Steaming water: bubbling through volcanic vents and vanquished valves.

After the past months of nearly non-stop sailing we have had the unexpected pleasure of nearly a week in Siglufjördur on the North coast of Iceland. Unexpected I say, since once again we have been brought to a halt by problems of a mechanical nature.

Shortly after the last blog we unfurled the sails and spend a glorious day and a nights sailing around the rugged coastline of the North West. Sheer cliffs flank the coast in this part of Iceland and the first sunshine we had seen for some time illuminated the ochre coloured rocks before they gave way to a gentle dusting of white snow. Meanwhile the sky above was vivid blue and the sea presented a myriad of shades from deep green through to aquamarine. Days like this are a sailors dream and as luck would have it, a perfect day gently slipped into a perfect night. The sun painted the horizon with reds as it dipped below calm sea and soon a startling array of stars appeared in the heavens to guide us through the dark water. As if in answer to the lights above, phosphorescent algae trailed in our wake adding flashes of green to the cold white light of the stars. And still the light show was not over – as we leaned back and trained our eyes on the constellations faint bands of green began to play across the northern horizon. Soon we were sailing under the shimmering cascades of light belonging to the Aurora Borealis.

Sound perfect? Well we thought so until our intended destination appeared ahead of us at dawn and the wind died down …. time to switch on the motor and make our way into the harbour. Alas the first few coughs of the engine ended in a splutter and a bang and henceforth the whirring of the starter motor failed to illicit any sign of life. Thus after making an average of 6 – 7 knots over the past 24 hours we entered the harbour under sail making a mere half a knot in the flagging wind and watched the docks draw near at a maddeningly slow pace. Coming into a harbour under sail is always a little tricky but eventually we gently touched the jetty of Siglufjordur and went in search of repairs.

We won’t bore you with the trials and tribulations of repairing and engine (these include nearly sinking the boat when the wrong sea-cock was turned and the boat was left to slowly fill with seawater overnight) – suffice to say that valves on a pump were blocked with water and we are now awaiting the return of the offending part.

On the positive side, we have had a few glorious (though rather wet thanks to the persistent rain) days in the North of Iceland. We have toured through the volcanic terrain of Myvaten to see bubbling cauldrons of mud, steaming fumaroles and tranquil blue lakes disturbed by jets of boiling water erupting from the earth. The locals here have made us feel incredibly welcome and have offered hospitality and sympathetic advice along with a few of the creature comforts we have been missing of late – good coffee, a book and a long soak in a geothermally heated pool go a long way to alleviate the stress of being stranded.

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