Annual Report 2005 – better late than never!
When thinking back to the summer of 2005, the first thing that springs to mind is the unsettled weather conditions. Northerly winds where dominating which made sea-based activities difficult. In total the weather affected schedule on 28 days during the summer and thereof we had to cancel all trips during 21 days. Due to this, number of passengers was slightly less than the year before, but business and the operation in whole were successful, which was confirmed with a survey done among North-Sailing passengers.
Due to the weather conditions the sightings of whales was less than in an average year. Still whales where spotted in 94% of the trips and considering everything, this must be pretty good. In May we had especially bad sightings, which is perhaps understandable as the winter had still not left the Skjálfandi Bay area. Other months where acceptable and in July we reached around 98% seightings.
Early in the year the company hired a new sales and marketing manager, Kristrún Konráðsdóttir. She comes with a valuable experience to the company and has previously worked for the tour operator ‘Discover the World’ in London.
During the high season the company employed 30 staff and majority of them had valuable experience from years of working for the company. Great efforts were put into training and education of guides who enjoyed a course in verbal communication, geology and further training on various subjects concerning whales.
No major changes where on North Sailing’s fleet, but the company invested in a few properties. Firstly, North-Sailing bought a beautiful old house in the centre of town which has now been converted into three flats and rented out. Secondly, the company is building a large service building that will house public toilets, offices and preparation kitchen for Restaurant Gamli Baukur. And last but not least, North Sailing bought an old house that was about to be torn down and plans to convert this to a ‘Kontidori’ located close to the harbour.
The work continued on the ‘Gardarsholmi’ project, which aims to be an educational centre in Húsavík, where the settlement of Nordic men started. ‘Gardarsholmi’ will be a cultural centre where emphasis is on strengthening the cultural connection with Sweden and put the spotlight on common cultural history of Nordic men. The preparation work is ongoing and within a few years, this will be up and running in a building at the harbour front in Húsavík.
In connection with this project a festival, ‘Swedish Days’ was held in Húsavík last summer. It aims to be an annual event celebrating the connection between the two countries.
In September, Haukur the Schooner sailed all the way to Reykjavík. The main purpose of the trip was to train the staff in sailing and also to invite tour operators in Reykjavik to experience sailing on the schooner. The trip was a success and proved once again that the boat is an excellent sailing vessel.
In November North Sailing got a visit from a Swedish ‘Viking’ and sailing expert, Leif Nilson, who stayed for a few days and trained staff in sailing on Haukur the Schooner. This visit was a huge success and Leif managed, in his short stay, to come up with various suggestions for improvements onboard and on the rig. Leif also confirmed that the schooner is an excellent vessel and the rig as good as it was during the era of the sailing boats.
At the end of the year a new operator, Börkur Emilsson, took over the operation of Restaurant Gamli Baukur. Börkur is not unknown to Gamli Baukur as he operated the restaurant for the first two years. We welcome Börkur back and wish him all the best in the coming season.
As previously mentioned North Sailing did a survey among its passengers last summer that gave us positive results and inspiration to do even better in coming years.
The survey reviled that passengers considered the company a serious one and trustworthy, and many mentioned that the Icelandic oak boats played a large part in their decision to sail with North Sailing. Passengers were also asked for their opinion of the trip and the service and below are a few interesting comments.
• Good guiding, great captain, nice getting blankets and hot chocolate!
• Thoroughly enjoyed the trip but don’t like hot chocolate
• Boats are beautiful, the ladies too and of course the whales.
• Very nice but cold
• Great trip, happy crew, saw whales and great goodies. Thank you!
• We didn’t see any bears on an iceberg… thanks for the hot chocolate.
• Excellent service. Very good captain.
It’s not long now until next season arrives and the North Sailing staff looks forward to the challenging season. Now we only have to hope that the weather gods will be more in favour of us this summer and that smiling tourists flock to Húasvík!
North Sailing Staff