Guðni's Quest

Updated: May 16

Authored by Dave Forcucci

It was a nice day for a boat ride and Guðni Hrafn Pétursson Olsen was heading out to the Westfjords on a mission. His Uncles have a house on a remote stretch of beach that was abandoned back in the mid sixties due to unusually severe ice conditions. Now they use the house seasonally during the summer months. One of his uncles had the day off from fishing cod and invited Guðni, an expert hunter, to pay a visit and hunt mink. The mink are invasive and will prey on the protected Eider ducks whose nests have provided down to a thriving eiderdown industry for centuries: Click here for video on Eider down. Guðni was enthusiastic about the task ahead but what was he really hunting for that day?

Guðni snaps a photo from his uncle's boat of the Drangaskörð rock formation jutting out from the Skarðafjall mountain.
Guðni snaps a photo from his uncle's boat of the Drangaskörð rock formation jutting out from the Skarðafjall mountain. Photo by Guðni Hrafn Pétursson Olsen

Guðni’s uncle’s house perched at the base of Skarðafjall mountain.
Guðni’s uncle’s house perched at the base of Skarðafjall mountain. His uncle lived here until he was fourteen. Photo by Guðni Hrafn Pétursson Olsen

Back in August 2020 Guðni had found a Float Your Boat in the Westfjords region of Iceland and since then he has become an ambassador for the program. And incredibly enough, has reported four additional boats that were found by friends and family along that same coast.

Boat “one”
Boat “one” from the window sill, found by a family member on an adjacent beach. The position of the brand on the knot and the wood grain ^ just aft of the brand pointing toward the stern of the boat were used to identify it. Photo by Guðni Hrafn Pétursson Olsen

Guðni’s holds Boat “two”
Guðni’s holds Boat “two” from the window sill. The port side knot, position of the brand and the arched wood grain on the starboard aft thwarts provided positive ID. Photo by Guðni Hrafn Pétursson Olsen

A year after he found his boat, he was visiting his grandfather and discovered that a boat, which was displayed on a side table, had been found by his uncle at least a year before Guðni found his.

This is where Guðni discovered the boats in his uncle’s house on May 8, 2022.
This is where Guðni discovered the boats in his uncle’s house on May 8, 2022. First thing he did was take a photo because he knew I would ask him for one! Photo by Guðni Hrafn Pétursson Olsen

Both boats came from Box 4 which was deployed at the positing 85N 150W on September 15, 2015 from the US Icebreaker Healy. The boats were found on the same stretch of Munaðarnes coast within a few miles from each other.

The beach adjacent to the house is strewn with driftwood.
The beach adjacent to the house is strewn with driftwood. It would take a keen eye to pick out a toy wood boat. Photo by Guðni Hrafn Pétursson Olsen

Then in February 2022 Guðni got a call from a friend who was walking his dog, Blíða, along another stretch of beach on the Westfjords near Reykjaneshyrna. Thomas Cedric and Delphine had known about Float Your Boat from Guðni prior to finding the boat and knew just who to call. It seems unfathomable that after this, yet another boat discovery would be connected to Guðni.


As his uncle navigated past the Drangaskörð, the ghosts were probably snickering about what was in store for Guðni visit. I can only imagine what was on Guðni's mind as they landed ashore. Was he scoping every inch of beach in sight for toy wood boats? Probably? Had he imagined discovering a boat sitting on the side table in his uncle's house? I can only imagine his reaction when he found not one but TWO boats on the window sill! His Uncle could not recall who had found them but it didn’t matter, the stamps and the wood grain were traced back to Box 3 deployed with Box 4. Not only were the two boats in the same box but they were next to each other and actually touching each other. How they managed to find their way, together, to the same beach can only be imagined.


Back in 2015 as Healy pulled away from the boxes of boats left behind on a lonely expanse of sea ice, no one could ever imagine seeing the boats again. With a dozen boats reported and a number of fun stories behind their discovery we wait with anticipation for what’s to come next for Float Your Boat.

Cardboard boxes of wooden boats deployed
Box 3 and Box 4 filled with wooden boats along with the International Arctic Buoy Programme's observation buoy sit next to the icebreaker Healy in 2015. Photo by Bill Schmoker

Wooden boats deployed on the sea ice by the Healy icebreaker in 2015
Boxes 3 & 4 left behind on the starc but beautiful icescape in 2015 at 85N 150W. Photo by Bill Schmoker

The two boats packed next to each other in Box 3
The two boats packed next to each other in Box 3 to be loaded on the Healy in June 2015 for the Geotraces science expedition. Photo by Dave Forcucci





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