Susie Theis



Although not long in actuality, at 380 NM this was to be our longest passage thus far. When I flew over Iceland almost three months ago I remember looking down at the water and thinking 1) I am going to be cold as #?!% and 2) That's a lot of water. Those boats look really tiny. On my god, why am I doing this? 

I'd be lying if I said there weren’t moments filled with hesitation before I left home. Friends showed me videos of extreme North Atlantic swells and made jokes about the boat sinking. Really, it’s amazing at how many peoples' parting words were "Don't sink!” or “It’s been nice knowing you!”. While I laughed most of the time there was a tiny part of me that worried about the what-ifs of the whole thing. 

But then I got on the boat and have been amazed at how easy a transition it was. Never once, even during the roughest parts of our journey, have I felt scared. Skiing may be my first love but sailing is a close second and the amazing combination of sailing through mountainous vistas is unbeatable. 

The morning we left Klaksvík we cast off at 5:30 am in order to make the tides. There was a foggy haze over the mountains and it felt like we were the only ones awake. We sat in the cockpit with our coffee and last Danish pastries. We never determined whether or not the Danes actually claimed the whole “Danish pastries” thing but we became quite fond of the chocolate and custard pastries the bakeries served uniformly. Hence, donut day, which normally falls on Sundays for the Morgans, gradually grew to an every day occurrence. As we motored through the fjords that morning we marveled at the landscapes and questioned how certain villages were built in the seemingly impossible valleys. This mostly consisted of Lou breaking into his version of a Faroese shepherd accent and impersonating the locals while we fell into fits of laughter. Maybe it's something you had to be there for...

We had extremely calm seas from Klaksvík to Iceland. So much so that a large portion of the passage was spent motoring. The ocean swells were long, calm waves that gently pushed Arctic Monkey along. I had to keep reminding myself that we were in the middle of the ocean since the clouds gave the illusion that land was just on the horizon. 

We made a quick two night stop in Vestmannaeyjar, which is part of a group of islands just off the southern part of Iceland. There we also got to see Surtsey, the newest island in the world, which sprung up after an underwater volcano erupted in 1963. In just 48 hours we explored the town, hiked a nearby volcano and ate what I will say was the best meal of my life. On our second night, Lou took the crew out for dinner which consisted of a five course meal that encompassed many local Icelandic foods. The chef came out with each course and gave insight into the dishes. Local foods like lamb, cod and rhubarb provided a delicious insight into the Icelandic palate.  

From there it was about 100 NM to our next stop. The day we reached Reykjavik I woke up to an almost glassy sea. "Not a breath of air," said Lou. A few little ripples drifted over the almost nonexistent swells. We drank our coffee enjoyed multiple whale sightings in the morning calm. 

On board we have a solar panel, wind generator and hydro generator but unless we're going over six knots and its sunny or windy, those don't do us much good. When we are motoring, we are able to charge our electronics by turning on the inverter and it’s during those times that I try to work on editing photos or video. On the passage to Iceland I went to go turn on my computer only to realize it had died. Trying to keep calm I told myself it was probably a fluke and I'd pay a visit to the Apple store in Reykjavik. Unfortunately, when I got there I received the bad news: my computer was unfixable. I needed to purchase a new one if I wanted to be able to work on content for the rest of the trip.

In my overtired state the news was almost too much to handle and I am embarrassed to say I barely concealed my tears. Ok, I won’t sugar coat it—I bawled my eyes out in the Icelandic Apple store as the sweet, little and possibly scared sales associate showed me the macbook pro options. Feeling defeated I walked back into town to grab an overpriced coffee at one of the many trendy cafes that line the streets of Reykjavik. As a creature of habit I returned to The Laundromat, a funky travelers’ oasis that cleverly placed coin operated machines in their basement. The place was always jammed with backpackers doing laundry, retracing map routes, comparing notes and preparing for impending adventures. As I tried to compose myself I went to the bathroom to dry my tears when a girl next to me asked if I was ok. At which point I burst into tears again (because I hadn’t embarrassed myself enough at the Apple store apparently) and through my sobs explained my situation. She looked at me and asked "Do you want a hug?" and from there our friendship blossomed. It turned out that Leonie and her friend Ralph had just begun a round the world trip themselves. We ended up going out for drinks later that night and got a taste of the citie's night life.

The six days in Reykjavik consisted mostly of logistical tasks and some sight seeing. While the adults are usually enamored with the landscapes the girls are intent on completing what we’ve started to call the “World Swimming Pool tour”. Since the Icelandic are bananas for their swimming pools the girls were in luck and we were able to add an impressive three new pools to our list. This included the crème de la crème: The Blue Lagoon.

In the end, my takeaways from the Iceland stop would be that buying a new computer in a foreign country isn’t the end of the world. After all, who doesn’t want an Icelandic keyboard? It’s gotta be worth street cred to someone somewhere, right? Crying in public restrooms may lead to unlikely friendships. And lastly, those Icelanders must die of laughter watching all the tourists put white clay all over their faces in a man made hot spring that costs fifty bucks to swim in! Sure is fun though.

Susan TheisComment