Hello, I'm Henry.  

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If you come along with me, you'll become acquainted with my motley mates and faithful crew:

Experiences, Sightings, Observations, Impressions, Ideas, Reflections, Remembrances, Insights and Commentary.

They, after all, have accompanied me for as long as I can recall. Their tenure has helped me turn my tiller, fill my sails, and transport me over seas to distant lands. Maybe if you take the time to get to know them, a few will do the same for you.

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Sailing Southern Iceland - Surtsey

Sailing Southern Iceland - Surtsey

World's Newest Island

Reindeer's 1976 Transatlantic Crossing

Tuesday, June 30, 1976

Blog Entry #20

It felt rejuvenating to have Reindeer and her crew fully-cleaned, refreshed, resupplied and rested during those three days in Reykjavik. It actually didn’t take us very long to get prepared for the next two legs of our trip...a mere 450 miles to the Faroes (southeast of Iceland and northwest of Scotland) and then another 400-500 miles or thereabouts to our Norwegian coastal destination on 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
— Down Denmark Strait p 94.
 Reindeer's route to Surtsey and then on to Heimaey.  Surtsey's eruption in 1963  and

Reindeer's route to Surtsey and then on to Heimaey. Surtsey's eruption in 1963 and

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

“Once around Reykjanes, the southwestern tip of Iceland, we eased sheets and rolled eastward toward the Westmann Islands, which are volcanic outcroppings approximately fifteen miles south of mainland Iceland. Surtsey, the latest addition to these islands, poled up through the ocean in 1963 - a fiery and smokey spectacle if there ever was one, judging from the pictures I have seen. As we passed Surtsey, only a few hundred yards to starboard we could see one lone guard standing watch on this totally black islet. His function was to keep people away so that scientists could study the evolution of life without human interference. We saw black guillemots, razorbills, and puffins, but the only birds that had started to nest on Surtsey were fulmars, whose eggs and chicks are often attacked and consumed by the great black-backed gull.”

Reindeer's close-up view of Surtsey, lava land in 1976.

Drowning Ourselves

Drowning Ourselves

Following a Disaster

Following a Disaster