Whaling Boat Given New Life Whale Watching
A sunken whale hunting boat is being refurbished into an eco-friendly whale watching vessel in Iceland by tour operator North Sailing.
The company offers daily whale watching tours from Húsavík and is expanding its operations to include the vessel which is being restored at a local shipyard.
The vessel was once used by whale hunters and sank in Sandgerdi harbour some years ago.
The restored wooden boat will be launched and ready for whale watching activities as of July 1. This ninth ship in North Sailing’s fleet will become one of the world’s eco-friendliest whale watching vessels, entirely battery run and charged with Iceland’s green land-based electricity.
According to Gústaf Gústafsson, a Director of the company, passengers are also being offered the chance to visit the shipyard to view the restoration process.
Since 1994 North Sailing has carefully restored six historic, Icelandic wooden vessels, and subsequently taken a leading role in the preservation of a vital part of Icelandic coastal culture.
Carbon Free Whale Watching
In 2015, North Sailing became the first whale watching company in the world to offer carbon free whale watching. In cooperation with some other actors, North Sailing has developed a unique hybrid propulsion system that allows running the ship on renewable energy instead of fossil fuel. Schooner Opal was converted to run on this system and was launched on July 12 last year by the Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson.
During three to four hour whale watching tours, Opal runs on electricity from batteries, which in turn are charged in harbour by green renewable energy from the Icelandic energy grid. In close contact with whales, and with little wind, only electricity is used for propulsion.
When sailing the ship, the propeller functions as a turbine to produce electricity for the batteries. This electricity is used for both propulsion and for running the equipment on board.
In longer tours, electricity can be produced with generators or windpower.
North Sailing aims to convert all its whale watching ship to carbon-free vessels, based on the experience from the Opal project.