As we sit in a café in Iceland and watch the cold breeze blow drifts of sleet across the empty street we have to consider the onward journey. According to our existing plan we are faced with a three week voyage across the north Atlantic to the rugged shores of Newfoundland. As we consider the prospect of a long cold slog into the autumn gales we have an even more alarming vision than the squalls of occasional snow outside – on the computer before us is a live weather forecast displaying a continuous series of low pressure systems marching across our intended route attended by a rather colourful array of barbed arrows indicating gale force winds and wicked weather.
Intrepid adventurers we may be, yet the prospect of weeks at sea being cast about like froth on the raging ocean is enough for us to consider alternatives. The past two months of Arctic adventure has seen us face all arrays of weather but winter is definitely nipping at our heels and even once we brave the long hard slog across the Atlantic we are faced with an even longer race down the east coast of America as we try and keep ahead of the coldest and most miserable weather marking the vanguard of the approaching winter.
The alternative? A short two day sail from the east coast of Iceland with the wind at our backs would take us to the craggy coast of the Faroe Islands. Taking this route we could visit the north coast of Scotland, subsequently sail towards the green hills of Ireland, the Cornish coast of England and then across the Bay of Biscay to Portugal. From here we can take the well-trodden path to the Caribbean first advocated by Columbus when he sailed into the unknown. While still racing against the winter, the major advantages of this change in route would be that the winds would be with us, the sea-legs would be shorter, and importantly for us, it would give us a little more time to explore the destinations on our way.
The final decision is still before us as we are presently locked into a nice sheltered harbour as a depression blows out its forty knot fury off the coast. However, tomorrow we will either turn south to make for Reykjavik with the intention of talking the long hard slog west; or we will turn to the east and make for the more sheltered solution. Both routes offer advantages and disadvantages and we are still torn … some serious consideration over a warm mug of mulled wine is in order I think!