The first e-mail which left my computer in Germany arrived a few seconds later on the mail-account of North Sailing in Húsavík on Iceland. I had to wait a couple of days, but than I got a reply from Heimir with mainly one question:
– Dear Martin, are you experienced in sailing?
Hhhmmmm, what to write back? I decided to be honest and I replied:
– No sorry, I have never been on a sailing boat in my life!
– But still I`m interested in working for North Sailing.
The answer of Heimir came quickly:
– Ok fine, just book your airplane tickets and come to Húsavík.
– You are more than welcome and we will teach you how to sail on our schooner Haukur.
Perfect, I got the first connection and I booked the tickets already the following day:
– Yes, I will be in Húsavík the 1st of July 2006.
So, I went to Húsavík to discover Iceland and to work as an assistant on board of one of the North Sailing boats, the two masted schooner Haukur. I had a brilliant time, working and learning a lot about the sea, sailing, whales, birds and the life in general on this island. I came into a friendly and familiar atmosphere and already after a few days I was feeling a bit like being at home, altough all the people in this small town were unknown, and my work on sea was new and all the beautiful natural impressions around me as well. I was fascinated by the scenery of Skjálfandi Bay with the mountains in the background, the different whale watching experiences mainly every day and sure, really impressed by more special offers the North of Iceland had to give.
Mountains of Kinn, Humpback whale and a lot of happy passengers
on Skjálfandi Bay
Also, I got a completly new vision of Iceland while working and being in contact with all these local and open minded people. I replaced a bit the romantic view which Europeans still have in their mind while thinking about the small island far up in the North Atlantic. With just a few tiny and isolated fishing villages, colourful old wooden houses, some lonely horses in a calm and peaceful natural surrounding. For sure, all these aspects are still to find in a lot of places on Iceland, but also it´s an island with strong economical interests and changes, heavily influenced by an american way of life.
In general I was really happy and thankful to get all my imagination about Iceland more clear, I could see the differences between a german and an icelandic way of life and I was glad to stay in the North Sailing community in Húsavík to realize all this. Last but not least I enjoyed the bright summertime in such a beautiful and incredible landscape. It refreshed my body and my mind, so I decided already after september to return back in 2007.
Directly after I finished my studies in visual communication in Germany I took a train from Berlin to Copenhagen and an airplane to continue my travel to Akureyri and Húsavík. I was back! A bit late this year, because the main season for whale watching was almost over, but still in the right time to produce a short documentary movie together with Sebastian from Sweden about North Sailing. So we got equiped with a camera and microphone and we were well supported with all kinds of help during the recording days. It was amazing and a pleasure for both of us to observe the whales and feel the happiness of mostly all passengers during a successful whale watching trip on Skjálfandi Bay. It was so nice to recognize and catch a lot of smiling faces when people were leaving the boats after being so close to these enormous animals. It was also special to see and follow the different activities of North Sailing besides whale watching and we could get the importance of this work from another point of view.
Again I was learning a lot and I got closer to the expectations of all visitors, I experienced the companies aims and it was great to be involved as one of the North Sailing crew members. All this, while working in a creative way, trying to make the atmosphere of whale watching visible for a lot more interested people.
I had a beautiful time again in Húsavík and out in the bay with all these whales and birds. But also I enjoyed being connected on land with a lot of locals as well as people from foreign countries. During the summertime Húsavík is getting always international, so it´s perfect to share experiences, impressions and celebrating moments with so different people coming mainly from Europe, but also from countries all over the world.
Schooner Haukur, the boat that Martin went out on during his first
summer as an assistant
After being in Húsavik from the beginning of August until the end of September I decided to discover also the icelandic wintertime and I went to Reykjavik for the next three months. It was quite interesting, a bit cold and grey, but especially very, very busy. Instead of being calm, I got into this flow of working all days and nights. It was really good to earn some money, but after spending almost all my time on non-stop working shifts, I stopped and returned back to Germany to focus on other important things in my life.
The months earlier this year have been full of producing movie projects in Spain, Germany and Poland. I was working and having fun with always different teams and finally we were successful in finishing all our aims and jobs. I was prepared and motivated for the next summer season in Húsavík. So here I am!
Back in the european capital of whale watching. Before I arrived in Akureyri I felt again like coming back home while marveling the snow covered mountains and the empty valleys through the window of the airplane. It was too nice and I was looking forward to meet again all the North Sailing crew members and the whales.
This year I`m employed to work as an official whale watching guide, but also I´m always with the camera to catch some spectacular moments out on Skjàlfandi Bay. Until now me and a lot of passengers have seen minke whales, blue whales, humpback whales, harbour porpoises and larger groups of white beaked dolphins. I think, these moments were amazing and enjoyable for all passengers and even for me it`s still incredible to see these huge mammals over and over again.
Martin capturing the whales with his video camera
I`m glad to have the chance again to live and work in and around Húsavík this summer 2008. Hopefully it will be as informative and favourable as the last two summer seasons have been already. I will find out … and it`s more than possible that I will spend the same time at the same place again next year in 2009.