Our first night out of Reykjavik during our August 2021 cruise around Iceland on the Viking Sky, we sailed northwest around and into Ísafjarðardjúp, one of the many fjords of the Westfjords region. Waking up as we sailed toward the town of Ísafjördur we enjoyed the newly clear weather and watching the rising sun’s shifting light shine on the mountains at the fjord’s edge, as seen in the photo above.
After docking in Ísafjördur, we embarked on a bus tour around the town and then out to the Ósvör Maritime Museum near the neighboring village of Bolungarvík. Our route (see map below) took us through a miles-long tunnel that had replaced a hazardous avalanche-prone road along the water’s edge that had often been unpassable in the winter.
The Maritime Museum is a reconstruction of a fishing station from the 1800’s. The curator (in authentic fisherman’s garb) described the rugged, isolated life faced by the small group of fisherman who hunkered down in the modest sod-roofed buildings when they weren’t out fishing in their open row boats.
After lunch back at the ship, we went on an outing to Vigur Island (it’s at the red dot on right hand side of the map above). Our trip was on a much smaller vessel than the Sky:
This video gives you a flavor of what the ride to the island was like:
Vigur Island has a single farmstead with a small family that lives there for only part of the year.
One of the structures on the island is a windmill, which retains its wooden internal works.
The island is a summer-time nesting site for puffins and other birds. Unfortunately, the puffins were long gone before we arrived in late August. There were some Eider ducks lingering in the area:
Beyond welcoming tourists to their coffee and gift shop, one of the reasons for the family staying on the island was for the harvesting of Eider down. The down is harvested from the Eider duck’s nests (and not from the ducks!). The parents shed/pluck their feathers to line the nests for their eggs/chicks. It turns out that thinning the accumulated down after nesting actually helps improve future nesting results. We were able to see some of the (quite dirty) down and the equipment that’s used to clean and initially process the feathers for use as insulation.
It has to be a lonely life isolated on a island. One thing that has to compensate though are the incredible views:
After returning to Ísafjördur, the Viking Sky departed for our next destination, which was Akureyi in northern Iceland. As we left Ísafjördur, we sailed past a local landmark, a depression in the fjord’s mountainside called Naustahvilft – The Troll Seat. This was just one of many features of the Icelandic landscape that we saw on this trip that have attachments to mythical creatures.