The Might of the Sea
“Adventure is just bad planning”
- Roald Amundsen; Norwegian polar explorer
The crimson hues of the rising sun peeked through the clouds ever so briefly this morning as Viking Cruises’ Viking Star approached the Faroe Islands and our second port of call, the capital known as Torshavn.
As quickly as it appeared, the light was snuffed out like a candle by the swirling clouds that appeared with deep hues of blue and grey on the horizon. A light, mist-like rain fell as we entered the harbour, greeted by a fireboat watercannon welcome in honour of Viking Star’s maiden call here this morning.
Torshavn – pronounced tor-shaun – was settled by Viking explorers in the 9th century, continuing the through-line of this particular cruise of calling on ports previously visited by these early explorers. Now under Danish rule, Torshavn has long been used as a sort of safe haven for early sailors and explorers. That it is overcast today should come as no surprise: Torshavn is one of the cloudiest places on earth, with an average of just 2.4 hours of sunlight per day.
Interestingly, Torshavn was once a historic trading port with Bergen, Norway, which we sailed from on Monday evening. In 1271, a Royal Trade monopoly saw two ships sailing regularly between Bergen and Torshavn, their holds crammed with goods. Not only was this good for the local economy, but Torshavn – an otherwise remote, entirely cut-off community – received far more interaction with the outside world than other island communities of the time.
As we entered the harbour and approached the town, Viking Star slowed noticeably. We came to a stop just outside the breakwater and held our position for about a half hour.
While we did this, the winds picked up noticeably. The skies around us darkened, and the cloud ceiling lowered perceptibly, to the point where it didn’t seem unreasonable for Viking Star’s funnel to be partially obscured.
Finishing breakfast, I began to have doubts about our ability to call on Torshavn. It turns out I was right: at 9:00am, Captain Lokling came over the public address system to inform us that due to the deteriorating weather conditions, he had been forced to cancel our call on Torshavn. Viking Star’s engines rumbled to life, and her propellers bit into the water, propelling us away from the harbour at 16 knots.
Captain Lokling also advised us that conditions would be deteriorating throughout the day, and it didn’t take long for us to see exactly what he meant. By 9:40 am, we were back in the North Sea, plowing through heavy swells and pitching up and down. Seas were expected to reach six metres by early afternoon, with the UK Meteorological office calling for winds approaching Gale Force 8. An entire line of storms now stands between us and Reykjavik, Iceland, where we are due to arrive ahead of schedule on Thursday night for an overnight stay.
What impressed me (even as we pitched dramatically up and down with the rising seas and deteriorating weather) was how well my fellow guests took this news. Everyone I spoke with or overheard expressed disappointment at missing Torshavn, but stressed that our Captain had made the right call. No ports are being substituted (there really are none that would be suitable), leaving us with two days at sea aboard Viking Star. And that’s just fine with me.
With a whole day aboard Viking Star, let’s take a look around this beautiful ship – in pictures: