Leaving Westman islands. But this in summertime and calm seas all around. Try this in wintertime when the wind blows hard as nails. PIC Davide Zanchettin

Leaving Westman islands. But this in summertime and calm seas all around. Try this in wintertime when the wind blows hard as nails. PIC Davide Zanchettin

Sadly Iceland has seldom had the good fortune of having very smart people in government. Examples abound but the economic crash in 2008 must come close as a world record in governing disaster. 

The very same government that almost took a whole country over the cliff with untold hardships for locals in 2008 did other things equally as stupid although not as serious.

Good old Matthew, disciple of Jesus, wrote many years ago about the folly of building a house on sand. The prediction has indeed proved pretty accurate throughout time. But only to those that learn from the past. But even a two thousand year old lesson did not stop the Iceland government building a fancy harbor for a single ferry for millions of dollars on sand.

The ferry in question is the only one sailing to and fro South of Iceland to Vestmannaeyjar or Westman islands. Which are certainly worth a visit for many reasons, not least to see up close and personal what havoc a volcano can wreak on a village. It is the Pompeii of Iceland as some have taken to calling it although no one died as in the Italian village when the Helgafell volcano erupted in 1973.[blockquote type=”blockquote_line” align=”right”]Such flow of sand tends to build up over time as learned in kindergarten[/blockquote]

Problem is the South coast of Iceland is more or less just sand. Indeed, the black sands of South Iceland entice a number of visitors year round. The sand is both coming from the sea itself but more importantly coming from rivers flowing from the great glaciers of this country. Such flow of sand tends to build up over time as learned in kindergarten by most except perhaps the designers of the new harbor. They just went for it. They did so knowing that even the U.S. Army corps of engineers, known for building amazing stuff all around the world, rejected building a harbor here decades ago. Would never work they said.

Lo and behold. The harbor, Landeyjarhofn harbor, has been nothing but problematic since opening. The ferry it was built for cannot enter the harbor in rough seas and the route has to shut down regularly over wintertime in order to clean sand from its mouth.

Which means, for everyone visiting Iceland in winter and wanting to stroll around Westman islands might have to plan that particular trip very loosely. Most often the ferry takes another route if seas are rough or Landeyjahofn harbor is closed. But that secondary route takes six to seven hours to and fro instead of about an hour if Landeyjahofn harbor is open and operating. Which might make a quick day trip to the islands an overnight stay. And god forbid you leave your car at Landeyjaehöfn only to find the ferry sails to Thorlakshofn on the way back. That´s only two hours drive.

Taking this into your Iceland plan in wintertime might save you a whole heap of trouble and lost time. Then again, it is next to impossible to predict when Landeyjarhofn will be open and when closed.

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