Voyage to Iceland 2019

IMG_0677 17-05-02 Shianteilanden - zonsondergang

On the Western Edge is starting a new chapter in the story of voyages and pilgrimages on the western coasts of the British Isles with blogs of a new voyage. I am sailing in the ketch Tecla, leaving Ullapool in Scotland in early May, sailing via the Hebrides, Orkney, Fair Isle, Shetland, Faroes aiming to make landfall on the southeast of Iceland in early June. From there we plan to sail to Reykjavik and on to the northwest of Iceland, to Isafjordur and the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve.

Tecla is an eighty-foot steel ketch, built in 1915 as a herring drifter in the North Sea. After a varied career fishing and as a cargo vessel she was converted into a charter vessel with space for 12 paying guests who work as crew on the voyage. I sailed on her to St Kilda with my son Ben two years ago, so I know something of what to expect. Tecla is owned by the Dutch Bouwman/Sluik family, whose aim is to sail her on worldwide adventures–they have already been around the world once. The voyage to Iceland is the first leg on a voyage that will take Tecla to Greenland, through the North West Passage, down the western coasts of North and South America, back round the Horn to the Falkland Islands, south to Antarctica, before returning to Europe.

I am going just as far as Iceland; I will be away between May 10 and June 10. My intention is to write blogs, maybe video blogs, along the course of this voyage and post them when I have internet connection. I hope you will follow me. If you are interested in tracking Tecla’s course, go to type ‘Tecla’ in the search box and choose ‘passenger NL’ you will be taken to details of the ship and a map of her position. If you are really interested, you can also search weather conditions from the sites listed below.

This voyage will of course be different from early single-handed pilgrimages in my yacht Coral, which were reported in earlier postings here and in my books Spindrift: A wilderness pilgrimage at sea, and In Search of Grace: An ecological pilgrimage, both of which are still available. Nevertheless, I hope to continue writing with a view to exploring the same kind of questions I took with me then. I start with the lament from Thomas Berry – geologian and earth scholar – that we modern humans are only talking to ourselves, that we have broken the great conversation with the Earth of which we are a part. I set out on my first sailing pilgrimage in 2011, intent on exploring what it means to re-establish a “great conversation” with the sea and the coast.

I am interested in particular in direct experience of the ‘great gestures’ of the planet: the North Atlantic weather systems that track across our islands, the pull of the moon and the sun that creates the rise and fall of oceans in the tides, the North Atlantic currents, that make up the North Atlantic Meridional Overturning which does so much to moderate the climate of northwest Europe (commonly, but erroneously, referred to as the Gulf Stream). I am also fascinated by the human history in relationship to this part of the world. Before long distance travel by land was easy, the coastal passages between Iceland, through the northern isles, Ireland, Cornwall, Brittany, down to the Mediterranean were of huge importance to trade and communication, certainly in the Bronze Age and probably before that.

My main question remains the same: How do we western humans develop an emotional and spiritual experience, as well as an intellectual understanding, that we are entirely part of and dependent on the natural world?


Weather Scotland May:

Weather Faroes:

Weather Reykjavik:




  1. Peter, I so appreciate your inviting me along on your writing journeys. It feels thrilling, even tho my own role in the adventure is so secondary and sedentary. Love, Bill T.

  2. Steve Reneaux says:

    Hi Peter, first time I’ve ‘blogged’ in my life! Just to let you know, I’m really looking forward to taking part in your magical adventure and what we’ll discover.
    Steve Reneaux

  3. Sailing helps the thinking mind take a break once in awhile and so we experience the fullness of what is. I am really looking forward to following your journey and reading about it. May you be happy and may you be safe.
    Nick Tudor

    • Thank you, Nick. Really at a waiting stage now, waiting for the weather to warm up, waiting to get Coral in the water, waiting to get going rather than think about it all! I am hoping to blog and tweet (@peterreason) while I am away. Thanks for your good wishes. P.

  4. Hi Peter,
    artist/forest/green policy contributor from the SOTG, also living in Ireland, looking forward to following your journey

  5. “We modern humans are only talking to ourselves… we have broken the great conversation with the Earth on which we live” – I had not come across that particular way of framing it. Thank you!

  6. Go well, Peter: moving through the water, powered by the air, honouring the earth with the fire of your spirit, you are at the wheel!

  7. Wish you a great journey, Peter! I am sorry your “western edge” is not a bit southern 🙂 If it was, we could meet in a warmer place here in Portugal 🙂 I wish you the best. I am a publisher now, but Portugal based. No doubt I would publish you if I was in the UK! RaquelCF

    • Thanks, Raquel. Of course the ‘western edge’ includes the whole seaboard of Western Europe from Shetland down to the Mediterranean. It has been a major trading route since Celtic times and even before. Sorry I am not coming your way!

  8. Hi, Peter. Do you know Adam Nicholson – particularly his book You have much in common.

    • Jeffrey, I don’t know that book, although I did read Adam Nicholson’s wonderful account of the Shiant Islands where I spent several days and have written about in my new book. Thanks for the link!

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