A Dutch tourist exposed himself to significant danger when he rowed his kayak from Breiðavík towards the bird cliff Látrabjarg in the southern West Fjords on Sunday. A storm hit, beating the kayak against a rocky shore and breaking it.
Látrabjarg. Photo by Páll Kjartansson.
The kayaker managed to reach land in Seljavík, an inlet next to Látrabjarg. Þröstur Reynisson, ranger at Látrabjarg, told Fréttablaðið that sudden death had awaited him if his kayak had drifted in front of the bird cliff.
The kayaker had rowed off from a sandy beach at around 5 pm on Sunday when the weather was still calm. However, shortly afterwards a storm picked up.
No one knew about the man’s travels until a couple noticed him by coincidence and saw him row in dubious weather towards Látraröst, which is one of the country’s most dangerous sailing routes. They immediately called emergency services.
The police in Patreksfjörður contacted Þröstur at 9:30 pm, who at the time was stationed at Breiðavík. He immediately drove towards Látrabjarg (which is also known as Bjargtangar).
“When I was about one kilometer away from Bjargtangar I saw [the kayaker] pull his things and boat onto the beach, having broken the boat on a rocky beach,” Þröstur said, adding that the man was still in good spirits. “He had been wondering where to camp.”
“The couple […] who had noticed him were very relieved, as was I, to find him alive. But if they hadn’t seen him no one would have known about his travels because the kayak he had was a lino boat which can be folded into a bag […] and therefore no one had heard about a kayaker being in the area,” Þröstur explained.
“I simply told him that this is something people don’t do, to embark on such a journey without notifying anyone. I’d hate to find only bones if things go bad,” Þröstur lectured.
It was the tourist’s first day on a tour of the West Fjords. “I gave him a lift to a bus bound for Ísafjörður and told him that he can rent a kayak by Djúpið because he won’t go any further on the lino boat,” Þröstur concluded.
Látrabjarg, which marks the westernmost part of Europe (excluding the Azores), is the continent’s largest bird cliff. It is 14 kilometers long and 440 meters high.
To learn about how to travel in Iceland safely, visit safetravel.is.