Höfn

We visited Höfn twice. First time as day tourists taking the courtesy of hitched cars. The second time we arrived at two in the morning after eight hours of hard paddling in soame challenging conditions. Those were not dangerous on their own. However the combination of swell from side, strong tail wind, low to no visibility and rain, and shore where landing wasn’t possible made the last two hours a slightly anxious ones. Nevertheless we reached the harbour and proceeded to paddle to the campsite. Our first visit was filled with sunshine, sightseeing, and visits to shop and pool. When we had enough we just simply walked away. The second visit proved to be more complicated. We could not reach the campsite being halted by shallow waters some half a mile before the site. Poof, went our dream of flat grass, dry toilets and access to washing machine. Where to now?

We decided to land in the harbour on a slipway as most of the Höfn natural areas have large non-camping signs. Then we pitched a tent across the road, behind an empty boat trailer, among the tire tracks hoping that no one would object, for we will be staying here more than one night. 

The rest of the night was rainy and windy, and full of hooting cars. They thought it was a great idea to beeb a horn when passing a tent at five in morning.

We got up with the idea that since it is a bit miserable and we were not in the most convenient spot maybe we could find ourselves a roof and a bed. As we began our search, we slowly realised where we are compare to where we have been. Everything was fully booked, including hotels with rooms for over 40 000 ISK (over £300). Wow, we were used to being almost the only guests so far. True, we had some signs of what’s going on on our first visit here, the shop was very well stocked, and full of people. People, who jump out of their cars quickly grab what they need and speed off. People on mission to see everything and take pictures of everything in the very limited time they have for it. We reached the tourist hive.
Sadly it looks like there are more tourists than Höfn is prepared to deal with. The tourist centre is glamorous, but to get information, e.g. accommodation, from the guys there, resulted in us being pointed to computer with internet. No public laundry, only wash machine was in the campsite, where they were only offering the service to customers. I have to say, in the end, after our insistent persuasion, and maybe because we stayed long enough, they kindly agreed. The pool was great, but no longer can one get complimentary coffee or have it by the hot tub.

We may look like tourists in our land clothes, but our time zone is even slower than local one. Slowly we realised how lucky we were so far, either it was due to the remoteness of places or pre tourist season, not sure.

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East fjords

For one and half days have we enjoyed what the town of Neskaupstadur had to offer. For our needs it was more than enough. Firstly we were welcomed by Ari from local kayak club and were offered to stay in their building. It was an important stop for us, as Gudni kindly sent here a box with the few things that we could not fit in the boat in Reykjavik, mainly our last bottle, of whisky, the Laphroig. Once that is finished, we will be on our own. Other facilities in the town were the pool, the shop, the Vinbudin and a two cafes. In one short sentence: electricity, wifi, warm water, entertainment. Once the weather allowed us to paddle again we were off, the east fjords this time. We paddled for three days, and watched the road go by. It reminded me of someone having traced a hand on paper. Each headland being a finger. Only this hand had more than five fingers. I imagined the cars going up around and inside to go up and around again. Every time a car appeared at the corner of the headland, I sympathised with them for they must have looked what’s next and see the road on the other side of the fjord knowing that sooner of later, they would have to go on the other side. They had our sympathy, as every time we crossed a fjord and reached a headland, there was another one or two sticking out waiting for us. 

In the same time, we enjoyed the east fjords, we had all weather: rain, sun, fog, wind. The hills, peaks, and mountains looked different, colours ranged from green to grey, brown, cream, white and black. We paddled past islands and skerries, and landed on some. The swell was playfully breaking over the reefs around us making it harder to land, but inviting Michal to play. Sadly with fully loaded expedition boat he could not really. We’re hoping to be back one day. 

Although the headlands may have merged into one in our memory, one was more important than the others. The Gerpir has been the most eastern point of Iceland, and we have stayed in the bay of Sandvik in its shadow, in a very cosy emergency hut. 

The other outstanding memory would be, that we also got to use our VHF, well only me, but in a situation! We were crossing Rayðarfjord and could hear a boat from a distance. It was a rather large boat and was approaching fast. We thought is would be going straight out between the two island, one of each side of the fjord. We stopped with one of them behind us thinking that it would not go through that island. The boat was turning slightly, then it was aiming right at us approaching, as they do, quite fast. Feeling like the rabbit in front of headlights I reached for my radio hoping that it is working. Fortunately they heard us, said they could see us, and are only turning to go between the island and mainland. We calmed, and resumed our paddling further south. 

Paddling close to road has its benefits, as we landed close to a lighthouse on the east side of Lónsvík next to the Hvalnes lighthouse. Its proximity makes it probably one of the most visited here in Iceland by most of those circumnavigating via the Highway no. 1. 

For us it meant that since it was blowing strongly against us today, we could hitch hike to Höfn to go shopping, to the pool, and for electricity and coffee. As now, we have to be more strategic in our paddling in order to make it along the south coast safely. 

Norðausterland

It will be almost a week since we could finally leave Þorthöfn and start our journey along the Langanes peninsula. These past few days could be called the Five lighthouses challenge. The first one we had to negotiate was Fontur, situated at the tip of Langanes, some forty kilometres away. With not many places to land until the Skalar on the other side, we were facing a sixty five kilometres paddle. Most of it went as uneventful as it could be. The west side of the peninsula is one long shingle wall with occasional bouldery beach, which attracts big swell. The land did not look very inspiring to us, yet it used to be quite well populated with farms. We decided to deal with it as best as we could and crossed most of the bays until we reached Storkarl.
Here, the cliffs start and this place is one of the most significant nesting places for gannets in Iceland. We were very lucky to be able to visit this place some days earlier on our lang hitch hike sightseeing trip. I was ready to have photos taken by tourist on the viewing platform. Sadly there were none and us instead of posing we had to engage in bullet dodging. Gannets take no mercy. 

Fontur lighthouse is known to oversee a race called Langanesröst (overfalls). Yet again, we did not have much information apart from advice of taking it closer to the shore.

We approached the tip quite fast helped by tide and soon we could see a line of breaking waves on the outside and big wonderful green and white breaking waves on the inside at the foot of the cliff. Her we go, we thought, what will be going on, now. We approached with caution and tried to spot the best line through. Luckily there was no wind and so we could stay between the two places. The swell going over the race with clappoties generated by the cliffs made the sea to elevate us up rock us from side to side, drop us a little bit only to raise us higher and make us to descent right at the foot of the next hill. The light and foam created interesting patterns, but sadly, this was no place to faff with cameras. 

It took about twenty minutes to get through into the calmer waters round the corner. I could stop holding my breath, and try to prevent my muscles to turn into jelly, the tide was slightly against us now, and the last thing we wanted was to do it again.

We arrived to Skalar, a former fishing village, at midnight, exactly twelve hours after departure. The orange space ship like shaped emergency hut was a welcomed sight standing among the many ruins of this once very busy place. 

The next day, at six in the afternoon we left Skalar to pass on the next lighthouse, the Svartnes, on the east side of Bakkafloi and to continue towards Gullborg on the east of Vopnafjordur. As the evening approached everything went quiet, and soon we could hear something breathing and thumping, yet, we could not see anything. Sun hiding behind the wall of clouds over the peninsula behind us was heightening our senses more and more. Then, finally in among the waves we could see them, the dolphins a big pot of them. Soon they were everywhere around us, circling, changing directions, disappearing into distance, coming back again. Later they decided to show off some more, and started to jump up high for us to see them even better. The only hiccup was, they never stayed out of water long enough to get the best shot of them. Never mind. 

As we reached the beginning of Vopnafjordur my back made it clear to me that rather than crossing for another five hours, it’s time to land. Unfortunately the long wall of cliffs meant that could paddle almost the same distance looking for safe place to land as across, with only a chance to find something earlier. The pain won this time, and we decided that even if we land an hour earlier than if having crossed, it was worth the try. The first bay we found was opened to swell, and what looked like possibility of landing, quickly turned into fast paddle out to sea beyond the big breakers. However, here exactly in the moment of high alert and emotions, a whale appeared. It’s amazing that a situation, which until then, has been on a borderline of disaster with high effects on our well being, was suddenly turned. We have seen a whale!

We also found a place to land in a small break in the lower cliffs, sheltered from swell, and went to sleep at four in the morning.

The following afternoon we launched to reach the Gullborg lighthouse on Bjarnarey island between Vopnafjordur and Heradsfloi. We arrived at nine in the evening, the sun just lit the orange walls of the lighthouse for us. The sky was full of birds, the sea full of jumping fish. Then, we spotted it again, the whale. Gently sashaying through the water. We spent two hours in the sound watching the birds and the whale. It did not disappoint us and jumped higher twice to show of its huge white mouth. 

Then we had Herads’ bay to cross, six hours with fog on the land. It could get as inspiring as it sounds. The only distraction was provided by different waves patterns and water colour as we crossed over individual river flows from the giant glacier river Jokulsa á Brú. The next camp we found was just beyond the next lighthouse, Brimnes. 

This time we changed our routine and habit, instead of leaving at six in the afternoon having slept and a bit of rest, we left at four. Right after getting up and eating. We’re planning for a shorter leg with finish in six hours and maybe even sleeping during the night rather than in the morning. The headwind, that wasn’t meant to be that day, was there, ten minutes into paddling, and happily kept us company for the next six hours. We pushed until Glettingsnes lighthouse, which was still some ten kilometres before our intended destination. We decided to stop, to have a little rest in its shelter. The wind was buzzing in the tower as we ate, cold and tired, some snack among the dead flies on the floor. Then just as we contemplated whether we have enough energy and willpower to push or whether we will pitch a tent, the noise stopped. 

There was no wind as we emerged out of the building, the wind must have lost us. And so we decided to continue. At least to the next bay, which has an emergency shelter.

The fog descended as we rounded the lighthouse. What now? Well, it wasn’t windy, so we decided to practice some none visibility paddling. We knew that there are two places to land within the next ten kilometres, so were ok to take the risk. It was fine. We passed the first bay with the now non visible shelter, we approached the second bay, our original destination. We could now see the cliff, but not inside the bay, so we decided to carry on a little bit. Now we were out of the map, still in fog. 

The responsibility took over us, and we landed at the first possible place on the next headland. Beautiful place. We got the new map out of the hatch. Yes, we had a discussion in the morning whether to keep it handy and ready or not. We decided not to as we really only wanted to paddle to the previous bay of Húsavik, we wanted to finish by ten in the evening and have a night sleep.

The sea was calm, there was no wind, we had a map, the forecast for the next day was headwind. The fog was getting thinner, we could see outline of the next headland across Seyðisfjordur bay, it was only fourteen kilometres away. The decision of doing it now, in the calm or next day in the forecasted headwind was an easy one to make. With our speed we should be there by four in the morning. 

Fortunately east coast seems to have more significant tides than the north and so in two hours, we added another lighthouse, the Dalatangi, to our Five Lighthouse challenge, making it the sixth one. But when we came closer, there were two of them, a smaller white old one and a huge newer orange one. We, of course, have photos of none.

Turning Point 

We arrived Þorthöfn early on Tuesday morning after another night crossing. We knew that some bad weather would be on its way and that we would need to spend here few days and nights before reaching the top of Langnes a real turning point in our journey. 
Þorthöfn lies on the edge of Þistillfjordur. Once busy town than to herring trade, is now a very small town, however, for us it had all we need: supermarket, Vinbudin, two cafes and swimming pool. Every day we have walked the five hundreds metres along the road from where our tent is to the edge of the town. And while doing so we observe an interesting phenomenon.

People in this town like to drive their cars. They like to drive them but not really leave their town. At some point we started to play a game. We would spot a car and then guess if it had a “potential”, then we would stop and watch. And of course celebrate, if we got it right. 

Such car would drive slowly through the village until the edge, then it would turn, and drive back. Amazing. 
 
The game could be taken further, because we could also guess if the car would also do a round around local campsite, or how many times it would go there and back. Some cars would do up to three lapses at any one time. 
Þorthöfn gives vibes as being a fairly sleepy town, we were the only ones in the cafe, the only ones in the pool, and also few times the only ones in the shop, and we went every day. However cars playing the turning point game could create a traffic jam, especially if at least three were in the same mission. 

We are ready to leave tomorrow, the weather is calming enough to give us opportunity to attempt the rounding of the top of this peninsula. I think we will miss Þorthöfn. 

Midnight Sun 

We reached Tjornes Peninsula after crossing from Flatey island in early afternoon. The plan was to have an afternoon nap before another night paddle. The wind should be calmer and for once turning from headwind into helping wind. The first part of the plan went well, we landed, put the tent up, slept, woke up, cooked and ate. It was ten o’clock in the evening, but somehow I wasn’t up to it. My normally bad back was hurting, it has been really hurting for the last few days and badly during crossings, so somehow I could not imagine getting back in the boat and try to survive six to eight hours of pain. The discussion was difficult, but in the end Michal slammed the door and flicked the switch, if you can imagine that in the tent, and saying that if we weren’t paddling we may as well continue to sleep, went to bed. 

My, have we slept well that night, and without alarm set for the following morning! 

Next day the weather forecast suggested that we can indeed paddle during the night, only without the help, that was fine for us, departure time was set for five o’clock. 

This time we were aiming across Oxarfjordur towards Melrakkasletta, and preferably past the lighthouse at north west corner. It was a good decision not to do it the previous night and wait. Mentally we were better prepared for the hours and hard work. North east corner of Tjornes showed off by cliffs, caves and arches and we spent a little bit of time of playing there. 

The crossing started at seven. Hopefully by one in the morning we will be landing on the other side. The evening and night were beautiful, we got a good glimpse of the Icelandic summer, that everyone here is talking about. Yes, we now believe it exists, it’s not just an imagination of local people, although it may be from their dreams as it only happens in the night. 
We paddled through something resembling a painting, the sea was showing off in patterns similar to amethysts, the land was a collage colours, the sky dramatic. The sun was performing for us the whole night, changing the tint from purple to blue, to making everything yellow and grey, as well as orange and pink. 

We landed on time and after short break continued as the weather will be different in the morning and preferably we will get around the north west corner as soon as possible. At three in the morning we were rounding the Raudinúpur cape, a volcano dating back to ice age. We had to put our sunglasses on to be able to see in the rising sun. 

The rest of the land wasn’t as inspiring as it is made of steep shingle bank going on for miles and miles. Fortunately, we found a small inlet to land and have a short sleep. 

As I said, sunny times are saved for night time, we got up in rain and fog, accompanied by already strong north westerly wind. I am glad we pushed on last night and made it so far, as the sea wasn’t the easiest to paddle, shallow shore meant we had to come quite far out at times. I am sure that at some point we reached the polar circle mark, which is only a mile off the most northerly point of the peninsula, the Hraunhafnartangi point. 

Twenty four hours and 52NM since departing from Tjornes we reached the town of Raufarhofn. The most northerly settlement on Icelandic mainland, with a modern monument of Arctic Henge.

Fjords, headlands, and one island

At the start I need to establish this, we are paddling against headwind. We have been paddling against headwind for the last twenty six days. Each day the headwind was of at least of force 4/5 and then 6,7,8 and more, for whole or part of the day. We have paddled against it up to the force 6, force 7 has reversing power on us. Only two days out of the twenty six we had tail wind of variable force 4-6, which gave us some push, but raised the sea to exciting levels. Now, that I got this of my chest, I can proceed with the writing. The fact that we are battling against the wind has its effect on when we paddle, and how far, but is also slowly taking its toll on our physical strength. 

The last few days we were fighting our way around a rather large headland west of Eyjafjordur. We started this leg in Lónkot with a fairly short leg during the day. Then we decided to have a rest and to continue overnight. We left Olnbogi (Miklavatn) at half past midnight. 

Having the light here 24/7 is great, as one would not really know if it is day or night anyway. The beginning of the paddle was very serene. All was calm, the sea, the air, no one was around, no cars on the road above us, birds were sleeping. We could not hear a sound, not even of the sea crushing on the cliffs, or hum of waterfalls, and no wind yet to whistle past our ears. The smaller fjords, which we could see were a mixture of green, brown, and black and white colours covered by purple tint. This lasted until we approached the west side of Eyjafjordur. A cruise ship appeared in the distance and disappeared into the fjord towards Akureyri long before we came to the corner. Only later could we hear the distant sound of first fishing boat. And slowly the calmness was replaced with the usual cacophony of sounds lead by the wind.   

Soon the Gjogurta lighthouse came into view and we felt that we were almost there. The first bay wasn’t very friendly for landing kayaks, so we had to add another seven kilometres into the Thorgeirfjordur. What was an agony first, became worth it in the end. 

Thorgeirfjodur had a emergency shelter, which has been restored into more plush accommodation resembling a summer house. We arrived at 10.30 in the morning and went straight to have a nap before making decision what next. To do that we had to climb to the top of the hill to catch enough reception. The views were great. Thogeirfjordur is rather large bay, with a long valley along a river, surrounded by showy peeks. We could see many remains of former houses, a settlement has been here since early times until 1944. It had a church with a small graveyard. In 1944 the last three families left, two of which went to Flatey island. 

Flatey island was where we were heading to next. The forecast indicated that there was no rush the next day, as we would only be able to paddle the short distance to the island. We could see it already the previous day. A strip of land, 2,5km long with houses. 

They all seemed strangely empty as we arrived. Once permanently occupied, they are summer houses now. Flatey has a church, lighthouse, community hall and two clean flushing toilets with toilet paper. Something that we consider a luxury at the moment. What it doesn’t have is running water for random visitors. We walked around the whole island, past every house until we found one with people in. Lucky for us, as we need some more water to what we have. The couple was lovely, and true to Icelandic hospitality invited us for coffee and shared the history of the island with us. 

The next morning, quite early, we left to cross the Skjalfandi towards Tjornes. The crossing was foggy and wet. Husavik, which is situated at the south east side of the bay is famous for whale watching, sadly, we saw none. I know, we would have more chances if we were inside, but we would like to continue later on and really, with the constant headwind, we are trying to minimise the distance, we have to make. 

Skagafjordur

We have no pictures from the start of this paddle as there wasn’t much to see in the morning fog and drizzle. Our journey started at the Skagata lighthouse, which resembles a tower and is orange, as many of Icelandic lighthouses are.  Our plan was to cross to the other side of the Skagafjordur. With the north easterly wind, we had to start crossing as far north to allow us to aim slightly more south to cheat the headwind into quarterly wind. We left the Skagi shore quite swiftly, and followed the compass bearing into the grey. 

After some time the outline of Drangey island could be seen. As it slowly made its way out of the fog and mist it became an impressive structure, which looked like a big castle. According to legend a couple of night trolls were once travelling across the fjord. They had their cow with them. When the sun came out the trolls were turned into the rocks. Nowadays only the woman troll can be seen as a stack, standing next to the island – the cow, the man long gone.

The sea was enjoying the wind and the waves were gaily rolling to us, there and now splashing into our faces. We carried on, and at some point the distant outline took a shape of the next island, the Málmey. 

The island is bordered by cliffs, being 156 metres above the sea level at its highest point. It’s flat at the top, and green with pastures. It was inhabited in the past, the last people left in 1950 after their farm burned down. It wasn’t clear how they landed there, but there must be a landing place at the south point of the island hidden from our view. Another local legend says that this island is cursed and no one can live there for longer than twenty years. Another interesting fact is that mice apparently cannot survive there at all. 

Once we passed this island, we still had some time to reach our destination. We chose a random place in the bay. We landed and pulled the boats up the steep bouldery bank. We were close to a cluster of houses and something that indicated a golf course. 
We later learnt that it is a former golf course, still a campsite, and that they have a hot tub open twenty four seven. And so, for now, we were home. 

Skagi

Today can be summarised in very few words, but I will start at the beginning first. Yesterday morning we left very beautiful and very freezing Reykjanes and crossed forty kilometres over to the Skagi peninsula.

 We were greeted by a wall of shingles and warmth. We liked both, and decided to pitch our tent right above the sea on the shingles and bask in the evening sun. We landed quite close to a farm and every animal came to check us out, the horses, the sheep and cows. We decided to go to the farm house as we had no water and didn’t fancy the one flowing across such busy fields. At the farm we were greeted by even warmer arms of the farm lady and were invited to have coffee, and then given bread, butter and smoked fish. This was wonderful as we are running slightly low on some food. 

The night on the shingles was comfortable and we treated ourselves to a slightly lazy start. There’s nowhere to rush, we could see the wind already waiting for us. Today will be hard work, whatever distance we choose to do. It went like this: the wind was a strong F5 headwind, and one had to use the whole body to make any progress forward. However every so often, it went a little still, as if the wind was taking its breath. That was our chance to gain some metres, and then brace ourselves for the gust, here the paddling just managed to maintain our position and not to reverse. 

We have been doing this for five hours paddling around the top of Skegi. The low green land here was a stark contrast to the high cliffs from previous days. It was enjoyable to paddle close to land and there and now see the amazing formations of the basalt columns. 

The last, sixth hour, was different. We rounded a headland and were crossing a bay, the wind was now from side, so the routine changed, the waves took over. They were rocking us up and down, and only there and now one decided to break over a boat, not threatening, but enough to send the cold sea splashing all over us. 

THE MIND GAMES

When we arrived to Sudureyri seventeen days ago we knew we would not be paddling for next day or two. That’s was fine as we have paddled for few days and felt that we were making good progress so far. We were looking forward to the stop as we had to do some shopping before our next leg, the Hornstandir. The first day of rest was fine, the second was ok, then as the forecast wasn’t getting any better came the time to become more creative with planning and paddling and we started to look for smaller weather windows at any time, day or night.
Sometimes those windows turned out to be much shorter than forecasted or not as calm as promised, in the end forecast is just a forecast and local conditions can alter it significantly. The start of the crossing to Adalvik was rough but doable. We had options to continue or turn into the safety of Isafjord. Both options were against the wind. We had quite a long discussion at the corner to agree that it was a good idea to continue, and that we were both happy to commit to the hard crossing. 

Then we became wind bound in Latravik for five days. Surprisingly the first few days were relaxing. The weather forecast was way of beyond paddling so there was no need thinking if we should be or should not be paddling. Finally, after the five long days, already eight since we left Sudureyri, we could see a window coming which might give us chance of passing Straumness. We decided to take on the challenge. 

We hard earned the progress, yet looking back it is interesting to see how decision “should we or shouldn’t” is made. Is having a “chance” to pass certain point and make desired progress good enough to go? Especially with the knowledge that it either has to be made all the way as there may not be a chance to turn back, and definitely no way of stepping out of it? The decision making this time was definitely influenced by the time sitting on land waiting. 

In contrary if long mileage is done and good progress achieved it is almost natural to look on same conditions and decide to stay on land instead of taking chances. We learnt that big part of this decision making progress depends on feelings of being strong or tired, both mentally and physically. Like the morning in Bjarnarfjordur. Day before we achieved a long day of 70kilometres and left the Hornstandir area, where we spent nine days. We were eager to continue. The forecast was ok-ish. We packed everything, changed to drysuits and just when we were ready to start to load the boats the wind came with strong gusts. Fresh on our memory was the knackering finish of previous day, which was giving us a feeling that this paddle would be about taking chances. So we pitched our tent again and decided to wait for better weather laying down in our sleeping bags. Listening to and watching the tent shaking with every gust we were reassured of making a good decision.  

The following day we decided to move on despite the forecast being almost identical to previous day. But looking at the sea, it looked friendlier, and we felt we could do it. And so we left and paddled in big following sea until Reykjaness. Because really, the conditions looked promising for the next day, today, to cross forty plus kilometres across Hunafloi towards Skagi area. 

Both sides of the Point of Straumness

We arrived to Latrar at 1am. Compare to what we have paddled through the bay was calm. It went darker for few moments, but already the light was coming back again. There were houses scattered on both sides of the large bay of Adalvik, we opted for the more sheltered side, called Latravík. We were told that in this part of West fjords we are unlikely to see many people, as all of the houses here are summer houses and it is still quite early. The next morning we decided to explore the place better. We walked to where the school once stood. As before, people have indeed lived here, benefitting from the sheltered bay for fishing and farming. However they have left the place in 1952 as life was really harsh. After that, the only people inhabiting this place were the Americans. 

They decided to build an Air Defence Radar station on top of the mountain Straumness in the 1953. First troops arrived in 1956 with the station starting to fulfil its function in 1958, however it lasted only for two and half years as it was too expensive to operate. 

I guess the nature was not very happy with such structure and tried to dismantle it as much as possible. The old records talk about “Old Friend Gust” throwing stuff around a lifting people of thir feet. We have climbed the mountain in order to catch some signal, and the place didn’t look very welcoming to human beings. 

Anyway, continuing with our explorational walk, we have ventured back down to the water, and there we found some human life. First it was a man painting a side of a shed. We exchanged few words, he in Icelandic, we in English before we parted our ways. Then, as soon as we left him, we came across another man standing next to his house right on the small quay. 

Here, we exchanged few more words, and we got invited to have coffee. We don’t know much Icelandic yet, but we understand the important key words. 

Inside the house were yet more people. And so we found out that these three brothers were here on holidays in what used to be their grandparents and parents’ house. 

When we established who is who, and how did we get there, we were invited to stay with them for few days. As the descendant from Old Friend Gust will be loose for few more days. 

We would like to thank to Frederic, Inky and Gunnar, who invited us in the warmth and dry of their house, and shared their meals with us. We spent the five following days playing cards, walking around in the gales, eating pancakes and waffles, potatoes and fish. I have to admit, that when we were offered the sheep’s heads, we kindly declined. We drank lots of coffee and listened to Icelandic radio. Only the weather wasn’t getting any better. We knew, as every time the weather forecast went, Frederic looked at us and started laughing. 

Then came Saturday, the day that Frederic was due to leave, and the time came for us to move out and back into the rescue hut. The boat arrived quite early in the morning and with it a lot of people and equipment, which was unloaded fairly close to our end of the beach. Someone would be repairing their summer house. The boat came once more, the bay started to fill with summer house owners for the weekend. The weather has also calmed enough, that we made a plan to leave that night. And good decision we made as later in the day, some walkers appeared, also wanting to stay in the hut. Yes, it was time to go, so as they were settling for a night sleep, we started to pack. By half past ten we were ready. As soon as we sat in the boat, I realised that my rudder wasn’t working. So we were delayed by small repair. Finally we were leaving. Earlier we went to bit our good byes to people in the house, and it was heartwarming to see Gunnar standing in the doorway, waving us off as we paddled past. Then, we were on our own, with the deserted wilderness in front of us. 
The main challenge of our paddle that day was the point of Straumnes. The most northerly point of West Fjords and place where currents meet. Earlier in the day the offshore buoy was showing 3.2 metres waves. We were hoping that that would have calmed down a bit by now, and that we could to sneak by closer to the shore. 
I won’t be going into much details of our paddle here. Let’s just say that the sea was the biggest we’ve been in so far, with fairly steep waves coming fast to us as we battled against the head wind. Because of course as soon as we left the calmness of the bay and came to the end of the headland, the wind came in full force. We paddled hard for three hours, slowly making progress. When we started paddling, we were hoping for such conditions to allow us to make reasonable progress and cover some considerable distance. Now, we were only aiming to the next closest bay, and another emergency hut, in Fljótavik. The plan changed to get rest for few hours, and try to continue later. 
We landed at 3.30am, and I decided that by 4am, I would be sleeping, by 8am getting up and 9am, we will be paddling again. We managed to keep this plan, and woke up into reasonably calm morning. The paddle out of the bay was great, we went through some rocks and woke few seals. Then the headland came, and the wind, and the wild sea. It took us ten minutes to make the decision to go back. It would only get worst as the cliffs proceed, and it is a long way to the next landing place. And so, we turned and came back to Fljótavik. The day would now be spent eating, sleeping, exploring and contemplating when would be the next best time to paddle. 
We made a cup of coffee and sat outside the hut. The doorway sheltered us from the wind, but the air outside was fresher than the stale musty one inside. After a while just as we were finishing the cup, the telly was turned on. Today’s program was to be a short sketch of the life of a hiker. Two silhouettes, which reminded us of the two walkers from yesterday, appeared. They were getting ready to cross a fairly wide river mouth across the bay from us. We made second cup of coffee to go along with the program. Fortunately, just when Michal started to think that he would have to put his drysuit back on and go and save them from the middle of the current or sea, they gave up and walked away from our sight. 
What now? 

Then in few moments, a boat appeared and quickly made its way across the bay. Talk about deserted places and no people early in the season. It moored close to our side of the bay. We made a third cup of coffee and decided to watch how they will fare the offloading and disembarking in the strong wind. It didn’t go really well, so after the first round, they decided not to use sandy end of the beach closer to houses, but off load right in front of us as it was a short and more sheltered ride in the dingy. 

And my, was there lots of stuff. As we didn’t fancy any more coffee, and this was happening on our doorstep, we decided to go and help with the offloading. Little did we know, that these guys are arriving for a month, and will be repairing stuff and laying new floor. Soon, Michal felt like at his own work and the pile of random stuff grew next to our hut. 

In the end, we were invited to stay in one of the houses by its owner, who’s mother happens to be Frederic’s cousin. In the past there were several families living here, but like elsewhere, some decided to go as life was very harsh. When only six families were left, life became unsustainable, and in the summer of 1946 the remaining six left. Today, those, whose ancestors lived here own the land, and can come and build houses. However the number of those is limited, and for this bay, it’s only nine. Tonight, in this bay there would be three guys, two dogs and us staying. 

The sleeping plan for the day was postponed, we allowed some time for the guys to settle in and repair their motors to fetch the stuff before moving in. Later, we helped to unpack and stack the new flooring for it to be ready. Now, we just have to wait for the weather to turn in our favour again. Hope it won’t be days.