Iceland’s most northerly port

Scoresby Sund Expedition 2022

Days 57. 7th August 2022

Position: Raufarhofn, Iceland

Weather: The sun is shining!

We left Husavik at 00:22 in the morning which was the moment the strong winds died down and backed to NWbW just enough to give us a cut to clear the headland. Obviously after such prolonged bad weather the sea was still quite rough but once we had cleared the bay there was enough power in the wind to push the boat along nicely at 5 knots.

As we turned eastwards rounding the Melrakkasletta peninsular we had a rolly downwind ride eventually gybing in towards the Rifstangi reef when the wind began to drop off.  We decided to motor the rest of the way to avoid the promised headwinds due later in the day. It was these forecasts which had the wind turning southerly which made us decide to call in at Iceland’s most northerly port called Raufarhofn rather than head for Langanes.

Passing the gannet stack

I often wonder whether the Windy app has done us sailor’s any favours. Although it provides useful short term forecasting, it also alerts you to possible grim weather way ahead. There was a time when you would cast off in gay abandon when the sun was out and enjoy the day without worrying what was going to happen in a few days time. I suspect the colouring is also adding to an unnerving sense with the dark purple denoting certain death at sea. I think I long for the old days but there’s no going back.

The lighthouse at Raufarhofn

Although it would be nice to get that notorious headland out of the way we are very pleased that we have stopped in this rather whacky place.

Old American cars with flat tyres
There are strange things all over the place!

It is in total contrast to Husavik. It would be hard to describe Raufarhofn as “pretty” but we absolutely love the place. The people are super friendly. Whenever we say hello to a local, they already know that we are off the varnished wooden boat. By the way, we are the only yacht here*. The only vessel we saw sailing the 60 nm getting here was a cruise ship on the horizon. It is a lonely place for yachts.

Sumara moored under the lovely church in the sun!

Raufarhofn was once an important herring fishing port. It was the largest export harbour in the whole of Iceland.  In the 1940’s and 1950’s hundreds of workers flocked here for good well-paid work. The population reached 500 plus about 2,000 migrant workers. There were reputably parties every night. The collapse of the herring industry was devastating for the village and now there are only about 200 residents.

There are lots of industrial buildings scattered around. These massive vats once held herring oil!
An oystercatcher having a paddle
The beautiful Icelandic horses

Raufarhofn is well off the beaten track being one of the most remote villages in Iceland. It has no bus service. With the appalling weather this year the friendly café no longer opens in the evenings being fed up sitting and waiting for a customer. The hotel gets most business in the winter with tourists coming to see the northern lights.

Lots of characterful old buildings

Today the sun is out, and it is actually rather warm up here even though we are just 3 miles south of the Arctic Circle. A new depression is forecast to roll in on Sunday quickly followed by another on Tuesday. It is our plan to head off in the centre on the depression on Tuesday, round the headland in slack winds (and tides) and sail down the lee of Iceland before heading off to the Faroe Islands. It is possible we will continue straight to Stornoway, but it looks doubtful that we would get there before getting clobbered by another low. Anything could happen!


Two yachts have just sailed in making use of this settled weather.

When there is a gale blowing you are always very content to be in a snug harbour but somehow it feels weird to be in a port in this settled weather – why aren’t we out there sailing – then you remember that the wind direction is due to get stronger from the wrong direction – at least according to Windy. You think “why beat yourself up unnecessarily?” but without the app maybe we would be enjoying a sail?    

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.