Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Since I last posted, I have passed the northern most point of mainland Iceland, 1.5 miles from the Arctic Circle, completed the north coast and am now in Iceland´s most eastern town, Neskaupstaður. So much to say... where to start...? and once again I am finding it difficult to make time to blog, not due to limited internet access for once, but due to an extremely welcoming and hospitable community with whom I am very much enjoying socializing.

I am in a bit of heaven right now. Upon my arrival on Sunday, Ari, head of the kayaking club here in the east, opened the clubhouse for me to sleep with a roof over my head and within minutes, another club member stopped by (not knowing of my arrival) and brought me to his house for a shower and abundant food (dinner with his family of 7.) Then Ari invited me on a family vacation day for a drive through the mountains and past Lögurinn, Iceland´s most wooded area, and Egilsstaðir, a major town in the crossroads of the East Fjords, to a newly built incredibly impressive dam and reservoir. It is great fun driving on these rollercoaster roads and seeing a little bit of the sights inland. It´s been unusually cold here and indeed, we encountered falling snow in the highlands.
Back in Neskaupstaður and the unending rain I seemed to have brought with me, Ari was concerned about the clubhouse (which is somewhat of a construction site at present) roof leaking and suggested I stay in their guesthouse. I said I would first check inside to see if I would in fact be rained on through the night, and within a few minutes, Ari´s parents came walking by and invited me to sleep in their home. Hence the 5 star accomodation! since Monday night - a warm bed (with a down comforter!), bathrooms with heated floors, a beautiful warm cozy home with huge windows looking out onto the fjord and a very green landscaped backyard and garden. (There seem to be a lot of trees all over Neskaupstaður - a very uncommon sight in my Icelandic travels.) I am also treated to endless delicious food (I think I´m beginning to gain back some of the weight I´ve lost), warm tea, and wonderful company. And then - further practicalities... I´ve done laundry!!! I´m wearing clean clothes and have easy access to showers, drying space for gear, and internet. I truly feel like I´m living in luxury and am incredibly greatful.

My main concern on Tuesday was the boat. I´ve tolerated slow, small leaks in the front and back hatches and the cockpit more or less since the beginning of the trip, but the last week of paddling took discomforts to another level. My day hatch started to leak and for the last 3-4 paddling days, the cockpit was collecting 3-4 inches every hour. Very good air conditioning. Not so fun in this climate.
Boat repair is not my strong point. I filled the boat with water to try and find the leaks, the main one being an obvious hole about the diameter of the wire of a standard metal hanger. The rain made any other leaks impossible for me to detect. I was a little in dismay to find that the hole was under the seat and the seat is fiberglassed into the boat. It seemed like the best repair would be from the inside, but removing and possibly replacing the seat is beyond me. I decided I would try 2-3 layers of fiberglass on the outside and lots of gelcoat to try to make it as smooth as possible.. As I was sanding, Ari came by and arranged for another club member, their main repair guy, 40-50km away, to come and take a look.
Oskar to the rescue! 4pm Tuesday afternoon, a full assessment of work on the entire boat, "you want to leave Thursday?", full of smiles, "No problem!" A brief stop at Ari´s for coffee and Oskar was off to get supplies. By 11pm we were back at Ari´s for homemade cake, Oskar having dremeled out spider cracks in the gelcoat of the deck of the boat as well as conducting a careful search (by headlamp) for other weaknesses in the boat, prepared and dried all problem areas, and filled them with P40, a compound with which I was unfamiliar. Perhaps this is a common filler in the U.S., as it if often used on cars, but it is a thick paste/gel (the consistency of skyr as Icelanders would say) with bits of fiber in it. Oskar used no fiberglass cloth on the boat. The epoxy in my repair kit would never have been sufficient alone and it would have taken 2-3 days for my layers of fiberglass and gelcoat to cure enough to be suitable to paddle. The P40 was nearly dry last night and by noon today, Oskar had sanded all spots and covered a significant portion of the boat in gelcoat. Throughout it all, Ari was helping and addressing skeg problems (removing a lodged stone that had defeated me, and realligning/supporting the skeg cable which had slightly kinked, etc.) The boat is going to be in better condition than when I left Reykjavik! I am eternally indebted.

And now of course, I don´t think I´ll be ready to leave on Thursday. Tiger will be ready! (Thank you!) But I still have small bits here and there, and lots of blog to catch up on, and I am very tired, having slept little in the past few days due to all the excitement. Thursday will be 4 weeks from my scheduled return flight to New York and there´s so much to see and do on the south coast! Time´s a tickin´... I am once again getting jazzed for the rest of the journey. The last couple weeks got much more difficult, whether it be the weather, the specific places I was traveling, the accumulation of time, or simply my own psychology. I will try to blog in sections as I know my passages tend to get wordy and very long.


  1. The great thing about traveling ,things always fall into place when really needed .

  2. To Margaret's expressions of gratitude to you wonderful Icelanders who have shown her such marvelous hospitality I add my own. Thank you for watching out for and taking care of my cousin!

    Pat Crowell
    Tualatin, Oregon