Return to Akureyri

We arrived in Akureyri early yesterday morning amid thick fog and placid waters. We tied up to the same dock we’d been at when we were here back in July and cleaned Polar Bear stem to stern. The harbor staff showed up and connected the water and electricity, the customs man came and went, and we were free to play.

First up was, of course, the pool complex. The hot tubs and steam bath were still soothing, the slide still wacky fun, and the facilities all top-notch. A restoring visit once again and I emerged squeaky clean after two weeks of alternating clothes — one set for on-watch, one set for off-watch — and regular tooth brushing as the means to maintaining sanitary living. And the earlier-described dip/shampoo in the sea at Hekla in Scoresby Sund was about it when it came to active sanitation methods. Manky? Not quite. But certainly not the height of stylish living, perhaps.

But Iceland is a stylish nation, after all, so I had to clean up, right? Home to just 300,000 people, it is, nevertheless, home ground for several high-end clothing companies that focus on stylish, functional outdoor — and outdoor-looking — apparel. One such company is 66 North, perhaps the best-known of Iceland’s outdoor companies. I checked out their two stores here in Akureyri and found them both light years better than the store in Reykjavik. In the capital city, the 66 North store was more of a boutique with an emphasis on fashion and city wear. Here on the north coast, one store was an outlet, with bargains on blemished items and off-sizes, while the other store (in a small mall) was more mainstream…but its selection blew away that of the Reykjavik city. If I were in the market for stylish clothes (and had one of my more more tasteful friends here to counsel me), I could easily have spent a ton of money in there. As it is, I walked out with a pair of too-warm overmitts to replace the old Black Diamond versions I sold in my Easter garage sale in Anchorage, and which will come in very handy on the nighttime watches to come.

I hit up 66 North today, a brief respite from final preparations for our departure tomorrow morning. The boat’s water tanks were filled, its heater fixed, the forward locker rearranged and packed, laundry done, and food stores put away. We’ll head out in the morning bound for the Shetland Islands in what should be a five-day journey or so. The forecast is for every possible wind scenario: dead calm, raging winds courtesty of the remnants of Hurricane Irene; on the nose to dead aft and from both port and starboard sides. It should be an interesting journey, to be sure, and hopefully we’ll get to do a bit more sailing en route to Lerwick than we’ve done pretty much all summer. It’s been an overwhelmingly engine-driven summer…not at all what I signed on for. If you know any wind dances, we could use ’em about now, thanks.

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