Boats & Harbours03
Photo gallery
Photo gallery
Fishing boats in Hsavk harbour Harbour approach Hfn Fishing boats at Hfn Slfar Reykjavk Djpivogur harbour02


Air dried fish

There are many harbours and safe havens around Iceland’s rocky coast. Some of these communities are quite isolated; most are dedicated to fishing and fish processing. But it has not always been so. In earlier times, fishing was a seasonal occupation. Farmers would leave the land in January and February and set up temporary encampments on the coast.

At this time of year, cod migrate into shallow waters to spawn and could be caught on hand held lines from little rowing boats launched from shingle beaches. The weather was cold and the fish could be air-dried without risk of spoiling. As summer approached, the men returned to work the land and fishing settlements were abandoned. 

Herring museum Siglufjrur

Although Iceland had become a significant exporter of fish and fish oil by the 14th century, fishing remained a seasonal activity. In fact, no permanent fishing settlements were established until the 19th century.

Fishing boat near Savk

Rowing boats gave way to clinker built fishing smacks and in recent years, large deep sea trawlers populate the harbours. However, many of the old boats have been preserved. A fine example of an old rowing boat can be seen at the folk museum at Skgar and a herring boat at the herring museum in Siglufjrur.

Images of Iceland’s Boats and Harbours