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We arrived in the Faroe Islands!

It was more emotional to say goodbye to UK than we expected. Firstly because it’s the first time Steve has left with no specific plan for a return and secondley because Sarah really enjoyed being there with all the great people, restaurants and amazing places. But after some days in Stornoway we had the right weather window to go (The weather forecast always looks more perfect in a few more days time which teases you to wait, but if we did then we would never get anywhere).

So we decided to motor for a few hours with the current in our favour to the most northern anchorage in the Outer Hebrides. This is at the Port of Ness where we planned to get a few hours of sleep before crossing to the Faroe Islands. We did this because the Faroe Islands are surrounded by very strong tidal currents that you need to carefully plan for, in particular when you are arriving from the south and are a day and a half sailing time away.

rocks off the coast of the Isle of Lewis

We weighed anchor when it was still dark and we had a downwind sail just as predicted, but it was less wind than the forecast (which is unusual for us) so we were not as fast as expected.

If you have followed the blog you probably know that we are not the enthusiastic offshore sailors. We see it as a thing you have to do to get to the wonderful places but we always feel that the pleasure of arriving is much greater when you have had a bumpy time at sea.

Despite the light winds and moderate swell we had some quite bumpy hours on the way to the Faroe Islands. It wasn’t the horrible waves that beat hard on the hull, but confused rolling swells on the aft quarter that made being below hard as everything was constantly in motion.

Sailing boat with gennaker passing north rona uk

But the wind soon picked up and our boat speed increased to 7 knots per hour with our gennaker flying. As the Butt of Lewis disappeared behind us a few dolphins came along to say goodbye to the UK. Our routing meant we passed close to the remote uninhabited island of North Rona soon after the sun had risen and we settled into a relatively easy crossing with winds between 12 and 18 knots for the next 24 hours.

The lighter winds at the start meant that we were a couple of hours later than planned as we approached the fog shrouded Faroe Islands. The tides were starting to turn meaning we briefly had 3 knots of current against us. We had planned and timed our route to avoid the more turbulent waters of the southern tip of Suduroy but the location of the eddies and overfalls are not well documented. Fortunately our radar was picking up some of the larger standing waves so we adjusted our heading to ensure we avoided these and passing close by them we could see the force of the water even at relatively slack tides. We certainly wouldn’t like to be here at the wrong time in big winds!

This delay was a little annoying as we were expecting a big Eurovision final party in the local pub in the town. More about this later!

Warm welcome in Vágur

When we arrived at Vágur we could see that the main purpose of the harbour was not for leisure boats, like it often is in Scottish marinas. This was a working harbour walled with old lorry tyres, limited electric outputs and a single water tap. Luckily there were just a few fishing boats and we were the only visiting boat (the second visiting boat this year) so we could park next to the electrical power and water tap. As we arrived a local guy drove by with his little girl to see the boat and help us with the mooring lines. He told us they didn’t have many visitors, so they had to come and see who was visiting. He told us to go to the local bar that is only open Friday and Saturday to watch eurovision. We needed a little nap and really wanted to just stay and relax at the boat but pulled ourselves together at went to the pub. As we got there there was no Eurovision and only 2 people, so we ended up going back to the boat. Neither of us really watch Eurovision anyway.

We quickly realised that we had been noticed as a procession of cars regularly drove slowly through the harbour and stopped to look at the boat. Some to have a chat with us but quite a few just drove on expressionless when we waved at them. If we had been in a country with high crime we would have been nervous, but here it just feels like interest in who is visiting the town.

The friendly harbour master came to see us and told us he would let the police and customs know about our arrival.

Hiking at Eggjarnar

It is said that you will experience all seasons in a day here, but so far we had only experienced fog and a little rain.

So when we woke up to a sunny day and felt all stiff after the sailing we decided to walk to the beautiful viewpoint Eggjarnar. It was a 3 kilometres to the spot and on the way we saw so many of the cute Faroese sheep and newly born lambs that the walk wasn’t particularly fast. We also got to see the abandoned LORAN station that was built by the Americans during the Second World War.

Sadly we could not find any places we wanted to dine – all were more like wild-west fast food places and then we prefer to cook ourselves.

Drone video from Eggjarnar

Meeting locals in Tvøroyri

The following day with very little wind we decided to motor to the next harbour and town of Tvøroyri because this should be the bigger one on the island. The mooring here was just a sketchy wooden dock where we needed to extend our power cable to reach the supply. We got a little creative in the way we tied to the dock which had broken and rotten wood sides, large rusty nails sticking out and just a couple of old tyres tied hanging down to protect the boats. We needed to get out the fender board, the big mooring springs and our big inflatable fenders as there were some strong winds due the following day.

The big mooring springs in action

The electricity would not work but the harbourmaster soon arrived to fix it, and shortly after we had a visit from the friendly local police who scanned our passports (We learnt later that there is a new system for immigration and customs, and visiting boats should telephone at least 24 hours ahead of arrival. The numbers to call are on the port of Torshavn website).

The town had some nice old houses and a beautiful church. We wanted to walk to the beautiful vale next to the town but the fog was so thick that it seemed useless so we walked towards the only cafe Mormors to try it. On our way we were stopped by a local man Helgi who invited us for coffee at his place. We got to visit with his lovely wife and then he took us for a drive around the island. First we got to see the local boat club they had bought for a penny and made all cosy and welcoming. Then we drove to a town where a guy had drifted ashore (many years ago) after jumping off a cliff at another island and a local had killed him and stolen his gold rings.

And then we got to see the pretty valley as the fog had lifted on our way back to see his boat and boat house. Steve got a surprise when the first boat we see up in the loft was an old wooden Fireball which is the class of boat he sailed and raced as a teenager. It had been built from a kit and was probably the only one to have ever been on the Faroe Islands. It was such an amazing day and we were all tired (also because the previous night had been horrible with lots of gust and waves).

But when we got back to our boat we were met by another local guy who invited us for pancakes and coffee at his place. We learnt that he was a sailor all his life and he currently worked out of Grimsby in the UK for a company servicing the wind farms. We were absolutely amazed by the friendliness of the local people here.

We and some the locals we spoke to were puzzled as to why we were directed to the old wooden dock rather than the relatively new harbour. The pilot books suggest this is because the harbour is busy with fishing boats but it was empty the entire time we were there.

Heading to Sandoy

After some careful planning for the strong tidal currents in Suðuroyarfjørður strait we continued north to Sandoy and was looking forward to seeing the islands lìtla and Stóra Dínum but the fog was so heavy that we couldn’t see anything. We came to the harbour, which is very industrial and had to put together all our power leads to get to plug. We just made it.

The town was cute with an old wooden church but we were quite lonely at the harbour. Except for the locals driving by and looking at the boat while driving off quickly as soon as we waved. We will stop the waving so we don’t scare them off from now on.

Our next stop will be the Capital, Torshavn.


  1. HCS Editor

    I envy you and your crew having last sailed into Torshavn in 1971 with Tilman, en route Reykjavik, Isafjordhur, Angmassalik and Sehested’s Fjord. Perhaps a little more ice back then but these must still be wonderful cruising waters with modern technology. I’ll be enjoying your voyage vicariously from afar. Have fun!

    1. Steve Bradley

      Thank you very much for your comments, you are right that modern tech makes the experience a lot different to the 70s. And definitely a lot less Ice. We had temperatures in the mid 20s last year in Svalbard.

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