Hvalfjordur

Sailing out of Reykjavik a brisk wind throws up white caps, but in the lee of the land, the waves are small and the sea slight. With a reef in the main and just the staysail we tack into Hvalfjordur. The mountains each side of the entrance show the lines of eruption of basalt, slightly angled from the horizontal. In the distance a more jagged range stands dark against the sky.

The ship sails calmly, with just a slight roll, a lift of the bows, a wake stretching out behind. But on board there is constant movement. The mainsail lifts and drops, tightening and dropping the sheet and preventer, sometimes enough to draw out a gentle squeak from the block. The slack halliards lift and drop, their tail ends swing like soft pendulums. Shadows trace patterns back and forth across the deck. The mainsail fills with wind, then slackens; reef points flutter out to leeward. The Icelandic courtesy flag flutters from the rigging, the Dutch flag streams out from the top of the mizen mast. The skipper spins the wheel to bring the ship back onto the wind. There is a gust of stronger wind, the ship heels, gathers speed and all movement increases.

It is time to tack. We move to our stations at the foresail sheets and the running back stays. As the wheel goes over the ship comes through the wind in a clatter of blocks and screech of metal on metal as the travellers move across. Heaving quickly, the new windward backstay is set, The new lazy one released and stowed, and the ship takes up her new course through the whitecaps blowing down the fjord.

That was supposed to be the end of this piece of writing, a description of an quiet day sailing. But as we tacked up the fjord, the wind slowly increased. As we sailed from one shore toward the opposite, it also funnelled down through the hills, changing direction by the minute. Clouds gathered over the mountains to our north, a line of cumulus, a rolling coil with a heavy dark bottom. A catabatic wind was clearly dropping down from the cold peaks and adding to the day’s northwesterly. The pleasant whitecaps became full blown white horses, the wind howling through the rigging, water surging through the scuppers onto the deck, spraying up from the bows.

All the light movements I tracked above became exaggerated. The mainsail strained at its sheets; the reef points blow out almost horizontal. Coiled ropes hang at a marked angle to the heel of the ship. From time to time the sun glimmered through the cloud, refracting shy rainbows in the bow spray.

Time and again we tacked Tecla, the new guests getting the hang of the ropes, finding how to balance on the angled deck, and learning where to stand out of the worst of the wind. We found ourselves grinning at each other as we agree that this sailing is exhilarating. One last tack and the skipper called for the mainsail to be brought down. The boom and gaff come down neatly enough, but the heavy canvas blows out to windward, some of us leap onto the coach roof and struggle to get the gaskets round it, to tighten them so it is under control.

Under engine the skipper steers between an island and a spit of land; the crew prepare the anchor to drop. Soon all is quiet.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Bath Writers & Artists Group

Working Site managed by Sue Boyle

immanence

ecoculture, geophilosophy, mediapolitics

Rain on Arrakis

I'm Franklin Ginn, a cultural geographer at the Unviersity of Bristol. My research interests are in multispecies landscapes, plant politics, environment-society relations, Anthroposcenes/ Chthulucenes and philosophical questions concerning the nonhuman.

Footnotes2Plato

"The safest general characterization of the philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." —Alfred North Whitehead

fire in the head

28 years inspiring creative & reflective writing

Richard White

explorations in place and time

Seasonalight

light seeking

The New Citizenship Project Blog

THIS SITE IS NO LONGER UPDATED - PLEASE SEE OUR WEBSITE OR MEDIUM CHANNEL

Shiny New Books

What to Read Next and Why

Tidal Cultures

Explorations of cultural and natural aspects of tidal landscapes in the UK, The Netherlands and beyond

dmanzife

Sometimes I want to write things down

Joe Minihane

Travel, technology, lifestyle

Sarah Irving

I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic

dianajhale

Recent work and work in progress and anything else that interests me

westcoastings

Going wild on Scotland's west coast

qualia and other wildlife

Ecological writing between ocean and land

Dark Mountain

Ecological writing between ocean and land

Joanna Macy and Her Work

Ecological writing between ocean and land

The Island Review

the online home for island lovers, writers and artists

Coming Home to Story

Notes from a journeyman writer, storyteller, and narrative consultant

%d bloggers like this: