By: George Weddle
We arrived at Keflavik Airport at 10:00 am (Iceland Time) and met our host for the next two weeks, Andrea Atladottir and Stefan Ludviksson.
We were taken to Stefan's parents Lulli and Nina home. We were made to feel very welcome and we had this delicious brunch. Late in the day we took the Ferry to Vestmannaeyjar. The beauty was unlimited. 18 years ago we were blessed with an exchange student through AFS. Her name is Andrea Atladottir and this is who we would be staying with. We consider her our daughter and her family our family.
I was taken on a tour in a motorized rubber boat of the harbour and got to see a Hugh cave sea cave with various types of sea birds nesting on the ledges just barely wide enough for the birds to sit on. We came out of the harbor and turned left and followed the cliffs to the west end of Heimaey where we found the world's largest elephant head, and toured some sea caves at Near by islands.
During our stay, I had the pleasure of playing golf 5 times on a very special and excellent 18 hold golf course with one of the finest golfers I have ever played with. Atli Adalsteinsson, Andrea's father. We had planed on teeing off at Midnight and playing 18 holes, but it did not work out, maybe next time.
One of the memorable adventures I had while in Iceland was to spend a night and try and hand at catching Puffins on Ellifaey Island. Ivar being a member of the Ellifaey Island Puffin Club and one of Iceland's finest Puffin Catchers (so he claims), invited me to spend a night.
We left for Elliðaey on a wood boat that was about 7m. long and reminded me of a small tug boat. There were six on the boat. We arrived on the west side of the island that was a shear cliff of 75 to 100 miters high. When the boat came to a stop, I ask what are we doing and they pointed up and I saw a metal basket descending down towards the boat. My first reaction was is this how we get on the island! They all had a good laugh and told me this is how they get luggage and supplies up to the top where the lodge was located and we would get off on the other side of the island. When we arrived on the other side where I expected to find a dock that we could tie up to and step off the boat. When I asked where the dock was they pointed to a large rock that was about 2 meters above the water. That was had to jump from the boat onto the rock. This would be fine if the boast was not bobbing up and down in the surf. The captain put the boat as close as he could without hitting the rock. The first guy got up on the front part of the boat and when the boat bobbed up; he took 2 steps and jumped to the rock without a problem. It was finally my turn to make the jump and they assured me they would grab me so I would not fall into the water. I made the jump long and dry. It took approx. ½ hour to walk to the lodge. This was very nice with a large kitchen and living room that would accommodate 20 people. Upstairs they had a large room with approx. 20 single beds. After we had lunch Ivar took Stefan and I out to one of the places that they had caught (Approx 100) Puffins the day before. We tied the Puffins in groups of five then we tired two groups together with ½ m twine. Ivar said later a boat would come and they would throw the puffins off the cliff into the sea and the guys on the boat would retrieve the Puffins and take them to be cleaned.
Latter that day after dinner, the guy gathered in the living room to tell stories and sing songs. At 10 pm I went to bed thinking that we would be up early to catch Puffins. At 6 am I was up and ready to go, but no one was up. I fixed some coffee and had a bowl of cereal. At 7 am Stefan was up, 11 am Ivar was up. He said that did not get to bed until 4 am. He also said it did not matter what time you tried to catch Puffins as the Puffins would fly more when it was windy than when it was calm.
The tree of us went out to the cliffs. The Puffins have their nest in the ground close to the edge of the cliffs. Ivar said he would show us how to catch the Puffins with the long pole with a net stretched between a wishbone shaped brackets. He tied a rope around his waist and descended down to the edge of the cliff and sat down in a low area. Soon a Puffin appeared flying by about 3-4 meters off the ground. Ivar quickly raised the net towards the Puffin and got tangled in the net. After he caught about six he told me to give it a try. I tied the rope around my waist and made it down to the low area and waited for the Puffins to fly by. I missed my first f4 or 5 tries because I was to slow with the net. The Puffins were seeing the net coming up and were able to avoid the net. Finally I caught my first Puffin and ended up catching 5. After Stefan had his turn it was time to pick up our things at the lodge and meet out boat. Our boat was a motorized rubber boat. It was easier getting in the boat from the rock then getting from the boat to the rock.