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Chronicles Of A Trip To The Land Of Fire and Ice, Making Every Second Count With Luminox

Iceland, the closest you'll get to walking Mars without ever leaving Earth. A Nordic island nation located in the North Atlantic Ocean, Iceland is renowned for its lava fields and volcanoes, hot springs and geysers, and enormous glaciers.

By Liam O'Donnell

A deep sense of community and patriotism is evident in Iceland, with many of its people volunteering their time to perform civic duties. One of these civic associations is the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR), the focus of our trip to Reykjavík with Luminox.

Luminox's Iceland Media Trip brought together numerous journalists from around the world to experience the history of ICE-SAR, learn how they prepare for rescuing in any environment, and participate in some of their regular drills. The volunteers of ICE-SAR are always in a state of readiness, eager to answer any distress call.

To pay tribute to the search and rescue personnel of ICE-SAR, Luminox has created a limited-edition watch. Designed to withstand even the most hazardous environments, this watch will aid rescuers and watch enthusiasts alike.

A notable feature is the sealed tritium tubes making up the dial indicators, guaranteed to glow brightly no matter the light source for 25 years. Despite Tritium being a radioactive material, its size and application here render it benign. The blue textured dial contrasts with the red hands for increased visibility and also displays Iceland's emergency number on the 12 o'clock position.

Powered by a highly precise quartz movement, the watch will remain highly accurate during its lifetime and require little to no servicing. This limited edition and regular editions will be available from Luminox directly, and their authorized dealers.

Day 1

Our trip began upon touchdown at Keflavik International Airport, where Luminox greeted us and drove us to our hotel in Reykjavík to briefly get settled before heading to the ICE-SAR Safety & Maritime Training Centre. We were given a tour of their ship, Sæbjörg, which was manufactured in 1974 by Trondhjems Mekaniske Verksted and donated to ICE-SAR in 1998 by the government of Iceland. Sæbjörg is now the dedicated training center for ICE-SAR and features a fully equipped training facility onboard, both for academic and vocational training.

After our tour, we listened to guest speaker Alex Hibbert, a British polar explorer, author, and Luminox Ambassador, recount some of his most grueling expeditions across some of the world’s most inhospitable tundra. Listening to Alex's incredible stories, it was clear why Luminox chose him as an ambassador, and truly why “every second counts” during his arduous journeys.

Day 2

Unfortunately, due to the inclement weather, the planned expedition to the ICE-SAR Rescue Station in Hella and the glacier Eyjafjallajökull was canceled. Instead, we accompanied the ICE-SAR team out into the bay of Reykjavík to observe live rescue and survival drill with a crew from a local ship. According to national law, it is mandatory for anyone who serves as a crew member on a boat in Iceland to attend these training drills.

Once out in the bay with the ICE-SAR team and the crew ready for rescue, a Super Puma helicopter was hovering above us ready to hoist crew members out of the water and off a boat into the rescue helicopter. Strong winds were jostling the helicopter in the air, and causing our boats to heave in the surf. Whilst this would have been challenging for most pilots and captains, this was no challenge for the experienced and well-drilled crew of ICE-SAR, who aptly demonstrated their focus and precision.

The final segment of our day was an off-road journey on quad bikes along the lava fields on the coastline of Grindavik. Our route covered black sandy lanes on the Reykjanes Peninsula, where we saw shipwrecks, old lava fields, and the Hópsnesviti Lighthouse. Once we had completed our ATV ride, we returned to ICE-SAR HQ in Grindavik for a warm, hearty meal with the team.

Day 3

Every year for the last fourteen years, an international search and rescue conference is held in Iceland. Search and rescue specialists from all around the world attend the conference to listen to lectures from guest speakers, participate in a variety of rescue related courses, watch live demonstrations of state-of-the-art rescue equipment and network with fellow search and rescuers.

This year's special guest was Rick Stanton, one of the British divers who planned and performed the cave rescue of the Thai soccer team during the summer of 2018. Rick gave his recount of the maelstrom of events leading up to, during, and after the rescue. Rick’s story about the heroism, determination, and ingenuity displayed by all involved deeply moved the audience, who gave him a rousing standing ovation at the conclusion of his talk.

Thanks to Luminox and ICE-SAR, we were able to experience Iceland in an incredibly unique way that truly made every second of our journey count.

(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)

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