Garðar BA 64- Oldest Steel Ship in Iceland

Garðar BA 64 is a steel ship that sits on the shoreline at Patreksfjörður in Westfjords slowly rusting away. She is a short distance from the high tide line and escapes most of the winter storms that pound this Icelandic coastline. The colours and rust on her paintwork makes her a fantastic photography location.

Gardar BA64 shipwreck on the beach in Iceland

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The Story of Garðar BA 64

Launched in 1912, the same year as the Titanic sank to the bottom of the Atlantic, Globe IV is the oldest steel ship to remain in Iceland.

Originally a Norwegian whaling vessel, she had a reinforced hull to break through ice and a steam engine designed to allow her to sail when the seas were calm and traditional sails were useless.

With a colourful past she came to Iceland after World War II and was converted into a boat for herring fishing as whaling restrictions intensified and made it less viable. Given the Icelandic name Siglunes SI 89 her old steam engine was replaced with a modern diesel engine and she found a number of owners. In 1963 she was renamed Garðar BA 64.

Finally in 1981 her time was up. She was unsafe for service and was runaground onto a shallow shingle beach in the Skápadalur Valley in the Westfjords of Iceland.

Today she is a sorry sight. Here beautiful red outer layer is rusting, pieces dropping away with each storm. The timber beneath is dry and disintegrating knot by knot. She is a challenge to those defying the rules and signs, a play thing of the young and rebellious who don’t believe her eventual collapse will happen while they are exploring her holds and superstructure.

Photography Notes

  • Garðar BA 64 is perfect for photography. She can be busy but most people stop for photographs and move on. First thing in the morning was perfect with the sun rising behind the mountains illuminating her well.
  • In May the sunsets directly behind her making for fantastic sunset shots and she works well with aurora in the background in the winter months.
  • Don’t just look at the stunning big picture. Take time to explore the patterns in the rust and the textures in her outer layer.
  • Take care and follow the signs about not entering her, however good the photography may be.

Tips for Visiting

  • Avoid peak times. Come early or late in the day
  • Most people just stop for a few minutes but planning to use the picnic tables nearby means you can stay and wait for others to carry on along the coast
  • Explore the pebble shoreline as it has beautiful marine including seaweeds, shells and crabs

Getting to Garðar BA 64 and Skápadalur Valley

Garðar BA 64 is easy to find on the main 612 towards the Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs. She sits on the shore of Patreksfjörður with a large parking area. The 612 is easily reach from road 62 which links Brjánslækur ferry from Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Patreksfjörður in the Westfjords. Beyond Garðar BA 64 the road deteriorates and with anywhere in the Westfjords distances take longer to drive than expected.

If this corner of Westfjords is intriguing but seems too much driving, then this day tour will take you to all the places on roads 612 and 614. Someone else will drive the passes for you and negotiate the coaches on the tiny mountain roads while you enjoy the experience. This includes visiting Garðar BA 64.

Places to Visit near Garðar BA 64