Monday, July 18, 2011

Faroer Islands

We studies the charts and did lots of calculations before making the trip to the Faroe Islands.  The Faroe Islands are an archipelago between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic approximately halfway between Norway and Iceland, north-northwest of mainland Scotland. The islands are an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark.  These islands are also known for having some of the most complex current and tidal flows around and between the islands and good preparation is mandatory to navigate safely, comfortable and with some speed. 

We had a beautiful trip through the  Westfjord and around to the capital Torshavn, mostly with the current with us varying from 3-5 knots.  Huge cliffs loom above us as we navigate through the fjord, each one populated with little white flecks that a peek through the binoculars reveal to be sheep.  Apparently the local farmers scale the cliffs every spring to carry the sheep up to these grazing grounds. 

Close to Torshavn, we ready the boat to take the sail down in very calm waters.  We experience the tidal effects in the extreme when suddenly the water became choppy due to a tide rip and Seb lost his balance and fell backwards over the safety railing…overboard!  Fortunately he was wearing his lifevest and a lifeline otherwise he would have toppled overboard and in the choppy, freezing cold waters it would have been very difficult to pull him back on board.  It was a shock that reminded us of the importance of sticking to the rules (always wear a lifevest and lifeline if you go on deck) even in seemingly benign conditions. 

Once again, in Torshavn we were met by the unique kind of friendliness that only an island can offer. The local captain asked us to join him on his next cruise to help him man the boat for a group of tourists.  One of the Sea Shepard boats was motoring around the harbor.  When asked by one of the tourists what it was doing the captain replied “They are trying to stop us from killing the whales” She replied, “Oh, I thought they were taking care of the sheep.”  We chuckled. 

We rented a car in Torshavn and spent a few wonderful days cruising along the rocky coasts, taking long rambling walks and marveling at people mowing their rooves.  It is very popular to have a grass roof in the Faroer and these do need to be maintained. 

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