Today we crossed that part of the North Atlantic located under Iceland. Although the ship was pitching while going against the North Atlantic swell, the weather forecast for the rest was supposed to have been reasonably decent. Light winds and overcast skies. To my utter amazement I saw during the day the wind freshening up to North East 7 on occasion which is near gale. As it was from the North East it was a following wind and that meant that it did nor really affect the ship. However it made me go back to all my weather sites on the internet to figure out where all this wind was coming from. If it would continue into tomorrow morning than it might affect our call at Reykjavik as going into port with wind force 7 is not a bright idea. However the North Atlantic weather forecast did not show much of the wind that I was seeing outside. So it had to be very local and that meant that it would disappear during the night as only a larger system can sustain this sort of wind for a prolonged period.
By noon time we were starting to pass under the Icelandic coast and leaving the deep water part of the North Atlantic behind us. The Faroer islands and Iceland are nothing else than giant mountain tops sticking above water and part of a mountain range called the Iceland-Faroer ridge. Most of that ridge lays about 200 to 400 meters under water but when you sail on a course line that leads south of Iceland, you move away from that ridge and you sail over a “valley” 3000 meters below you. That valley is called the Iceland basin and we left that around noon time when we neared Iceland and came to this Ridge again. From then on the water was only 50 to 100 meters deep. South of Iceland are various little islands protruding from the main shore line and extensive shallow areas. I had hoped for clear skies so I would be able to creep a little bit closer and show the guests the Volcano that caused so much flight disruption back in April. But I need good visibility for that as I could not get too close to the shore and the Volcano is located a fair bit inland. Also it is not very active at the moment so it cannot be seen from a very large distance away. However the whole coast of Iceland was covered in dark rain clouds, so no luck. A sail by of the Eyafjallajkull (Island Mountain Glacier in English) will have to wait until next time.
There is very little traffic around Iceland as it is out of the way of the main trade routes but still the island has a Vessel Traffic Separation scheme, the highway at sea system that you normally only encounter in high traffic area’s such as Dover Strait and Singapore Strait. This VTS system, albeit very small, is there for a good reason. To the south West of Iceland there is an under water ridge running away from the island, called the ReykJanes Ridge. Depths are fairly low varying between 10 to 100 meters. In the winter when the weather is very nasty here, the groundswells can be considerable and cause problems to ships when going over. To avoid large ships (read tankers) trying to pass too close to the coast, a VTS has been established for ships over 500 gross tons to stay away from the shore and pass through the deeper water area. Even there it is not very deep and with our little bit of windy weather and low ocean swell, I could feel the ships movement changing when we passed over the ridge in the late evening. However by that time I had the ship on such a gentle speed that it was not an issue for the comfort onboard. If I can avoid it, I do not like to run through this area on high speed as there can be a lot of fishermen. Not only commercial ones, but also sport fishermen and they tend to forgot all about navigation as soon as they reel out. That means dodging them and that I prefer to do at slow speed. This time is was quiet, it think that the wind kept them away.
Tomorrow we will be in Reykjavik and as I expect that this local wind will have blown itself out by that time, the weather should be nearly wind still and overcast.
We will be in port with the Albatros which was in Torshavn while we were in Runavik. She followed us to Iceland and will catch up tomorrow morning. So then we will have two ex Royal Viking ships in port together as she is the ex Royal Viking Sea.