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

Monday, September 3 - Bad Weather Morning

Angmagssalik to Reykjavik Perhaps I was in error in ever starting off today. The weather maps on the Maggen showed an intense depression approaching the northern tip of Iceland, but after examining the charts carefully, I decided that we could go through to the Faroe Islands in clear weather. The Reykjavik Meteorological Bureau was closed yesterday, and we did not receive their report until early this morning. It was not very convincing either way, so I fell back on my interpretation of the weather map.

As it turned out the interpretation was not far wrong. We had good weather all the way out and only a light drizzle returning. The one thing that we could not count on was the local weather in the Faroe Islands, and we could only proceed on the hope that it would grow no worse than was indicated by the first radio contact made with Thorshavn. The messages give the story, and indicate as nothing else could, how valuable a part continuous communication plays in the formation of flying judgments. They suggest also that the average meteorologist does not interpret accurately the weather conditions for the pilot, because the 12:40 message reported "dense fog with a three-mile visibility" which of course, is impossible. The decision to turn back, however, was made suddenly, when the second float tank gave out and the motor stopped about 400 feet off the water. It startled us both into the realization that the wing tanks gave us a bare margin for returning, so that if we proceeded farther toward the Faroes and then found it impossible to get in, we should be unable to make Reykjavik. Our position was about 100 miles west of the Faroe Islands.

So soon as we learned that Seydisfjord was devoid of aviation fuel, I throttled back to about 1450 RPM and was just able to stretch the gasoline supply to Reykjavik. We flew for 55 minutes after the fuel had disappeared from the gauge in the right tank. At Reykjavik there was a strong northerly gale blowing, and the harbor was unsuitable for a landing. I went to the far side of the town and found a protected stretch of water, and also discovered that the Shell installation fronted on this inlet. In coming down I misjudged the strength of the wind, and also forgot that we were nearly a ton lighter than at take off, and so we very neatly floated across the inlet and landed literally on the beach, because when the plane settled down off the step it was aground. We poled off, but the wind was tremendous, and the plane was unmanageable in such close quarters. I shut the engine off and drifted backward for several hundred yards until we could taxi up wind to an anchorage.

We were both cold and tired after the nine-hour trip, but happily were invited aboard the Shell tanker which lay at the pier, to have tea with the skipper. Bob took a turn around the ship and discovered the radio room which was in the mate's cabin. They quickly formed a friendship, for they had the common grudge of being responsible for two jobs, radio and navigation.

Nobody had expected our return and the Hotel Borg porter, who had come down to the pier on some errand, jumped upon seeing us as though we were ghosts, and broke out angrily "Vat de Hell you doing here"! However, he was persuaded to give us a ride back to the hotel.

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