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Journal of a Seaplane Cruise Around The World
Part One: The Atlantic Ocean

Friday, August 31 - Angmagssalik to Reykjavik

Angmagssalik to Reykjavik (Writing in the Raykjavik Harbor, while Shell men fuel the ship. Bob busy with a scrub brush; - says that prunes are awfully hard to remove).

Upon leaving Angmagssalik, we headed straight out on the course we knew from yesterday, across the southern tip of the islands over which we were lost two days ago. I was stupid at first, and had the compass parallel-line circle backwards as in the diagram. The arrow being the compass and the circle the movable dial, so we were 200 off at the start, but it soon corrected. Clouds appeared quickly, and I took the choice of staying low and having drift indications, instead of going high to be in sunlight. Low it was, soon to 150 feet and even less. We passed beyond the ice, but for a long way big icebergs loomed out of the mist, their tops in the clouds. It rained a good deal, making the windshield practically opaque, so there was much instrument work. Could see the water out the side windows most of the time, but it was a poor sight, with 20-30 foot waves breaking below us, crashing over icebergs in huge cascades, and acting as though we were food for a hungry monster. Sometimes I was afraid the larger waves would catch the antenna weight, and we have already lost one when Bob forgot to reel it in at Julianehaabe. There was not altitude enough to risk switching the fuel tanks, so I ran on the wings in preference to the floats. It was extremely rough, and I fought the stick till my back ached, but two cushions behind were too much, for they made the instruments hard to read. Cursed a little and ate cheese, and Bob tossed his lunch out the back window. It would have been a relief to have pushed up into the clouds and use the smooth air above, or perhaps we might even have gotten above the storm, but the drift was varying from -16 to -30 degrees, and we had to know exactly what it was. One thing was disconcerting: The Human compass had two positions about 12° apart! It swung from one to the other, in the bumpy air. I have found it to stay more in the counter-clock-wise position, so have taken to reading this. It gives an error to the left, but we have come out safely so far.

Radio stayed good, and the intertelephone system made communication perfect, for I could ask Bob for weather at Reykjavik, and without turning my head he would give it to me in 2 or 3 minutes. I listened in on most of the code passed back and forth, and knew that he was talking with OZL or TFA a good part of the time. Dictated a few messages to him, which he sent to the Ibsens, Ibaek, Dr. Charcot, and the radio operator. After three hours the ceiling raised to 500 feet, and we felt better. Could then read some of the log, but did not dare write any notes. Finally - and I honestly don't know how long it was -- a faint light streak appeared ahead and to the left; the sun was touching the surface of our cloud layer. We had not had a single sun observation to check the compasses, so I pulled up through the clouds, and at 2000' came out in the clear. Quickly set the gyro by the pelorus, and as we finished this the clouds below began to fade away. Thus ended one of the wildest storms I have ever encountered.

Soon a thin dark line appeared ahead, the coast of Iceland. We saw a snowcapped point, and Bob found out from TFA that it was "Snaefell's Jokull", our goal on this leg of the flight; calculations showed it to be 45 miles to the right, so we had made a 6° error to the left. Self-esteem was so low at this point that I was glad to see it anywhere. Have now examined the weather map of yesterday, and can realize why we had a head wind even after turning south.

It was a long stretch in. Both floats ran dry, the left wing, and finally gas disappeared from the sight gage on the right! I turned toward shore, and soon reached a town. Neither of us could be sure that it was Reykjavik, but decided it could be nothing else. Just for old time's sake, I made a spot landing to a buoy, cutting the switch on the step, as Bob jumped out to moor; only it wasn't a buoy, but a paper bag: -- and it wasn't Reykjavik, but Akranaes!!! A frock-coated delegation put out a boat, and said "Welcome to Iceland - are you going to Reykjavik?" My dull wits burped to life to say, Yes, how far is it?" -- Answer: "Twelve miles".

We landed at Reykjavik with only 3 or 4 gallons of gas, (about 10 minutes of flying!) after seven hours in the air. Nice harbor, breakwall all around. Taxied toward the nearest buoy, but the harbor master's boat put out, and led us to a deserted corner of the harbor, where better protection was afforded. Moored, unpacked, and transferred our junk to the harbor-master's boat, which stood like a great patient elephant six inches from the front end of the float.

There was a big crowd on shore, which we drove through in a two block ride to Hotel Borg. A woman reporter was waiting in the lobby, and explained that her broadcast went on in 20 minutes, and asked for a brief account of the trip. I said it was a pleasure cruise, like riding in an automobile. - Yes, good weather . . . .

Our first bath since New Haven, no kidding! I did pretty well in a sponge way at the Isben's, but Bob seemed to like the wool underwear as long as we were in Greenland, and it was a close friend! Dinner in the hotel, and early to bed.

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