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Ship's Log: Adventures of Blue Clipper

Blue Clipper

Log Book Entries from Blue Clipper's 2018 Adventures!

Blue Clipper's 2018 season is well underway, her epic journey began in Portugal after her winter refit. Since then, we have been receiving regular reports from both the guest crew who have booked on for individual legs and from the working crew onboard as she makes her way to her Arctic home for the summer.

Blue Clipper in Ullapool
Blue Clipper in Ullapool

The first trip left Ullapool on the 18th April, heading for the Faroes

Sunday 22nd April.

 

Arrived today about 10am. Torshavn is really cute. As it is Sunday most things are shut, but the guests and crew have been exploring the town. There is a really nice bit with old turf roofed houses and winding little streets. Weather has been drizzling all day.

There is a couple of beautiful traditional boats in the harbour, and our Blue Clipper looks great. Almost the whole town must have come to drive past and have a look! There has been local rowing teams going past all day practicing in their wooden boats. Rowing is the national sport.

Monday 23rd April.

 

Today Ian, our cooks mate joined some of our guests for an afternoon visit to Kirkjobour. It is the oldest known settlement on the Faroes, dating back to Irish monks who had settled here before the age of the vikings.

The settlement has a white church perched by the sea, in a remote and moody setting. There is also an 1100 year old house there, which is still inhabited, and still has some of its original timbers!

Tomorrow we will be departing Torshavn at 1000 and sailing up through Hestfjordur past the islands of Koltur and Hester before entering the Vestmanna Sound to view the famous bird cliffs. We will be spending the night in the township of Vestmanna to see another side of Faroese life before departing Wednesday morning for our crossing to Iceland.

Blue Clipper on the horizon

 

Blue Clipper arrives in Vestmanna, Bird Cliffs

 

25th April: The crew had a lovely voyage through the Faroes and are looking forward to a delicious meal tonight cooked by Esme, the amazing ship's cook!

The guests and crew are enjoying the famous Vestmannabjorgini (Vestmanna bird cliffs). These cliffs provide safe nesting places during the summer months for thousands of sea birds such as puffins, razorbills, guillemots and fulmars. In the past and also to some degree today, locals would climb down the cliffs to collect bird eggs which are considered a delicacy by the Faroese. 

Blue Clipper in the Faroes

25th April: Time: 0400, position, 62 31.8N 010 44.5W cars 275 speed 9kts We are 100nm out from Vestmanna, the colourful little town that was our last stop in Faroe Islands. We departed at 1100 and left Vestmanna Sund, cruising up the west side of the island of Stremoy to see the dramatic bird cliffs that make this coastline famous. Then it was time to turn our bow towards Iceland and make sail.
With our mainsail, schooner sail, staysail and jib flying, Blue Clipper dances over the waves.
With 20kts of wind, and a beam reach we are making good time towards our next destination. Voyage crew are enjoying our watch routine, taking turns to helm, and at 0400 it is almost daylight.
Attached is a photo of the rock formation 'trolls wife's finger' sticking out from the sea

Troll's fingers

Blue Clipper approaches Iceland: 

27th April: Time 1300 BST, pos 63 08N 017 43W

Closest point of land Alvidruhamar 22nm NNW sighted Iceland at 0945 today, our view as we approach is of blue sky studded with many cumulus clouds, pale grey and white. In the distance looming glaciers, capping white the rugged black cliffs. Seabirds wheel and dive. The pre noon watch caught our first glimpse of a whale only 50 m from the ship. We are approaching Icelandic plate and the ocean floor will shoal from over 1000m deep to only 200. 

Hoping to sight more wildlife this evening as we draw closer. 

Expected arrival in Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar Island tomorrow 6pm. 

Attached a photo arriving into the south coast of Iceland 

Approaching Iceland on Blue Clipper

They arrived at the town of Heimaey, on Vestmannaeyjer (Westman Island) on the 28th April at 0600. The views on the passage were recorded as breathtaking, with clear skies tinted sunrise colours, small green islands with dramatic cliffs and in the background of it all, the ice capped peaks of the mainland. 

The water inside the sheltered bay is an astonishing azure and many birds circle the cliffs. After arrival and breakfast, we had all day to explore the islands and many sunlight hours to do it. Most people made it to the top of Edlfell, a volcano that erupted in 1973m covering one third of the town in volcanic debris. Some others also walked to the south side of the island to view the nesting birds from above. All have agreed that this is a very special place, and a jewel of a find. We are very happy to have had the opportunity to visit and hope to return one day! 

Heimaey in Iceland

30th April: After departing Vestmannaeyjer yesterday afternoon, we set sail inside the sheltered harbour and Blue Clipper rounded the rugged cliffs and turned her bow towards the mainland. It was an exciting time as the intrepid crew took to the bowsprit to loose the jiib amidst crashing waves, as we passed through jagged outcrops in the hazy half light of the moonless night. The frosty morning found us in Flaxafloi Bay, where we marvelled at the snow capped vistas as the sun broke through. In the afternoon we made our way up the wild and scenic Hvalfjordur to anchor next to a small group of islands, covered with colourful scarecrows. On the beach, we can see a steaming hot pot, the likes of which are scattered across Iceland. 

The snow is falling lightly outside, but we are all warm and cozy on our Blue Clipper, looking forward to exploring the area tomorrow. 

Blue Clipper in Iceland with hot tub!

 

Blue Clipper's First Icelandic Voyage

Blue Clipper sits at Brokey Yacht Club in Reykjavik, in the shadow of the Harpa Concert Hall, one of Icelands’ most distinctive landmarks. Her sails are stowed, her cabins are made up, all ready for her new crew to arrive. Our last voyage, up from Ullapool to Reykjavik was an epic 2 week sail of exploration and discovery. We are looking forward to sharing our new favourite places with our next crew, as well as finding more gems in this land of Fire and Ice.

2pm arrives, and with it our voyage crew, ready to start their Icelandic Adventure. We bond together over jokes and a delicious dinner. Jonas, our Bosun explains that tomorrow will be a ‘Roll and Go’, a nautical expression meaning roll out of bed, cast off the lines, set the sails, and go! All before breakfast!

So at 0600 all hand were on deck, early though it was, in the bright daylight of the northern latitudes. Off-signing deckhand Pau was there to cast off the dock lines, and wave us goodbye as we set off on our journey. The first leg was over 100nm across the wide mouth of Faxafloi Bay, to get us to the top of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. We broke watches for the journey across, with everyone getting a chance to take the helm, trim the sails, and look out across the deep green swell to spot fishing boats (and hopefully Whales!)

At first we had a nice SSW’ly breeze to push us northwards, and through the day it fell and backed to the SSE as we neared the western end of the Peninsula. A Coast Guard helicopter dropped by to say hello, and take some pictures of us underway.

As we rounded the Snaefellsjokull Glacier at the tip of the land, we hoped that the visibility would clear up so that we could see through to the snowy mountain tops, but instead, as we strained our eyes landward, we spotted whale spouts!

Whales! The cry went up inside the salon, and people came out armed with their cameras to catch a glimpse of the fins and back of the cetaceans as they swam on past. There were 2 distinct groups, probably humpbacks, hanging out between us and the shore.

0500 in the morning found us anchored off of Grundarfjordur, in the shadow of the magnificent Kirkjokull, one of Icelands most memorable sights. It was awe inspiring sailing in towards this giant peak, shaped like a wizards hat, as the grey light faded, and seeing the rugged snowy peaks of the peninsula in the background as we approached the anchorage.

The helm order was to steer towards the huge waterfall until we reached the right soundings to drop the anchor! Everybody was very impressed at our new find, looking at a chart you can’t really tell what the landscape will be like, but we felt sure we had chosen the right place to come.

We took Blue Clipper alongside after breakfast, so that everybody had the chance to go ashore, and to explore this beautiful location, finding the famous lookout spot up an inlet, where the view of Kirkjokull over the small tiered waterfalls is one of the most photographed images of Iceland.

Some people went later in the day to the other, larger waterfalls on the other side of town, whilst others found a cosy café to while away the time writing postcards or diaries, whilst drinking hot chocolate.

Blue Clipper in Iceland with a Rainbow

At dinner time we departing the charming town of Grundarfjordur, with promises to the harbourmaster to return again, and turned our bow towards Olafsvik, a small fishing village further to the west. Olafsvik harbour was very busy with fishing boats, the lifeblood of the village, but they found a space for us to tie alongside a very large fishing vessel. The crew were in great spirits as they took turns throwing across the heaving lines to the waiting linesmen aboard “Orval”, our neighbour boat for the night.

Olafsvik was another cute village with an impressive waterfall being the main feature, cascading down behind the town. The harbourmaster made a few phone calls to ensure the local bar would stay open for us in the evening, and most went ashore to enjoy the Icelandic hospitality! The lovely barmaids stayed up for us until we were ready to go back to our big blue Schooner home.

But when we got back, there was an adventure to get back onto the ship! Some quick thinking by the crew, and quick manoeuvring by our fearless leader, Captain Chris Rose, has us snugged up alongside “Orval” again, and everyone over the gangway and back to the salon.

After lunch the next day, tasty seafood chowder and fresh bread prepared by our Superchef Esme, we set out from Olafsvik for another long passage. We had 30kts of wind, and a very exciting departure from “Orval”, where the harbourmaster and Co had come to cast us off. When we got out we set the Staysail, and ran with that, doing over 7 kts, until we got into the lee of the Peninsula.

On the way we passed some very bumpy looking fishing boats, pitching and riding up onto the waves, they were heading into the weather, and getting some major air before crashing down again into the troughs. Our creq were happy that we were going with the weather, and having our sails for stability, we had a much more comfortable ride.

In the Lee of the Snaefellsjokull Glacier we set our Mainsail with a reef in it, half a mile from the stunning lava fields, and the headed south along the shore. Some crew swear that they spotted the Trolls that had been turned to rock, as in one of the Icelandic legends.

Later on we set the Schooner Sail and the Jib, and set course to the SE, heading for our favourite anchorage in Hvalfjordur. We had such a great sail, at one point hitting 10 kts under sail, which was cause for a celebratory dance. Breaking the 10 knot barrier! Our speed just continued to rise after that, until we hit 11.8 knots, what a buzz for the crew on deck, sailing along at that speed with the wind in our hair and sea spray on our faces.

In the early hours of the morning we were again tacking up Hvalfjord, one tack taking us in close to a cosy little village, the next back towards a lovely little waterfall, and again back towards the towering snow-capped mountain until it was time to take in the sails and drop anchor in Hvammsvik.

The colourful scarecrows on the tiny islands made a charming foreground to the panoramic landscape. On the beach the steaming hotpot inviting us to come and take a dip. Our last day of this voyage a favourite for many, as we were in the real, secluded Iceland.

The evening found us making our way back to Reykjavik, alongside again in Brokey Yacht Club, where we sat down to supper and talked of our many fond experiences. Delicious Scottish Whisky was shared around by some of our great voyage crew, and we even managed to persuade the ships carpenter, the multi-talented Gavin, to play us a percussion solo on the whisky-box bongos!

We really are lucky to have our chance to explore Iceland and its many wonders, what a fabulous cruising ground, and a well-kept secret to sailors. If you really want a unique and special experience on board, High Latitude sailing is the way to go!

Follow the ship's live updates as they spend the next few weeks exploring Iceland's coast before making her way further north towards the east coast of Greenland, Jan Mayen and Svalbard. From there, a series of adventure voyages will see Blue Clipper sailing with the Polar Bears in Spitsbergen and in the stunning Lofoten Islands. 

If you like the sound of sailing from Scotland to Iceland, but missed the boat this year, then take a look at Blue Clipper's schedule in 2019. If you cannot wait that long, there are still some places left in the Arctic for the 2018 season. 

View the full schedule here. 

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