We have two captains who sail the Tecla, one of them is me, Jet. I sail about 1 or 2 months per year as I relieve captain to Gijs, my bigger brother.
We have sailed together for 12 years and since 2014 we sail together for a month or so, each year. Last year we sailed together in Iceland. A place I had never been to before, but he had in 2016. Gijs had the opportunity to discover and explore some of the best places before I took over last year. We set down one of the evenings before he left and started pointing out all the amazing places we could visit in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. We had sailed up from Reykjavik in the two weeks previous and I had only seen one of the fjords so far.
Gijs explained to me that every fjord has its own beauty and had something else to offer. He got enthusiastic about almost every spot he pointed at, selecting 10 different anchorages I could use in just over 7 days… I thought that was a bit over exaggerated, a fjord is a fjord and ice is ice.. Boy was I in for a surprise! We set of into the fjords and managed to anchor under sail or leave under sail several times. We would round corners downwind and turn around the next corner with the wind still in our back.. or leave a fjord sailing close hauled, hoping to find a beam reach once we would clear the cliffs, only to have to tack into the next fjord.. Gijs laughed at my first reaction and just said, “Yes.. that’s fjord sailing for you”. We set of for hikes and I tried to join as often as possible, to be able to see it all before taking over the ship and guiding the next group through the fjords and over the hills!
The fjords in Hornstrandir which are our main focus during our week voyages in Iceland, are the Hesteyrarfjordur, Veidileysurfjordur, Lonafjordur, Hrafnfjordur and of course a visit to the Horn, but this is just outside the way of the fjords. Food for some other Captains Contemplation.
As I found out, each of these fjords has its own charms, its own challenges and its own amazing beauty. Hesteyrarfjordur has a small town at its mouth – Hesteyri – which is only inhabited in the summer, but has the best pancakes in the fjord region! But at the end of this same fjord you will find a secluded anchorage where you can wake up in the morning and look up to the cliffs on both sides and hear nothing but the waterfalls coming down on both sides.
Veidileysufjordur is slightly tricky to get in with the natural dams formed by old glaciers (spits), but it is well worth it! All the way in and around the corner you will find an amazing anchorage at the bottom of a melting ice mass. The hike up along this icecap starts off hard but once on top, you can look around on a big plateau and maybe even spot some foxes.
Lonafjordur starts wide and high and ends in two different anchorages. Excellent fjord to explore with the dinghy and go see more then 10 different waterfalls! If there is hardly any wind for sailing, a hike from Lonafjordur can be made to Veidileysufjordur where you will be picked up by the dinghy to bring you to the Tecla.
And then Hrafnfjorfur, deep and at the foot of the glacier Drangajokul it might be one of my favorites. Anchoring all the way in the back it seems like there is nobody and nothing else in the world then just the Tecla and almighty nature. Round rock boulders rest on hardly anything on top of the high cliffs and the tiniest Snow Bunting might start it rolling with the movement of a wing. On shore an amazing hike can be made along several waterfalls and over a small bridge – there for your convenience! And take your bathing suit as you will encounter a lake on top of the cliffs that is filled with Ice water clear as could be.
Beyond the lake, you can look down into a quiet green valley that ends straight into Furufjordur which is open to the Greenland Sound – or Denmark Straight.
Within just a few days, these fjords give us the opportunity to really show you Iceland. I would like to show everybody this piece of Iceland as I saw it for the first time. Snow still melting, waterfalls big and wild. Foxes in their summer dress, but still with white tails as a reminder of colder days. This small piece of the land of Ice and Fire gives you so much beauty and respect for nature, we are just a small boat sailing quietly along the shores, exploring, discovering and rediscovering a coastline with so much to offer.
In 2018 I will sail in Iceland again for just over a month setting sail around Hornstrandir and then setting sail for Akureyri – leaving these amazing fjords behind, but setting out to some more un-explored ground with many harbours and anchorages between Isafjordur and Akureyri, with as one of the last stops – the Arctic Circle on Grimsey.
Writing this short blog I am already looking forward to sailing around Hornstrandir Nature Reserve again. The amazing light, the sheltered sailing opportunities and the wildlife we encounter.. lets go, lets go tomorrow!!