnnaeyjar as it is a beautiful place with some lovely people. On the harbour you will see a that all the RIBs have covered the from with blankets. It is because the still enjoy puffin hunting in their spare time. A friendly Icelandic guy invited us out on a hunt, but both Steve and Sarah are a little too fond of puffins to get that experience. We would have enjoyed the RIB trip though.

Instead we had planned to go to the puffin nesting area and it is a really beautiful trip there. Again we were sad that we didn’t have bicycles on board, but luckily there are a lot of electric scooters in town, and they are not too expensive and a fast way to get to the edge of town.

We took a scooter to the edge of town and then walked along the west coast where we got to see a lot of bird and some puffins on the vertical cliffs. As we didn’t have the bikes and because the puffins are most active in the evening and in the morning, we didn’t make it all the way to the puffin colony (which is the largest in the world), because we hadn’t planned it with us not having had dinner. This was the final straw and now we made a quick decision and ordered two Brompton foldable bikes.

Sarah also decided to climb the iconic hike on Heimaklettur after several icelandic said it was a piece of cake. Feeling very Icelandic she walked over there with enthusiasm, but her face whitened a little bit when she saw the two ladders in the beginning. After a friendly American family ensured her that it was worth it, she decided to attack it. At the second ladder she almost gave up because of the height, but as she pushed forward and got to the top – it was very much worth it.

You can find all the hikes and ratings here

View from the top of Heimklettur

Leaving for Reykjavík

The next day we got up early to sail to Reykjavík – a somewhat short sail of 24 hours where we made the error of not prepping the food. Sometimes we get into the habit of planning the longer crossings so much, that the other trips seem easier, but there can still be waves on short trips. Luckily, we had no problems this time (and always have plenty of snacks ready).

Just as we were relaxing Sarah spots a group of 6-8 orcas (killer whales). Seeing them has been on Sarahs dream list since her father saw them on a RIB in Vestmnnaeyjar that she was not allowed to go on because she was too small (Sarah has never felt too small for anything, so she was very unhappy with not going).

They were quite close to us and this is a little scary because of all the orca attacks in Portugal, but as it hasn’t happened in Iceland we felt somewhat safe.

After that it was just heavy rain all the way into Reykjavík and our VHF cockpit handset finally died, but how wonderful it was to arrive and moor in the centre right next to the beautiful concerthall Harpa.

Picture of the Orcas on the camera screen

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