Under Sail to Watch the Whale
North Sailing’s traditional oak schooners sail to the whales
Sailing traditional Icelandic schooners used to be almost a memory of the past until brothers, Hörður and Árni Sigurbjarnarson painstakingly restored a 20-ton oak vessel to its former glory and started taking
visitors whale and puffin watching from the northern town of Húsavík.
Their company, North Sailing, began in 1994 with one vessel, the Knörrin, but news spread quickly and their tours became so popular that two more vessels were renovated. The Haukur was fitted with traditional equipment in the spirit of the 18th century shark schooners that used to fish off the coasts of northern Iceland. All the boats are outfitted to modern standards without losing the beauty and charm of the traditional oak wood finish.
Challenges and memories
Sailing the arctic seas in a schooner being driven by the wind at up to 10 knots under full sail, following the world’s largest creatures is an experience for but few - but the memory will last a lifetime! Perhaps this stress-free, environmentally friendly travel is the way of the future.
Twice the experience
Today, North Sailing’s fleet of six vessels sails from both Húsavík and Ólafsfjörður, just about an hour’s drive up the fjord from Akureyri. These are prime locations for whale watching - literally just minutes from the feeding grounds of whales, dolphins and porpoises!
The new tunnel between Ólafsfjörður and Siglufjörður, famed for its herring museum, and music means that it is quicker and safer to travel between the towns.
Tours for all tastes
Regular tours last approx. 3–4 hours and include hot chocola
te and local snack refreshments. Warm overalls, hats, gloves, blankets and raincoats are available in case of any changes in weather. There are up to 10 tours daily during high season. The evening trips are special in summer, sailing under the midnight sun! There is the option to combine a trip with a 2-hour horse riding tour from Saltvík Horse Centre, south of Húsavík.
For the more adventurous, there is a 2-day ‘Edge of the Arctic’ tour eating and sleeping on board, stopping off at Flatey and Grímsey islands. What food could be fresher than fish caught en route and grilled on board! Eagle Air flies passengers directly from Reykjavik airport to Húsavík for this tour so if you have limited time, you really get the most from your visit.
The ultimate is an 8-day tour, flying from Reykjavik airport to Greenland, sailing on the schooner, ‘Hildur’, with
treks inland to breathtaking views and a BBQ on the beach, eating locally-prepared musk ox meat.
Lunch or Dinner at the Harbour
The beautiful Gamli Baukur restaurant, with its large verandas overlooking Húsavík harbour, offers a great dining experience, surrounded by maritime memorabilia to complete your tour. With its fresh seafood, both local and international dishes, it is a hot venue for live music.