Tóti was flying to Vestmannaeyjar and Bakki for some work, doing some further training for some air traffic controllers out there, and asked if I wanted to come along for the ride. We would fly out, and I could walk around the main island of Heimaey for the day, and then we'd fly home. Hell Yeah!
We flew out there in a Socata tb200, tf-max, which was quite a nice little plane. Hafţor says it's a little sports car compared to a cessna. It had snowed lightly the night before, but was clearing up rapidly that day, so we got some lovely views as we flew along the south coast. Beautiful patterns in the water at the mouths of rivers, and then flying into the Vestmann's themselves. Fun approach, you fly in obliquely to the runway, and then turn right ontop of the runway to lineup and touchdown. Apparrently there's a lot of turbulence over the end of the runway, as it runs right up to the cliff at the edge of the island.
Tóti dropped me off, and flew over to Bakki, (about 5 minutes flight) and I spent the morning walking up Eldfell. This was a volcano that erupted in 1973, forced an evacuation of the island, and nearly engulfed their harbour. This is where the famous man vs nature battle took place, and man won. All available boats were mustered to pump sea water straight onto the lava. Through either fate or skill, the lava stopped, and the harbour is now even better than before with more protection. The cone still has some spots that steam lightly, and putting a hand on the ground you can feel that it has some inner warmth, but not much. There's no boiling pool of lava in the bottom or anything.
Walked down and around the north edge of the lava field, past the lava garden that the villagers care for, a little spot of green out in the lava field, and then down into the harbour. Which as I'd been told is obviously a shadow of its former self. Fishing in iceland has gone upscale, with factory boats, and freezing at sea, so there's simply not as much need for the dockside industry that once existed. Heimaey used to house the bulk of the icelandic fishing fleet.
Met up with Tóti after lunch, and we had a look at where the kids practise swing on ropes to collect puffin eggs. Spranga, they call it. Australian kids aren't afraid to do big rope swings, but it's always been over a creek. This is just climbing up a cliff, and doing rope swings sideways along the cliff, wearing the rope out as you go, on a length of rope just tied to a protusions of rock. Pretty nuts. But it's what they do. In Puffin season, each group of islanders has their own offshore island they go to, climb up, and stay in a cabin on the island, hunting puffins for a week or so. Lots of swinging around on ropes lowered over the cliff edges.
I didn't get to see any puffins of course. I was a few weeks to early. They are all still out at sea. So I'll have to return to somewhere later in the year. Still, it was a beautiful day. The grass is turning green, and the sky was blue. The sea was blue. Lovely.