Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Olympic Traffic Restrictions

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Ha Ha Road Closed

Although I fully accept the need for certain traffic restrictions during the Olympics,

the thing that got my back up was the sheer pleasure the authorities took in making the road closures.

Vestmannaeyjar Islands

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Position N63,26 x W20,16. Heimaey Harbour. Calm
Well we made it, but only just. After we rounded Reykjanes Penisular the wind became light and we needed to motor to make any worthwhile progress. Gradually the wind increased and we were able to sail again but it was an easterly and the sea was more lumpy than you would expect from the lightish wind. Very slow progress was made. A forecast of easterly 18m/s came through on the Navtex for the local sea area. The wind and the sea increased until a very dark line of clouds started to approach just as our lamb diner was being served up. A squally force 6 to 7 hit us and we needed a couple of urgent deep reefs in the main. The sea got up and we were debating the possibility of running off south then heading to Scotland. Under the current conditions with large breaking waves a landfall would have been dangerous. I was pretty determined to get to the Westmann Islands so we opted to tack north towards the Iceland coast for two or three hours and see what happens. As we closed in on the dangerous indistinguishable south coast the wave conditions improved and Sumara made reasonable progress although our velocity made good was only about 1 knot. We plugged on through the night, tack after tack in wet and lumpy conditions until the wind eventually moderated slightly. The rocks around the Islands were now in sight and eventually we saw the lights of Heimaey Harbour between the two volcanoes. So long as the wind remained as it was we would be able to make landfall. After 39 hrs at sea and only a few hours sleep we moored up in Heimaey at 0500 rather wet and tired.
We grabbed a few hours sleep and went into the town for breakfast, which in my case was coffee and delicious but extravagant peppered monkfish, before climbing the brand new volcano.

On top of the still hot Fire Mountain “Eldell”

This was the famous one which erupted in 1973 and caused the whole island to be evacuated by a fleet of fishing boats and ferries. The lava flowed down into the sea and towards the town. Many of the houses were engulfed but the major worry was that the crucial harbour would be blocked.

Lava engulfs a house in Heimaey








The determined islanders found that by spraying the hot lava with sea water it cooled and solidified. Hundreds of large pumps were put into action and the harbour was saved. In fact the new land formed has made it an even safer harbour. The volcano erupted for five months covering the town with many metres of hot volcanic dust. Many believed the island would never be inhabitable again but the islanders were sure they could make it home again. With the help of volunteers from 19 countries they dug out the town, swept up, painted the houses and got back to work. 10% of the Icelandic fishing haul is from Heimaey so it is an important fishing centre. The people here really battle with nature. The south tip of the island is one of the windiest places in the world with only four calm days a year.
The top of the new volcano is still hot and steam ouzes out of the hillside. The view over the town is spectacular with the new land formed by lava clearly visible. After the climb Gudrun and I headed for the swimming pool and hot tub. Ray has sadly got a bit of a cold coming on and is trying to take things easy until it goes away.
We watched a volcano film in the evening!

Ray and Gudrun take coffee while everything dries out.


Beautiful Snaefellsjokull from Reykjanes Peninsular









Now it is 0800 on Sunday morning and the sun is out. I haven’t checked the weather forecast yet but we hope to set sail tonight after doing all the chores.

Going Like a Bat Out of Hell

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Position N66,57.43 x W007,25.2 Wind force 4-5 southerly.
We have had some great sailing maintaining a speed of around 6 knots. It is mighty rolly polly with the boom and yankee pole dipping alternately every few seconds. Occassionally Sumara does a mad death roll and everything flies around but it is great to be making rapid progress. Only 253nm to go to the waypoint. At this rate we will be there in a couple of days but I suspect the winds may ease off later tomorrow. (haven’t downloaded the grib yet). Thembi are out of radio contact and should be a long way ahead by now. It doesn’t look like we will need diesel but we are running out of bacon. Almost as serious a problem. We crossed into the arctic circle earlier today. It is raining and 8 degrees with a sea temperature of 6 degrees. As a lot of the time involves sitting in the cockpit with no movement to keep warm it is crucial to wear appropriate clothing. I have a pair of merinos on plus 3 pairs of Guy Cotten thermals under a Musto HPX oilskins and I’m as warm as toast. Sarah  gave me a pair of MOD issue arctic socks which work a treat.

Sent at 18.05 GMT Saturday 2nd July 2011

Magic Carpet Ride

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Position N65,08 x W006,57.

It is 1845 and it is curry night. I asked John what type of curry and he said “a nice curry”. We are sailing at 5kts bang on course through a calm sea with a little bit of sunshine. Soon we will make up time as the grib files (digital compressed weather information for sat phones) point to good south winds of 10-20kts for the next 36 hours. After that the wind looks like it will slacken off a bit. Just about perfect, no it is perfect!

PS. Just received email from Thembi. All is fine. Thembi Position is 65.22N x 007.40W. Just out of radio range ahead of Sumara.

Sent at 19.06 GMT on 1st July 2011

62,58.94N x 007,24.49W Speed 2.8 knots. Course north. Wind F2 West.

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Sumara set of at 0330 this morning and was followed later by Thembi. We have just heard from Thembi over the VHF and they have spotted us on the horizon. Thew wind has been fair for several hours and we have made a very pleasant run of about 40nm with air temperature of up to 20 degrees and sea at 9.2C. It is a good way to start a trip like like this while everyone settles down to the life at sea. John made a whacking great big pot of stew last night so that will be supper tonight too. We will download the weather grib in a few minutes. All is well. 492nm to the north tip of Jan Mayen.

Sent via satellite phone at 18.01 GMT on 29th June 2011 (blogged by Gerry)

Departure Imminent

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

As the winds are easing now we are thinking of sailing on the next tide at 2am with Thembi following the next day. We went for a fine walk out to the island point this afternoon where I asked everyone to pose for a photo looking miserable. I had completely forgotten that we had Dan with us who is incapable of being miserable so we had to take another picture with everyone being happy.

From tomorrow I will only be able to update the blog via the satelite phone to Gerry so things may go quiet for a few days. Next stop Jan Mayen!

Dan failing miserably to be miserable

Everyone Looking Happy! That's easy.


Not a Good Day for Sailing

Monday, June 27th, 2011

The View from Half Way Up

We woke to creaking lines, howling rigging and a harbour full of white horses and decided to stay put but use the time to climb the Faroes highest hill – Slattaratindur at 882m. As we didn’t have a map we decided to seek local advice. The girl in the supermarket said there are no paths, no cairns and its raining hard so don’t go. We asked her to point to the relevant hill which she kindly did. We thanked her and set off. I always like to seek out local advice. Not knowing any better we just clambered up past a reservoir and aimed for a steep gully to get us beyond a rocky ridge. It was blowing a full gale and was cold and wet with it. We stopped about ¾ of the way up for a bite to eat and slipped on our toasty belay jackets – brilliant things, light and super warm. We set off again to get to the top when, low and behold, we stumbled on a path! So there was a path after all. The summit affords views over the whole of the Faroes but not today, just mist and clouds sweeping by.
As we had now found the path the descent was quick and easy and now we are back onboard eating the worlds biggest sausage.
Tomorrow Sumara hopes to set sail north to Jan Mayen and Thembi will probably leave Toshavn for Eidi. We have just received a message from Thembi saying they had a bit of a night with Captain Birgir Enni from the Nordlys!

John being blown around on top of the hill

John points to the gully we climbed on the way up

Eidi Harbour where Sumara sheltered from the Winds

Keeping Warm with a Rab Belay Jacket

John has Arrived Safely

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

John flew in last night just in time to join us all having a grand curry on Thembi. Now the crew is all assembled (apart from Charlotte who is arriving in Jan Mayen on the Icelandic boat) we will have a big meeting this evening to finalise plans. The Thembi crew are of on a bus ride around the islands today while Sumara is doing the fresh provisioning, filling with water and diesel etc. Sumara will probably head off tomorrow to catch slack water at 2015 in the narrows between the island. We need to get the timing dead right because the tide rips through at 12 knots either side of slack water! We will then moor in the little harbour of Eidi while we wait for perfect tidal conditions before heading off north to Jan Mayen. Thembi will probably follow a day later as she is a faster yacht. The ice conditions in Scoresbysund are good yet but they are improving. I have attached the latest ice chart recieved over satelite phone.

Latest Ice Chart recieved over Satelite Phone

Nolsoy and Thembi the Tanker

Friday, June 24th, 2011

The Walk to the Lighthouse on Nolsoy


After knocking off some tasks in the morning Sarah and I thought we would treat ourselves to a good walk. We took the ferry to the island of Nolsoy just half an hour away and walked out to the lighthouse. A great walk about 2 hours each way along a path well marked with stone cairns. It was a bit boggy in places as Sarah discovered. 

Sarah went up to her Knees in one Deep bit of Bog

We had hoped to see Thembi arrive from the lighthouse but after a thorough scan of the horizon there was no sight of them. It wasn’t until we were on the ferry back when we saw them about to enter the harbour at Torshavn.

Sumara and Thembi are now moored together and we shall discuss our plans for Jan Mayen over the next few days. I was my first time on Thembi, and a very fine ship she is with coal burning stove and oddles of atmosphere. We also discovered she has 300L water tanks, hence Thembi the Tanker. Sumara has two 17L tanks plus lots of containers but a total capacity on this trip of just 134L. A max of 2L a day.

John arrives tonight. Yippee, the Faroes- Jan Mayen crew will be complete.

Captain Enni from the Nordlys has invited us all onboard for dinner tonight. We are looking forward to that treat. The night before last we had a wonderful meal with Arm (Herbert?) on Woe Wei. Quite a cook! Thanks for that.

It’s Good to Share

Friday, June 24th, 2011
Easy Split

The mast head of yachts is obviously a good place to site antennae but there is not much space. When I installed my Simrad AIS I faced the problem of where to site an extra aerial. Andy at Greenham Marine suggested using the, then new to the market, Easy Split to share the AIS with the VHF. Yesterday I bought a new car stereo radio to replace the last one which had rusted away. It too can share the same aerial. A good piece of kit.

By the way, the shopkeepers in the Faroes are wonderful. The man in the Radio Shop gave me the Ipod lead free of charge and the following day made up a special lead to connect to the Easy Split and refused to take any money for it. Brilliant service.