Get up close to whales with Iceland’s first tranquil electric boat tours
Whale watching can be a magical experience. There are few animal experiences that can match watching a whale breach or a breeze with a curious calf. However, whale watching boat tours, like many other activities, are not environmentally neutral. Standard fuel engines produce carbon dioxide emissions. The noise from these engines can also disrupt local ecosystems, including whales. An Icelandic family-owned whale watching business has the answer: silent electric boats. North Sailing from Húsavík in northern Iceland offers carbon neutral tours on their beautifully equipped electric boats that tourists and whales alike seem to enjoy.
Founded in 1995, North Sailing changed the way Húsavík approached local whales. Iceland has a history of whaling, but North Sailing wanted to take a gentle approach to appreciate the large creatures that inhabit Skjálfandi Bay. These species include blue whales, fin whales, humpback whales, and minke whales, as well as white-beaked dolphins. Other species make appearances like sperm whales and puffins. North Sailing Tours were one of the first whale watching tours to be offered in Iceland and helped refocus whales into friends and not food. Today, around 100,000 tourists visit Húsavík each year to see sea creatures.
Although the company has always been environmentally conscious, North Sailing decided to create their first silent electric boat six years ago. The team converted their antique 1951 schooner named Opal into an electric motor that uses Iceland’s supply of fully renewable hydroelectric and geothermal energy. This adaptation gave the sailboat two carbon neutral options: sails when it’s windy and a clean engine on calm days. Since that first foray into clean energy boats, North Sailing has also converted a traditional oak wood boat named Andvari. The Nordic name Andvari means “a silent breeze that glides silently through the air”.
The silent whale watching tours aboard Opal and Andvari have been a hit with tourists and, it seems, whales. Phoebe Smith reported for The Guardian on his own experiences on ships: “I noticed that the whales seemed to linger longer next to ours [the boat]. “This could be very true, as scientists have noted that whales seem to prefer calm waters. Smith noted that the captain reported fewer headaches with the silent boats. The cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate put back on the way back also provide a perfect ending to the experience.
North Sailing has a fleet of older boats in addition to their silent electric options. Whether you choose the Original or the Silent Whale Watching, you will find yourself encountering the beauty of Icelandic waters and its curious inhabitants. Whichever boat you take, know that the company is dedicated to carbon offsetting through the Kolviður — Icelandic Carbon Fund. So far, they are responsible for planting 15,000 trees. The company has even offered its innovative plans for its eco-friendly ships to other whale-watching companies, which hopefully will make similar changes in the future. North Sailing really thinks about whales and the future of ecotourism.
North Sailing has Iceland’s only whale watching tour boats powered by renewable energy.
The Icelandic company of Húsavík was the first whale watching company in Iceland.
Opal and Andvari are the names of the two electrically powered boats from the fleet of antique schooners and fishing boats used by the company.
It seems that whales enjoy silent tours, as whales seem to prefer calm waters.
North Sailing offers many circuits to get you closer to nature!
h / t: [The Guardian]