Sailing Southern Iceland - Surtsey
World's Newest Island
Reindeer's 1976 Transatlantic Crossing
Tuesday, June 30, 1976
Blog Entry #20
Without any fanfare, Reindeer departed Reykjavik on a misty, low cloudy day. As we motored out of the harbor, I felt the ambivalence of returning to sea. On one hand, I was excited about the new sights, experiences and adventures that lay ahead over the next horizon. On the other, I could rarely escape the memories and images of our 10-day rollercoaster endurance test.
While I couldn't wait for those gales to end and those waves to subside and have to confess, memories as a 6 year-old asking, "When are we getting there, Mom?" did cross my mind a few times, I never experienced any nightmares about any of the physically challenging aspects of our voyage. Yes, I could tell my body had been beaten up by the experience, but even though I knew facing similar weather conditions during the next 2 weeks was a distinct possibility, I now knew I was better prepared to endure them. That did not mean I was looking forward to that kind of challenge again, but something in me surfaced that I didn't have two weeks ago. However, as much as I liked the temporary hotel comfort, I found myself actually eager to return to sailing after two days ashore.
Surtsey from a mile away in 1976.
Somehow I now felt "sea-soned" and could envision being entirely competent and capable aboard the roughest of oceans. Twice before I had crewed on Prim with the Sonny Neff and his sons on two Newport-Bermuda races so I had had some ocean sailing experience crossing the Gulf Stream in rough seas before my Reindeer ride. The biggest difference between the two: duration and temperature. Crossing the Atlantic in northern waters took 24 sailing days in the cold; racing to Bermuda for 3-4 days in warm waters were hardly comparable.
During those 16-17 days of sailing in a much colder ocean from Newport to Reykjavik, my body and mind had somehow become much more attuned to and in sync with the sea. Consequently, I felt a new confidence as well as a calm that I could face just about anything nature had to dish out. I convinced myself I had more than survived during those 4 storms; I had actually started believing I had thrived through them. Probably for some cocky Odyssesain reason, I actually felt I had faced the worst that Poseden and his cyclops son Polyphemus had doled out to Odysseus and his crew. Somehow I started believing I actually had enjoyed those obstacles and opportunities handed to me by the fates. Certainly with three new crew on board, I felt a little like one of the other two old salts on board, Newbold and Orlin. Boy, was I delusional. As I will discover, I still had lot to learn. Like the new-born island, Surtsey, I felt I had emerged from the depths and could now stand taller.
Orlin photographing Surtsey as Reindeer passes
Reindeer's close-up view of Surtsey, lava land in 1976.