|Sat 12-06-2021, 16:00Reykjavik, Iceland||Sun 20-06-2021, 08:00Isafjordur, Iceland||Tecla||8 Nights||TC-120621|
The West Coast of Iceland is the best sailing ground for many reasons. The sleeping volcano of Sneafellnes is snow capped all year round can be seen for miles. The Breidurfjordur is a giant bay of islands and mainland anchorages. There are great walks ashore and whales to look out for whilst sailing. The land is steeped in legend as this coast was where the first vikings settled. Tecla is heading for the remote NW Fjords. Walking in the meadows with Arctic foxes and looking down giant sea cliffs are part of the treats in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve near the end of your journey.
This is an expedition type voyage, but that doesn’t mean you need to have previous sailing experience. It would be a great multi activity trip for walkers and bird watchers.This particular voyage would suit adventurous beginners as there is a mix of exposed coastal sailing around some big headlands for a challenge, and some more sheltered sailing in the fjords. This along the coast voyage could be a bit tougher than the Isafjordur based voyages as you do need to journey about 150 miles from Reykjavik to the NW fjords. It can therefore equally suit the experienced sailor looking for an unusual new sailing ground or those itching to learn more about sailing a larger gaff rigged ketch. The waters around Iceland are renowned for spotting whales and so the wildlife spotter or nature lover in you will be right at home. On the land the bird watching is world class. The two berth cabins with private en-suite facilities with a shower mean you will also sleep comfortably in your heated cabin.
An epic sailing expedition on the edge of the Arctic circle, sail the wild west of Iceland during peak whale watching season. Killer whales, minke whales, humpbacks and dolphins along with great and arctic skua’s, razorbills, guillemots and puffins are common as you sail out of Reykjavik into Faxafloi bay and northwards along the western coast, around the snowy Sneafellsnes Mountains and across the Breidafjordur to the multiple fords in the NW of Iceland. This is well off the tourist track as many of the places here cannot be reached by car. Isafjordur has a small airport to fly back to Reykjavik.
Icelandic is Europe’s oldest language, so what you hear ashore is closer to the old Norse that Vikings spoke than modern Norwegian. The population today has a very modern, chic outlook in Reykjavik but in the rural hinterland and coast they endure pitch dark winters and enjoy the summer burst of energy created by living in the land of midnight sun. It shapes their character and links them with their past. Icelandic sagas tell the tale of Viking’s arriving here and making Iceland their home. After centuries of warring the Vikings created a huge amount of early literature and written stories so you can really connect with the lives of sailors and first settlers that lived around 870 BC.
On the edge of the Arctic circle and on the edge of civilization, Reykjavik is the world’s most Northern capital and the gateway to the wild west of Iceland. During the ten days of this voyage you will sail in a setting of snow covered slopes, shifting into fields of flowers in ever spectacular form and colour. Keep your eyes peeled for Orca (Killer whales), Fin whales, humpbacks and Sperm whales as this is a prime cetacean spot in Northern Europe. All Teca Iceland voyages offer a chance to explore the crews favourite place – the Hornstrandir National Nature Reserve.
On a sailing voyage, we never use the word itinerary, as skippers will always be aiming for the best sailing and shore landings for the forecast and most idyllic or sheltered anchors and ports. They are as keen as you to include some of the highlights described below, but you must go with mother nature, not fight her. The description below is based on what we think might be possible, based on past trips, or experience, but nothing is guaranteed on a sailing voyage.
Starting from Reykjavik, you will set off into the Faxafloi, the Arctic blue gives a magical twist to the mountains covered in mist. A good first stop on your expedition is Hvalfjordur, which translated means “Whale Fjord”. At its entrance lies the abandoned whale factory, witness to Iceland’s whaling past not so long ago.
Heading north in the shadow of the sleeping volcano, Sneafellnes and her “pyramid of eternal snow” can be seen from Reykjavik. This bay is littered with weather permitted anchorages, all different but of equal beauty. Arnastapi offers some excellent hikes up to Snaefellsjokull. This three peaked glacier rises 1446 metres above sea level and is famous for being the location for Jules Verne book Journey to the Centre of the Earth. There are plenty of caves in the lava pipes so you can see why he was inspired to tell a tale of a journey deep underground. There are crevasses in the glacier, so any walk on the ice will be subject to local conditions and advice.
Sneafellsnes mountain range is the natural border between the Faxafloi and the Breidafjordur, but also between the Westfjords and the rest of the country! Rounding the peninsula on a clear day the snow-covered table mountains of the Westfjord area make the difference very obvious. While on starboard we find the relatively young lava field at the foot of the Sneafellsnes, 30 NM to the North the volcanos, once trapped by the glaciers, leave a landscape of table mountains. We slowly make our way North, but not before exploring the Breidafjordur. Olafvik is another good place to start a hike up the slopes of the Sneafelsness, or just a stroll up one of the less demanding cliffs. Grundarfjordur 20NM further into the Breidafjordur, also offers some great walks after a good day sailing
Creeping further into the fjord among the many little Islands, “post-card-pretty” Stykkisholmur sits at its undisputable throne. To many, this colorful settlement is the most handsome in the country. If time and weather permit we descend a little further into the saga country. Navigating the tides and little Islands we enter Hvammsfjordur (Fjord of the Whales) Beautifully hidden behind natural barriers well of the beaten track. Another one of these places is the Island of Flatey. Once a busy trading port, now more laid back and favorite for many bird species. It gives a great view over the Breidafjordur. Being able to see both table mountains and the ice cap on the Sneafellnes give a scale to the place found no were else!
The South coast has many secluded anchorage worth exploring. One of these is Kevlavik (not to be mixed with Kevlavik airport) If weather permits we anchor in the shelter of the famous Latrabjarg opposite the orange refuge hut. For those who like, there is a challenging walk to these incredible bird cliffs. If the mood is less adventurous, the views from the beach are more than enough!
Rounding Bjargtangar we set ourselves up for the Westfjord and its towering cliffs. The hard ship the people had to endure here over the years, has proven too much for some. Simply driven back by the force of nature. High seas, avalanches and poor summers not producing enough hay for the livestock, slowly drained the population.
This deeply indented West coast harbours many safe havens. The glacial landscape is predominant with the ever-present Greenland Sund (Denmark strait). Branching of the North Atlantic drift, the Irminger current brings relatively mild temperatures. Its northern counterpart, the East Greenland current does the opposite by pushing the colder water South. Both of them collide right there on the Westfjords. Many different species of marine mammals feed on the plankton carried by the East Greenland current.
Crossing the entrance of the Isafjardardjup we arrive at the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Abandoned in the 1950’s Hornstrandir was left to look after its self. It is now home to most Arctic fauna that flourish in the short and intense summer. Arctic foxes roam freely, while Puffins, Kittiwakes, Razorbills and Guillemots nest on the towering sea cliffs! One of the highlights while in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is a walk up one of the cliffs of Hornbjarg. Amidst all the wild flowers you are sure to spot an Arctic fox or her cubs!
We end our trip in Isafjordur, the capital of the Westfjords with a staggering 1500 inhabitants! Two planes a day land at the air strip. For those who have some more time it is a great point to explore the rest of Iceland. Either by car bus or boat! Adam in Classic Sailing office has made the trip from Isafjordur to Reykjavik by hire car….which is an adventure in itself, before you even reach the ring road.
See our Reykjavik Port Page for flight tips on international and domestic flights in Iceland as well as a bit about accommodation in the city.
Gaff Ketch Tecla
Tecla is very much an adventure charter ship so the style of sailing is ‘hands on’ but her well trained staff recognise that her expedition style voyages attract all types and ages of guest crew. Whether you are a keen traditonal sailor who want to learn all the ropes, a bird watcher or a sea lover who just wants to experience a romantic way of travelling, you can all feel part of this little ships community and do what you can manage to help sail the ship and contribute to life on board. She originally sailed with 16 but now prefers to keep guest crew numbers to only 12, so you find the ship pretty spacious.
The saloon is a nice place to socialise and relax below decks. Upholstered seating and a large library of exploration and wildlife books in several languages add to the homely feel and a radiator keeps things warm, as does the galley area opposite. You can chat to the cook, but don’t try pinching the cakes till they are ready!
There are two person cabins with cozy duvets and linen provided. The cabins have heating (radiators) and a huge amount of headroom. You can latch the door open for more air in hotter climes and there is an opening porthole for natural light. All cabins have a toilet (that doesn’t need any pumping!) and a shower en-suite.
winds / how rough / climate etc – keep it generic rather than seasonal.
Whether you are an experienced sailor or a complete beginner, the professional crew will train you to be guest crew from the moment you arrive, with the intention that everybody works together to sail the ship. The common thread to all Classic Sailing holidays is ‘Hands on’ participation on ships that use ropes, blocks and tackles and ‘people power’ to set sail.
Tecla has two berth cabins with a sink and a washroom ensuite with a toilet and shower. Each cabin has a porthole high up in the cabin roof that can be opened and a radiator for heating or drying clothes. See the vessel page for photos of the interior and more.
We cater for a wide range of ages and physical abilities and how much you are expected to do varies a bit between vessels. See the vessel tab above which explains all about the ‘sailing style’ and what to expect in terms of hands on participation. There is a lot of information about day to day life, the ships facilities and accommodation on the vessel pages.
Every customer sailing with us will need to fill in basic medical questions on their booking application. If you are not sure if your current level of fitness and agility are up to a voyage, then please ring the Classic Sailing Office on 01872 58 00 22 and we can chat through your concerns and possibly find options that might suit you better.
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
Join Tecla in Reykjavik by heading to the yacht harbour in front of the opera house where you will find your ship. When Tecla arrives back into Reykjavik, she is more likely to be in the Old Harbour. Both are next to each other and within walking distance, you can get a bus or taxi right to the boat.
Joining location for Blue Clipper is likely to be similar to the map below.
Any changes will be communicated to you before your voyage start date. Make sure you make a note of the ship’s number found in your confirmation email in case of any problems on the day.
Nearby Reykjavik City Airport is the departure airport for domestic flights in Iceland such as Isafjordur. Isafjordur–
Isafjordur is easy to reach by plane. There is a flight twice a day. From the airport you can get to the Tecla by bus, which stops at the hotel just 2 minutes walking away from Tecla. Or you can rent a car and drive. It is possible to rent the car and leave it on the airport on both sides. Take some time and see more of Iceland along the way!
THIS IS TECLA standard voyage kit list. Specialist Antarctic kit list to follow shortly
There is limited storage space on Tecla so please pack all you belongings in a soft rucksack or bag.
What did you enjoy the most? Very difficult to separate out the various events but certainly the fjord voyage was better due to the increased variety of the programme. What was the worst bit? A shore-to-ship rib transfer in rough and windy conditions. Why do you sail? Freedom, adventure, commonality of purpose. Summary of the voyage. Any initial doubts as to the number and experience of the crew were very quickly dispelled and we were impressed with the knowledge and the handling skills of the skipper and the 2 mates. Every opportunity was taken to enhance our enjoyment on both voyages and at every stage we were made to feel relaxed and under no obligation to crew the ship under sometimes testing (but enjoyable) conditions. As an observation, we must congratulate the skipper for her culinary skills under difficult conditions..........the food was perfect for the voyage. Two voyages on Tecla Spring 2019
This was a great voyage. A great mix of sailing in Scottish waters, some super hikes and an opportunity to see some of the immensely important historical sites in the Orkneys and Sheltands. Mooring alongside in Fair Isle was a great privilege. The ocean passage to the Faroes was quiet but as a result we were blessed with clear skies whilst slinking in and out of the islands and some of the best coastal views one could hope to see anywhere. The ocean passage to Iceland was a bit of a bimble until we were 60 miles off and then it got exciting. Thanks to a great skipper and permanent crew we snuggled into a fjord whilst the cruise ship ran aground in Reykjavik harbour. A good holiday, an adventure and fun. K Barker, Tecla Ullapool to Reykjavik, May 2018
What was the best bit? Sailing under the Skye Bridge on a windy, sunny morning. .. What was the worst bit? Being sea sick on the first day, but I can't blame the boat or the crew for that - just the stormy weather. Why do you sail? I have never sailed before, this was a 'give it a try' holiday - it hasn't put me off doing it again sometime Any other comments An enjoyable week in less than ideal weather conditions. The crew was competent and friendly, the catering excellent - I wouldn't hesitate to recommend a voyage on Tecla." Jonathan E. Sailing in Scotland
"Brilliant, I would do it again tomorrow. And good value too. Food was excellent. I loved the spicy meat balls and my wife loved the fresh langoustines." Steve.
The voyage was " a delight. A competent and engaging professional crew, an interesting voyage with some challenges and some great rewards. Good companions to make the log spin around." Mike
What aspects did you enjoy most? "The sailing from Faroes isles to Iceland in perfect weather." What aspects did you enjoy least? "cannot answer this question as enjoyed every single moment" If you could sum up the trip? "It was my first voyage. I just thought I like being out, I like being active, and I like the sea, so I will have a look at sailing. After that marvellous experience I will certainly continue." Annon feedback form May 2015
Sailed on Tecla to St Kilda in June - amazing crew (Gijs, Janet, Barbara) and great company. I loved everything about the trip and strongly recommend to join the Tecla folks. Most enjoyable classic sailing with great food, true sense of teamwork, great guidance and good sense of humour. Can't get any better." Cheers, Thomas M.
"Best Experience Ever (5 stars for sailing, crew and food) " David on TC28/04/14
I sailed aboard Tecla from Oban to the Scillies in very early May. It was cold, wet and mostly pretty windy. It was thoroughly excellent. The Tecla is a great little ship, but it was the skipper and crew (paid and "trainees") that made it for me. Great job, thanks guys. I plan to come again. Steve W
I‘d never been sailing in Iceland or on Tecla so this was a double first for me. What I like about remote places is that the people you meet are welcoming and pleased to see you. They seem to be secure in their communities and proud of where they live. In 8 days in Iceland I only saw one policeman very very briefly. Not at the airport but following us for about 30 seconds in a police car in Reykjavik. Was it cold in Iceland, Yes and No, on arrival there was no need for more than 2 layers on top and one below. But later when sailing and the wind picked up from the north it did require 5 top layers and 2 below but we were less than 30 miles from the Arctic Circle! Overall I really enjoyed the voyage and the wildlife. Adam Purser June 2018
Globe trotting Tall Ship Tecla in action and images. This historic gaff ketch is our Iceland Specialist and also has Greenland Sailing Expeditions. Photos from Classic Sailing customers, ships crew and professional photographers. We hope it gives a flavour of her sailing, life on board, the people that come, her beautiful sailing grounds and what it is like to live below decks.
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