Gabriel Nivera
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Pictures & Conversations

A collection of images and the stories behind their creation.

Bjarti Petersen

Koltur, Stremoy, Vagar, Sandoy

One of the most anticipated days of my project in the Faroe Islands was the day we would spend with Bjarti Petersen.  I was really keen to find a way to show the connection that people have with the sea.  With very little natural resources on the actual land, many people make their living in the maritime industries.  I was hoping to find a old sea captain, with a cable knit sweater, pipe, and a faded yellow anorak - but I suppose I got that when I was in Cadgewith earlier this year and met Nigel Legge.  After watching the weather for a few days, we finally settled on a day where the seas would be calm enough to go island hoping.

Bjarti picked us up in a "zodiac-type" speedboat on steroids and we headed off towards the Island of Sandoy to our dive spot.  When chatting with Bjarti about what I wanted to see and do on the day, I said, "Take me to your secret spots, I don't want to go where other tourists have been, the more remote the better."  Bjarti did just that, we pulled into a tiny cove carefully tied off the boat to the cliff wall, the dive would be to a small cave between two massive cliffs.  The waters were filled with jellyfish, that like the protection that the cliff walls provide from the strong currents.  Bjarti swam through them and held a couple up for close inspection.  

After our dive we enjoyed a lunch on the cliff, Bjarti brought Tvøst og spik which is a traditional Faroese dish for special occasions consisting of pilot whale meat, blubber, steamed potato, and dried fish.  We washed that all down with a few beers and a couple swigs of scotch that we brought along. Bjarti told us that he recently completed a his 3 year shipmaster course at Vinnuháskúlin, the maritime training center.  He wants to work on a ship during the months he isn't diving, and eventually become a captain.  After lunch we got back on the boat and sailed around the coast of Sandoy,  Bjarti took us into massive caves and grottos that were too dark to photograph, but incredibly immense.  We admired the sea cliffs, which I did not know at the time are among the tallest in all of Europe.

After a couple hours going between the islands, we decided to stop on the island of Koltur, that is home to just two people; a farmer and his wife.  We rested on the white sand beach, and Bjarti pulled out a few sea urchins and mahogany clams, the seafood that he supplies to Torshavn's top restaurant Koks, which was recently awarded it's first Michelin Star. The sea urchin had a creamy buttery texture with a sweet flavour, with a briney finish - you would pay top dollar for that in any city, but we had a net full just for us.  We cracked open more sea urchins, clams, and more beers and chatted away.  Bjarti told us how happy he is to be living so close to the sea and nature; and that growing up on the Faroe Islands was a great experience.  It's where he learned to love the ocean, to fish, sail, dive, and hunt - and where he will will raise his family - Bjarti let me in on the good news that he is expecting his first child, a daughter.  He shared her name with me, which I promised not to tell, as by Faroese tradition you don't announce the name publicly until after the christening.  

As we made our way back to the harbour, I looked at my watch and realized we had spent a good 9 hours on the sea.  It hardly felt like that.  I was able to see parts of the Faroe Islands that even many locals have never been to, much less other tourists, this day had exceeded all my expectations.