Iceland to Ullapool
It’s been a while since my last post, March in Kenya to be exact, and I’m going on the road again, or more precisely, on the sea.
One of the places that I’ve wanted to visit for a very long time is the Faroe Islands, which for those of you who aren’t quite sure, are located in the North Atlantic, SE of Iceland and NW of the Shetland Islands which are north of Scotland.
To quote the Faroe Government website, “Since the Home Rule Act of 1948, the Faroe Islands have been a semi-autonomous region, encompassed by the external sovereignty of the Kingdom of Denmark.
The country adopts a variation of the Scandinavian type parliamentary democracy, the Løgting, which may well be the oldest parliament in the world. It was brought to the Islands by the Vikings in the 9th century and has continually governed the islands for the last 1100 years. The 33 members are elected for a period of four years by popular vote in the Faroe Islands as a single constituency. Additionally, the Faroese elect two members to represent the Faroe Islands at the Danish Parliament in Copenhagen.
Although for all intents and purposes the islands are self-governing, Denmark is still responsible for policing, defence and justice.”
Sounds pretty dry but there is a very rich, interesting history behind the dusty words. The Islands have been continuously settled since the 4th century, initially by Irish monks and later in the following centuries by Norwegians as well as by Irish and Scots. Many of these settlers later fled as the Faroes were subjected to Viking raids in the 9th century. However, many of the Vikings later settled in the Islands themselves and part of that heritage is the formation and development of the world’s oldest parliament.
Virtually cut-off from Europe until the very recent past, the Faroes have created over the centuries a unique culture and cuisine and a very strong sense of their place in the world. I have been fascinated by the Islands for a very long time and I recently decided that it was time to act on my interest and plan a visit. In the course of my research and planning I discovered a sailing organization that acts as an aggregation portal for a number of sailing ships that cruise and sail from and to various locations around the world. One of these, a 35 metre Dutch gaff-rigged ketch built in 1915 as a herring drifter and refitted in the 80’s as an ocean sailer, was sailing from Reykjavik, Iceland to Ullapool in Northern Scotland via the Faroes, the Shetlands, the Orkneys and on in to Ullapool. The voyage is 22 days aboard and while I’m paying for my passage, the 12 of us who have signed on are working passengers and who, with the 4 permanent crew, will be working the boat for the duration of the voyage.
I’m very excited, but the North Atlantic in late September is a little daunting. I pick up the boat in Iceland on Sept 3 and we land in Ullapool on Sept 24. I know nothing of my crew mates, though we will be sharing cabins, but that’s part of the adventure. V will definitely not be along on this trip, not hard to understand why, but she will be flying over to Scotland and meeting the ship in Ullapool.
So, I’m scrambling trying to make sure I’m organized and packing all the right things for a September, North Atlantic ocean sail.
More to come!