• Asha

The crack was mighty!

After a flying visit to Vopnafjordur we sailed around Langanes. This peculiar narrow peninsula which juts out 25 miles into the ocean is infamous for fog, overfalls, strong tides and needs to be rounded with care, or on the kind of beautiful, calm day and slack tide that we experienced. Our next stop was Raufarhöfn, which is the most northern town of Iceland. It is situated just three miles below the Arctic Circle, and is home to the Arctic Henge. This structure, the construction of which began in 1996, will amaze people of the future the same way that our contemporaries are amazed with the Stone Henge. It is yet to be finished and the locals recognise the slow speed of the ongoing endeavour with a wry smile but it already looks pretty cool with big stone arches aligning in a way that the sunlight can be observed through them at sunrise and sunset.

A couple of days later we left with the setting sun bound for Húsavík. Without wishing to take away from any other place we have visited so far, Húsavík became a highlight of our trip. We moored on a floating pontoon at 5 am and smelled freshly baked bread, which was absolutely mouth watering! Following our noses and stomachs we set out on a search through the town completely devoid of people to find the bakery from where the smell was coming! Joy, oh joy, we found it, looked through the window of the closed shop at the delicious looking display and after checking the sign on the door established that it will open at 7 am. Few more rounds around the town added to the appetite so when the bakery finally opened we let our hair down! Loaded with goodies we went back to Altor for a lovely breakfast, then had a few hours sleep to recover from the passage.

We woke up to a flurry of activities as Húsavík is a touristy hub with a thriving whale spotting fleet, which claims to have a 99% success rate of finding these marine mammals. We didn’t spot any whales while sailing in the Icelandic waters so we were a bit disappointed to be in the unlucky 1% avoided by humpbacks, minkes, blues, greys and the like. Never mind, we were going to be back on the waters and believed we couldn’t remain in that one percent for long. After all, whales likes us, they swam alongside Altor in Scotland, surely they will do that again. We wondered around the town and were amazed with the snow capped mountains that came into the view on the opposite side of the fjord after the fog cleared.

The following day was my birthday, so Mark took me shopping for a birthday present (there is nothing like being prepared, Mark) and after studying some local restaurants’ menus I picked a venue for my birthday dinner, because it is all about me!!! It was my big four-o and we had a great time. The day of my birthday, the 20th of July, we untied the lines and motored out to the bay, dropped the anchor and relaxed in the sunshine, whilst keeping eyes peeled for whales. We were told that fishing in Iceland is super easy, and that you can pretty much cast your line anywhere and catch a fish and this proved to be true! We caught a few very good sized cod, most of which we set free, apart from one that became our dinner the following day.

The sun was beaming down and the surrounding view begged for a drone flight, which would have been perfect had I not forgotten to take the fenders off! What a faux pas! That cannot be presented on the next episode of Adventure Now! We sent the drone up for a second time but after a few minutes of flight something went awry. Mark said we that we might need to launch the dinghy to retrieve the drone as the controller was giving some error signals. Luckily, the situation improved and after a few minutes we had the drone back on the boat. As I caught it mid air I noticed it was covered with dust and upon a closer examination we saw that it was scratched all over and one of the propellers was cracked. What on earth just happened…. We downloaded the video and it was clear from the footage that the drone had crashed but somehow regained composure and Mark was able to fly it back to the boat! We examined the flight footage and it became clear that whilst reversing the drone hit a cliff, tumbled a long way but somehow, quite miraculously, recovered itself. It does now need a visit to the repair shop but real victory was not losing it entirely!

At this stage we were still in the 1% except for spotting the dorsal fins of two whales at a distance but I don’t think this counts as a whale sighting. What I was really hoping for was to see humpback breach right next to Altor but this wasn’t to be. After a beautiful birthday at anchor in the hot Icelandic sun we headed back to the port and went out for dinner. For the first time in my life I tried cat fish, which was really tasty, and the side dishes that went with it were well thought out and the flavours divine. Although I wouldn’t normally order dessert I did this time and I was so pleased. Both Mark’s and my desserts were so good, and no, I didn’t eat Mark’s, I just sampled it.

The following day we hired a car and thanks to someone we were in contact with on Instagram we had a tip for a real treat of a destination. We entered the coordinates into the sat nav and after an hour drive arrived in a middle of a lava field. We set off across country with another set of coordinates and after wandering around, going back and forth, praying, and re-reading the instructions that came with the coordinates, we found it! A crack in the lava field! We found the entrance and assessed the climb down into the crack. After declaring that this is everything that our mothers told us not to do, we descended into the opening in the rocky field. It wasn’t as difficult as it looked and soon we were standing on a wooden deck spanning both sides of the crack. Underneath was clear blue water, which looked absolutely beautiful and inviting. What a place!!! The water was so warm, so perfect!

Seriously, I could have stayed there all day, but we had other places to see, however we returned to the crack the following day and the day after that! What is really cool, on the last day Mark discovered that the crack didn’t end where it looked like it did. There was a passage over a massive boulder leading to another part that was much longer than the initial one. The walls were completely vertical and there weren’t any places to rest along the crack as we swam, but it was possible to suspend yourself between the walls in a Spiderman-like style. It was a totally exhilarating experience. Submerged in the very warm water we looked up and could see a narrow ribbon of day light. The silence was sacred, undisturbed and pure. I felt the divine power of this place and utmost gratitude for the person who gave us the instructions of how to get there. Thank you so very much!

Although we visited two massive and powerful waterfalls, sailed into the Arctic Circle, saw the most beautiful scenery around the north-eastern parts of Iceland, all I can think about is the crack! How does it get any better than that?? I can’t help it… I will return!

The Arctic Henge, Raufarhöfn, Iceland. This modern monument to pagan belief looks like it was transported straight from ancient times.

Located in Iceland's most northern village, the Arctic Henge is a piece of stone construction that, when finished, aims to surpass Stonehenge.

Started in 1996, the Arctic Henge project is a monument not only to the country’s nordic roots, but also to some of the neo-pagan beliefs that have arisen in certain areas. The piece was inspired directly from the eddic poem Völuspá (Prophecy of the Seeress), taking from it the concept of 72 dwarves who represent the seasons in the world of the poem, among other symbolic queues. In the Arctic Henge, 72 small blocks, each inscribed with a specific dwarven name will eventually circle four larger stone monuments, which in turn will surround a central balanced column of massive basalt blocks. Each aspect of the deliberate layout corresponds to some aspect of ancient Norse belief and when each piece of the monument is installed, visitors will be able to “capture the midnight sun” by viewing it through the various formations at different vantage points depending on the season.

At current, only the imposing central tri-column and one of the four larger gates have been constructed, along with a smattering of the smaller stones, but it is still a work in progress. When it is complete, the Arctic Henge could easily become the premiere site for Paganism in the entire world and millennia from now it might seem as mysterious as Stonehenge seems to us today.

This is the mighty crack!

Rain drops on a leaf - so serene and beautiful.

Lighthouse in Vopnafjordur.

Vopnafjordur, Iceland.

View from a window of an abandon house near the lighthouse in Vopnafjordur, Iceland.

The lighthouse in Vopnafjordur, Iceland.

Vopnafjordur, Iceland

Langanes (Icelandic pronunciation: ​[ˈlauŋkaˌnɛːs]) is a peninsula in northeast Iceland. The name literally means "long peninsula". It is 40 kilometres (25 mi) long from southwest to northeast, ending in a thin strip of land called Fontur [ˈfɔn̥tʏr̥] (regionally also [ˈfɔntʰʏr̥]). It is bounded by Þistilfjörður to the northwest and Bakkaflói to the southeast, while the ter