The Coast of Iceland

We’re about 20 miles off the north coast of Iceland now, 30 from the mouth of the fjord we’ll enter to head to Akureyri. From there, it’s another 30 or so to the dock, so we’re about 10 hours from tying up and being finished with this expedition.

My watch starts in half an hour and runs until 3am. Given the timing, this will likely be my last official watch of the trip as well. Boogies mixed up the lineups for the leg from Jan Mayen: I’ve been teamed up with two 50-something physicians from Oslo. Nice guys, both of them named Tore (pronounced: “TOR-uh” with that rolled R that Americans are largely incapable of pronouncing), they have some sailing in their backgrounds and are both very active. They’ve run the New York Marathon and, as you might expect, climb mountains. Both are personable and intelligent, too, so it’s been an enjoyable watch detail this trip.

And as always, it’s with mixed emotions that I near port. Offshore passages are, to be honest, pretty exhausting, even when there’s not a lot of work to be done — as on this trip. But the motion of the boat, the wind, the short sleep stints…it all adds up to being a fatigue-producing effort. Throw in current conditions — thick fog, an island off our starboard beam, several fishing boats at work — and the workload that was so small suddenly ratchets up a couple of notches.

But on the plus side, there is the joy of simply being at sea: sailing on the wind (conditions permitting), birds and dolphins coursing by, the deep blue water, the freedom. I always fear these things could disappear from my life forever upon tying up to a dock and going ashore. I know they won’t but there’s always that fear.

Switching gears: Boogie said that the tenor of my posts had been on a downward trajectory since the trip started back in May. I went back and examined this here blog and I don’t see it, but just in case some of you do, let me stress the fact that I’m having a great time out here. Any negative vibes that come through are due to two factors: one, the introspection that this trip and this whole stage in my life has engendered, and two, the shennanigans with the owners changing the boat’s (and my) plans for the year.

The first factor, the introspection, is the main reason I’m out here. Yes, there’s the learning-more-about-operating-a-boat aspect to the trip, but that’s clearly less important in the long run than figuring out what the hell to do with my life, boat or no. The navel-gazing I’ve been doing — and my apologies to all who’ve bothered to read such tripe — is my way of following Robert Frost’s “through” directive. I’ll come out the other end at some point, I promise.

The second factor, well, ’nuff said on that one. As you may have read, I’m pissed at the owners and what their timidity and stupidity have done to plans made by both friends of mine and me, and their callousness when confronted with the news that hey, you clowns are jerkin’ us around.

So any negativity that comes out from either of those factors is either me working through things or me venting, and I beg your indulgence. On top of that, my mother says she prefers when I get more of me and less travelogue into this gibberish, so I’m searching for a balance between the two. Again: your indulgence, please.

At any rate, we’re nearing the end of this leg, and I’m nearing the end of the first half of this summer of soul searching at sea. I’m looking forward to getting back to the States in a couple of days and sleeping in a stable, wide bed for a bit. The posts will continue; it is to be hoped that the change in venue will provide an equivalent change in perspective, a new way of looking at these same things, so to speak.

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