7-8-2017 Whales and Sigurdoldur
The night before was a rocking and rolling one, after pulling away from the ice, after people had tossed themselves into the water of the Polar Plunge. Brrr! I had no enthusiasm for that. Don’t swim enough I suppose.
Then we headed out toward the ocean and Iceland, so back out through the plates of ice. The sound of bumping, cracking and grinding along the sides of the ship grew gradually less. We were called to dinner and over dinner the sound of the ice disappeared. The seas got rougher.
It was a fancy Philippine dinner. The food was good (but then, it is always good) and the waiters and waitresses were all dressed in traditional shirts and dressed. High heels on the rocking ship, too. Yikes!
We were shunted after dinner to the lounge which had the curtains pulled down to make a dark room, and there was a band made of various of the crew, which played what sounded like oldies but goodies. I didn’t stay long, I had been late about taking my Dramamine pill that evening, and wasn’t feeling any too steady. I walked outside where I could see the horizon from a sheltered place on and outside gangway, and stood there collecting myself until I was tired and went to bed.
So that morning it was smooth, for which I was very grateful. We were powering away toward land on the horizon, and it was one of those glittering mornings, the sky bright blue and the sea a deep blue to match.
We had been in the lounge watching a presentation, when Brent called down to us that whales were breaching, and we all scrambled upstairs and outside for a view. Never did see the breaching whale but never mind. There were plenty of whales enough for everyone’s taste.
Whales, bubble feeding, whales floating, whales lying on one side, whales on their back, whales up close, at a distance and in between. There were four or five pods of whales surfacing at one time. Whale soup. It was all humpbacks as far as I know.
A youngster just playing around!
Humpback up close!
I got a lot of pictures and then ran out of space on my SD card, so just watched and enjoyed it all for awhile. In the sunny warm weather (the temperature was much more clement than it had been amidst the ice flows) we were quite comfortable and happy.
We continued on into the northern town of Sigurdur (sp) which had been a major herring cannery town in the 1930s.
Evidently the “romance” of the herring girl life appealed to all young women in Iceland, who came out here in droves to work for the summers. There had been about 30 factories, and something like 150 boats going out daily to catch herring. The herring girls were the first stop after the boats got back, cursing and sorting and packing the fish. The factories made oil and fish meal out of the leavings. It sounded like a hard life but a sort of amusing group of strangers thrown together to work hard, and no doubt, play hard at the same time. Dances most nights of the week. So few places to live that it was two to a bed, and the beds were very small. Anyway, the town has renovated two old buildings and built a third for a wonderful museum.
The first is an old building where the girls lived. There used to be 30 or 40 of these kinds of buildings, but no more. The rooms were tiny and packed with beds and kitchen gear. The second is one of the old factories with it’s boilers and steam engines and workshop tools and the third is a new building, very large, in which they have recreated a bit of the fishing pier itself, with about 9 boats all set up as if floating above the water. It is excellent. I was quite pleased with it all. There were movies all about from the age, surprisingly, with young pretty women decked out in rubber gloves and huge yellow aprons, tossing their curled hair for the camera and looking glorious full of health and sass.
There were some herring girls who gave a demo of what the herring girls do in the front of one of the buildings and then we all joined in on a herring girl dance. Most amusing.
But better than that was the flights of the fulmars and the terns above the little pond in front of the museums. Gloriously close. It was addictive to try to capture their whisking flight.
We had 2 hours to wander around the town. I walked up to the graveyard which stood above the town. A sweet, quiet place, looking out over the calm fjord. The high mountain sides swept down in a classic glacially carved u shape into the water. The walls of the mountain were verdant green and on one hillside purple lupin painted great swaths of lavender and plum. The water was very calm, the day was generous and bright. But I could see in the cold night this would be a lonely place.
I walked around through the town, took pictures of the houses with their very modest embellishments,
then made it back to the ship, which was truly a ship and stood waiting, very large and solemn, a wall to climb into, and then stood on the deck as we pulled away back out to the sea from the town of the herring girls.