Today we called at Seydisfjordur, our first call of many in Iceland, and what a port indeed. Strandabakki was nestled between the towering mountains and the deep blue waters of the fjord, and all around the hills were covered with a carpet of green grass.
The port is situated on the east coast of Iceland and although a small harbour, is the principle ferry port, for the ferry running to the Faroes, Denmak and Iceland, a vital link, with the ferry, the “Norronna”.
As we approach, right in the middle of the fjord blocking our direct approach to the berth, is the wreck of a Tanker, SS “El Grillo” which translates in Spanish to “The Cricket!. This ship was operated by the Bowering Steamship Company of Liverpool and during one night in February 1944, the ship was at Anchor in Seydisfjord. She was an armed merchant man so really fair game to attack and the German ME”00 based in Norway, did just that and badly damaged the ship. It was decided to scuttle her to avoid any further attacks so she now lies in about 30 metres of water right in the middle of the fjord. So we negotiated around and slid into the fery terminal berth on a still beautiful morning.
Nature enthusiasts were spoilt for choice with the tours going off today. There was the spectacular Hengifoss Waterfall, or traipsing the stunning countryside in the Footsteps of the Elves. There was of course the option for the more adventurous of the Skalanes Reserve; a chance to see some spectacular Flora and fauna.
For those not going on tour, the small town was only a stone’s throw away, and although there weren’t many shops, there was plenty of walking trails to burn of all the wonderful food available on board.
On departure the wind had picked up and was pressing us onto the berth. As there were no tugs available and the wind was a little stronger than our propulsion could cope with, I had to resort to good old fashion seamanship, back to basics if you will. So the intention was to “spring” the ship off the berth. This meant letting go all the ropes except the bow spring which leads aft from the bow. I then put the outboard engine ahead, and turn the rudder hard to port, and the bow sets into thequayside and the stern piviots out. Many passengers would have seen me do this on various ships.
However today, there was a problem. The ferry terminal gantry gangway was in the way and I could not put my bow to overhang the quayside, so I had to slide the ship aft until clear and then do this. So this is what we did, and then when the appropriate angle was achieved, it was let go the ropes, half astern 2 engines and drive the ship aft and steer her around to face out. This was done with great help from my Chief Officer David Shaw, Staff Captain Matt Henderson, Safety officer Igor and 2nd Officer George fore and aft. I was given all information about speed at which we were turning, distances off the wreck of the Tanker, depth of water and distances from the shore line. This is what you call bridge team management and it was great to witness, a great team effort. Then we headed out.
We had another cocktail party to start off the evening. Tonight it was the turn of our Britannia Club members to join the senior officers and staff for some canapés and champagne in the main lounge, before heading downstairs for a French themed dinner. This of course is the specialty cuisine of our Head Chef Thierry Cherronet and his homeland.
In the Britannia Lounge, passengers got a second chance to be entertained by our guest act, Dave Chance and his blend of comedy and vocals. Those who weren’t downstairs were delighted by the beautiful voice of our Explosive Productions singer Sandie Griffiths as she performed some of her favourite blues and jazz standards in the Drawing Room.
After such a jam packed day full of adventure, passengers could head to the Verandah to sample the delights of the late night buffet, or maybe pick up a Horlicks or Ovaltine as they made their way to bed. For the night owls there was of course a fun sing-a-long in Coopers, or a relaxed nightcap whilst listening to the dulcet tones of our on board duo Perfect Mood in the Drawing Room.