Home Visit to Iceland The pilot boat "Björn lóðs"

The pilot boat "Björn lóðs"

The pilot boat The boat Björn lóðs is used to pilot the ships that come to our harbor; it is also used to measure the depth of the sea on the inside of the port. Sometimes it is given the task of towing boats and barges, even from other docks in Iceland. It is also used for passenger travel and maintenance of the dock.

The use of Björn lóðs varies, sometimes is has to be used daily for a long time, but normally it is in use every third day of the year. The boat has been here for twenty years. Four people work on board the boat and no less than two men have to be on board at any time when it is in use.

The channel boats use to get to the harbor of Höfn is quite dangerous, it is rather shallow and it limits the size of ships that can get to port, but generally large ships can be piloted into the harbor. Sometimes the canal becomes too rough for ships and they are incapable of entering. Several big breakwaters have been built of stone to protect the harbor and making sailing into the harbor as even as possible from year to year. When a crew member of Björn Lóðs was asked whether being on a board the pilot boat is hard work he said that at times it can be very difficult, not so much physically but mentally and it can be very tedious at times. The shift often covers more than 24 hours and often they work for 14-18 hours. It can also be difficult to pilot in bad weather and then it can get physically difficult.
The crew of the pilot boat as employees of the harbor, also have to handle processing of electricity and water for the town, weighing all the catch that comes ashore in Höfn. The job also includes helping ships repair hoses, docks, piers, and pretty much everything port related, removal of scrap and cleaning of the piers. They weigh the salt and meal that is being either disembarked or on its way on board transport ships destined to other countries.

They also need to be on call to take care of utility systems in water, sewer pumps, and system connected to the swimming pool. The requirement for this work is master’s license for operation of ships and same for engines and to have taken the required courses of fishermen accident prevention school, and need to be familiar with the place.
The ships that sail to and from the harbor of Höfn using the Ós channel are mostly fishing boats from Höfn. More ships arrive every year e.g. 80 freighters and about 7 sailboats, but these numbers just cover ships that did not arrive loaded with fish.

Written by Lukka and Sólveig