Tuesday, August 4, 2009

But not so far...

On Sunday, August 2, I left my new home in Nekaupstaður and paddled to Breiðdalsvik, a town of about 200 people, where 2 paddlers (Ingolfur and Helga)from the eastern kayaking club, Kajakklubburinn Kaj (based in Nekaupstaður) live. I started out in the rain and fog, but it felt good to be paddling again. The sun made a brief appearance and at least cleared some of the fog by the time I was saying goodbye to Reyðarfjörður so that I could at least see some of the scenery. The East Fjords have a similar feel to the West Fjords (from the sea... once on land, they feel very different), but seem to me to have more rock outcrops. (Or... What are outcrops called when surrounded by water instead of land...?)
On and off I had wind and waves at my back, allowing me to surf some fairly big surf and making the paddle significantly easier. Ari (and Kajakklubburinn Kaj) loaned me SPOT to track my progress and Ingolfur and Oskar (of boat repair fame) paddled out to meet me. The waves were such that we were invisble to each other and we passed each other unknowingly. When I landed, though, Helga and Malla (Oskar´s wife) were there to meet me and helped me carry the boat up and gave me a place to change into warm dry clothes away from the returning rain. Then they took me home and provided me with a hot shower, bountiful food (including a piece of chocolate cake before a dinner of delicious lamb chops, potatoes, and salad), and a bed to sleep.

A look at the weather outlook that night and continually the next morning created a bit of stress for me. Monday´s weather looked good for paddling at least a short distance (to Djupivogur), but then the wind was scheduled to pick up significantly on Tuesday and it looked like paddling would not be wise again until Saturday at the earliest. The distance I would most comfortably paddle on Monday would put me around Hvalnes (a point before Lonsvik), but at the time I would arrive in the area, I would have a 8-15m/sec wind against me and more importantly, I was told that in those particular conditions, landing could get quite tricky and it would be a very undesirable place to wait out wind for 4-5 days. I thought about doing a super long paddle to a better landing spot around Brunnhorn/Nestrahorn/Kambhorn. That way I would cover more mileage, reach a safer landing spot, and have the option of being closer to inland destinations (like Skaftafell) to which I could possibly visit during the days of wind and rain. Problems would be an extremely long paddle with few bailout options, still paddling through that 8-15m/sec wind against me that is known to create some big waves in that area, and arrival to my destination in the dark. Decisions, decisions... another week off the water, the need to make distance, and an ever running clock drawing me closer to my scheduled departure from Iceland on August 27... I finally decided the short distance to Djupivogur would not be all that helpful and Ingolfur and Helga graciously offered their guesthouse to me and the option to stay in Breiðdalsvik, so I accepted.

It is now Wednesday afternoon and it looks like I can paddle again tomorrow. (Constantly changing Iceland weather! Sometimes it is a good thing.)

My time in Breiðdalsvik has included more waterfalls, a visit to an impressive rock museum (thousands of Icelandic rocks collected by the aptly named Petra, a remarkable woman who opened her home and collection to the public) in Stodvarfjöjorður, the next fjord to the north, watching Ingolfur as a mechanic and Helga as a machinist (kickass!) in their massive shared workshop, more good food, some catch up on sleep, and more wonderful, enthusiastic company with more insights into Icelandic culture and living.

It looks like I will have at least a few good days of paddling with little to no wind. Let´s hope this proves true and continues far into next week and my time on the legendary south coast...

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