Day 8 |
Jun 01, 2011

Vestmanna, Faroe Islands

By Claudia Holgate, Climatologist

Co-ordinates: 62º01’N, 06º16’W
Weather: Overcast with intermittent rain
Air Temperature: 10C
Wind speed 44 km/h South Westerly
Pressure 1000 hPa

Today was our second chance for Zodiac cruising on this trip and the day seemed ideal for it. Although, when we went through the Vestmanna Sound it was raining so hard that we could barely see the magnificent 300m high cliffs, by the time we had found our anchorage off the South Western side of the Vestmanna island, the rain had subsided to a bare drizzle and there were even patches of sunshine.

So after breakfast we launched the Zodiacs and both pontoons were erected so that we could disembark guests from either side, depending on which side had some protection from the big swell that we were experiencing.

The first boat loaded and then the second was half way there when Conrad, our Expedition Leader, and the Captain decided that the conditions were too rough at the side gate and it was decided to heave anchor and reposition the ship to the northern side of the island where we would hopefully get some protection from the swell. The repositioning was about 4 miles so the guests already in the boats had quite a ride as we guided our boats over the swells and chop up to the new anchorage position. When the ship had anchored again, we were able to take the rest of the guests from the two allocated Zodiac groups, who went on a tour of cliffs, where we saw Guillemots, Puffins, Razorbills, Fulmars and Kittiwakes. It was the landscape though, that blew everyone away, these sheer cliffs, with magical waterfalls and pinnacles rising out of the water. There was even a lookout building on one of the tall rock towers where the only access could be by helicopter or a pulley system that had been rigged from the main island to this spit of rock 300m high.

The rocks had weathered in such a way that many caves had formed, some of which we were able to navigate through with the Zodiacs, which is always a highlight for the Zodiac driver and for the guests.

On the return of the first group it was once again very difficult at the side gate and it was decided to heave anchor yet again and move the ship into the bay, where the Captain could maneuver the vessel in such a way as to give a lee. Once done, the first group could disembark and the second group had their chance to go on tour.

Our second potential landing for the day was to be at Mykines, but the reports were that the weather was too bad, and as our Zodiac cruise had taken a lot longer than anticipated with all the repositionings, it was decided to start steaming towards our next destination, which is the Shetlands.

Thus we had a lecture by Gordon Corrigan entitled ‘Blitzkrieg’. Guests learned that there was nothing new about Blitzkrieg – the name given by the French press to the German way of waging war – it was just that the Germans were better at it than the British or the French or the Americans. Initially it won stunning victories both in the West and on the Eastern Front, but in the end it all turned to ashes. Gordon’s talk examined the course of the Second World War and asked why the finest army in the world, with the best soldiers in Europe since the Great Elector, went down in defeat in 1945.

Shortly after Gordon’s lecture, we had a recap of the day’s activities and some of the birds and church graffiti we had seen over the last couple of days. Tomorrow is at sea and then we will be in the Shetlands, where, if the forecast is to be believed, we will have beautiful weather.