Day 5 / Thursday 7 July 2022
Position: 62°00΄N 06°46΄W – Torshavn Faroe Islands
Both Konstantinos and I were completely immersed in our thoughts. I don't know if we were ready for what we were about to attempt but we had to prepare ourselves in a few minutes and pull out all our resources to achieve our goal.
Leaving Stromness we preferred to make a detour because, as experts advised us, we had to avoid the SW cape of the island of Mainland and its tide, which at that particular time coming in from the north creates very dangerous seas.
We knew very well that there was no going back now.
We were riding very close to the islet of Hoy. But our challenges were not limited to the tide. Huge waves were coming from NW and in their collision with the tide created huge seas. Seas that, as local fishermen told us, have sunk entire ships.
We gritted our teeth and at a speed of 10 knots we tried to understand the situation. This strange sea of wind-tide conflict fortunately occurs only about 5-8 miles offshore. We finally managed to get out of this trap area unscathed and then set course for Faroe, which was NNW.
The weather was coming on our port bow from the NW. Unfortunately for us, the winds were the result of an unusual high barometric that had formed west of the Orkney Islands. Directly above it, 100 miles further north, was the low barometer at very close range, within which I desired to get as quickly as possible to put the waves on our port quarter.
But that was not enough. Big swells were coming in on our starboard bow from NE. The sea looked literally untraveled as the confluence of waves and swells made it "boiling".
Our hopes for an easier ride vanished. But we had to do our best. We were determined not to give up easily.
I kept my gaze completely fixed on my bow, focusing mostly on the menacing crests of the waves that were being thrown up from all sides. The waves were of great force and the distances between them were so short that they left us no room for navigation. The only solution was to attempt the most open slopes possible.
In vain I tried to find runways so that we could have a laminar cruise even at low speed. I was forced to constantly work with the throttles and steering wheel. We were navigating very hard at just 12 knots, in a real mess. There was no end to the problems.
Seas Remain Rough
After two hours the windshield wiper started to smoke. The fog was incredible and now we could see absolutely nothing in front of us. I was trying to steer now just by intuition and the sounds I was picking up from the strange hull landings. We were traveling blindly. I was not able to see my bow very well, but I had become "one" with my hull. I was feeling its exact position on the water more than seeing it.
I couldn't even take my eyes off the seas long enough to look at the instruments of the engines.
Only from their sound I could calculate the engines’ rpm and also from our constant take-offs. Somehow, steering and throttles movements, mostly following my gut and intuition, were instantaneous in an effort to coordinate with the erratic flow of oncoming waves.
The side windshields cracked. And those hours flowed incredibly slowly as we struggled to overcome every wave. We were being punished excruciatingly slowly for our decision to travel in such weather conditions. And we still had a long way to go.
We were trying not to think about the long distance we had to cover, but only to concentrate on the fight. It was a real and unequal war out there. We were a small dot in the ocean, sometimes disappearing into chaotic gullies and suddenly re-appearing on some ridge, in a watery, anarchically pulsing, gray and vast desert of saltwater.
I had only one goal: To reach the height of the barometric low so that we would have a more favorable direction of the waves.
But this never happened. We had already covered 100 nautical miles and were still fighting against the waves.
Taking Green Water
The bow was completely submerged in every wave. Water splashed furiously on the windshield and flowed with great momentum over the hard top, showering the stern sundeck. Often entire "rivers" would break through the cracks in the leading edges of the awnings and flood the deck. It was one of the worst seas I had ever encountered.
I have fought rough seas many times and somehow got used to the poundings. But this time my whole body ached—then began to feel numb as the freezing temperatures penetrated our gear.
When 30 miles separated us from Suðuroy, the southernmost island of the 18 that make up the Faroe Islands, the intensity of the winds rose even more, as was predicted, and the conditions became even more difficult. However, the sun came out and the whole scene changed. On the one hand, it lit up and warmed our souls, but on the other hand, the sea seemed more aggressive than ever. It burst furiously onto our port beam.
The wind started raging and howling. The sight was definitely scary but at the same time shocking and majestic. The intense color contrasts of the deep blue of the waves with their all-white crests rising to a great height filling the horizon with spray combined with the deep blue sky composed indelible images.
As if by magic, all my tiredness was gone. I nailed the throttles forward, maybe because the tension that had accumulated inside me wanted to release.
Now it was my turn. I felt like the boat was flying. We were in our own world, in the vast solitude of the desolate ocean. From wave to wave, between crests that broke violently playing chase with them.
We were meandering between them at over 30 knots and at last having fun despite the cold.
I needed that release. I really needed it after 12 hours of tension and fighting the waves.
It was 4 o'clock in the afternoon.
As we tried to navigate to the wharf, the wind was raging so powerfully the bow thruster was unable to hold the bow. After some maneuvering with the outboards, somehow we managed to get to the wharf and tie up.
Without much ado we changed our clothes, got into the cabin and dozed off for an hour.
When we awoke, we changed into insulated waterproof gear. Now we felt much better—both warmer and drier. We untied and headed back out to sea—perhaps not the greatest decision but our course was set, and we needed to maintain our schedule.
Not surprisingly, it was real hell out there. The weather was getting heavier. The cold was even worse, but the gear did its job. So, warmer now, we covered the remaining 35 miles to Torshavn, the capital of the Faroes located on Streymoy Islet. Total miles 235. Fuel used 920 L (243 gal.)
Day 6 / Friday 8 July 2022
Position: 62°00'N 06°46'W – Torshavn Faroe Islands
Day 6 of the expedition found us tied up in the Torshavn marina. Until noon we were looking for a way to transport fuel from neighboring stations as there was no gas station here either.
About Our 2x Suzuki 350s
Our RIB was powered by a pair of fuel-efficient Suzuki 350-hp outboards with counter-rotating stainless steel propellers, delivering dependable power to push the boat through the towering seas we knew we would encounter along the way.
The gearing and the large diameter of the twin propellers proved particularly effective at powering our heavily-loaded boat when she was full of fuel and keeping her on plane could have been a challenge running up sea—the engines did the job they were designed for throughout the trip.
Finally, we found a taxi and until late afternoon we were transporting and refueling. Our fatigue was beyond words as we carried a total of 1500 liters (396 gal) with our 70 liter (18.5 gal) tanks.
We had no energy for sight-seeing. As soon as we were able to eat at a nearby restaurant, we fell asleep in the cabin of the boat, exhausted.
Tomorrow: Part IV – Faroe Islands to Iceland
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