Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Thembi News

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Some gannets fly alongside to keep us company

Thembi are doing fine but a bit short on wind.
Position N56,14 x W008,35. They were 90nm off the Butt of Lewis on 6th August at 1926. Their weekdays are not Monday, Tuesday etc but Curry, Pizza etc. So in Thembi time it was Pizza1926. Quite a good system.

A Little Eye Rest to Cheer You Up

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

A Lovely Hestur doing a Tolt

Ice and Whales

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Position N65,35.66 x W024,41.75. Wind Flukey SW F1-4
I am feeling a little bit sad that we are not going to see Greenland. Perhaps we should have pushed on but decisions needed to be made and I think it was the correct choice. I would hate to need to seek assistance if we made a hash of it. Thembi spent a few more hours in the ice and were rewarded with a pod of killer whales. Their VHF tranmission was rather broken but the words “Adrenaline rush” made it through, so they will be chuffed. Charlotte and Sarah saw a MASSIVE whale on their watch which they later identified as a sperm whale. We had lots of dolphins too. The wolf fish we were given by Jon made for excellent eating with the remains making a Thai fish soup. Sumara is now heading for Olafsvik. We are being swept by a strong tide around the headland off Bjargtangar at the moment. There’s another 50 miles to go. Hopefully we will make it to the harbour before the stronger headwinds set in. Thembi may stop off at Patreksfjordur en route.

Sent at 07.15GMT 21st July 2011

Kidney Function

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Position N68,00 x W017.31
It has been a quiet few watches as the wind died off and we motored through calm and mist. John and Charlotte decided to talk all through their watch rather than read. They touched on such subjects as kidney function, politics and depression. Oh what fun they had! I’ve almost finished reading MingMing which was a present from John Wallace at Dunstaffnage. It is the story of three single handed journeys in a very small yacht. He is having a truly miserable time trying to anchor in Iceland. The remarkable thing about the book is the number of whales he encountered – about five species and many hundreds of them. We have only seen a few Northern Bottlenose and Pilot whales so far.
Now we are sailing again under poled out genoa and the silence is a joy. It looks as if this NE breeze may hold up until we get to Isafjordur.
Thembi had a plum duff for supper, fascinating stuff. Their position is N67,21 x W18,03 and they are making good progress.
Siggi and Sarah have just left Jan Mayen. It will be good to all meet up again and discuss our new Greenland plans.

Sent at 22.17GMT on 14th July

50 Miles From Jan Mayen

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Position N70,13.2 x W007,53.9 Calm

Sumara is still chugging along through a calm sea with no wind. We are going to go around the north end of the island in the hope we can see the glacier snouts. Visability isn’t too bad but I think the island must be under cloud cover. As predicted we have been seeing more wildlife in the calm sea with three separate whale sightings. The sea temperature is going up which is strange (8 degrees now). Thembi is chugging along too but I think they are going for the south of the island. Their position is 70.22N x 009.11W.

The ice situation in Scoresbysund isn’t looking good with fast ice across the entrance. Hopefully it will improve although offshore winds don’t appear likely in the next four days. We have heard that Charlotte is going to try to bring 20L of diesel out from Iceland if she can buy containers. It will be useful if we have to head south to Angmagssalikto clear the ice. We have motored a total 23 hours so far so we should have 80L of fuel left at 1L
per hour. We need a bit for heating too.

I’ve just finished reading Northern Lights which was a present from Alice and Fran. I
hope those panserbjorner are friendly to us. Back to Naiv Super again, I’m determined to finish it but it’s a struggle reading Norsk.

Sent at 18.14GMT Monday 4th July

Two Good Things About an Oily Calm

Monday, July 4th, 2011

It’s 0545 and we are motoring through an oily calm. I’m taking the opportunity to charge everything up. While we were sailing downwind for the last three days or so the Aerogen wind generator was not often generating any power as so little wind was passing over the boat. I use a bungee strap to hold it facing downwind otherwise the rolling motion of the boat makes the generator revolve – just got to remember to take it off when the wind changes. I have only one general service 105 amp hour battery. It is a Lifeline Advanced Glass Matt battery and it is very good. My last one was still in good shape after 9 years but I decided to get another for this trip. The engine has a smaller 45 amp hour battery separated with a rectifier (I think that’s right – not a blocking diode anyway). The unusual thing about Sumara is that I use a double sized alternator, instead of the usual 35 amp one I have fitted a 75 amp Balmar alternator which is de-rated to half via a Balmar controller. I can turn the alternator off to maximise thrust for the boat when I need it, or I can leave it on half power for normal use, or (and this is the good bit) I can turn the engine into a mini generator while at anchor by switching to full power. It then puts a nice load on the engine (about 4hp) and diesels like to be loaded. Advanced Glass Matt batteries can be charged quickly too. I reckon it is a perfect system for a small boat. I have never needed to use shore power apart from running the odd power tool or fan heater in the winter. I got all the bits and advice from Merlin Power but I am in no way connected with them.

Despite all that, as the battery power eventually faded away, we gradually turned off the AIS, then the VHF, then the GPS and Navtex leaving just the sailing instruments.

The other good thing about an oily calm is that you tend to see more things in the sea and earlier this morning while we were still under sail John spotted some whales. I quickly got up to have a look but only saw them move off in the distance. The fulmars are pretty spectacular too. They skim just above the surface of the water with only an inch to spare. The fulmars have, as always, entertained Sumara the whole way on her long journey north and I place a bet they will sit in the water behind us when we anchor in Jan Mayen.

There are only 100 miles to go now. I am getting very excited about catching the first glimpse of the Mighty Beerenberg volcano. It is one of the biggest in the world and certainly the most northerly. The last large eruption took place in 1970 but it has erupted since. Sadly with the calm conditions the visibility has dropped off but that should be no surprise as 60% of the July days are foggy. Hopefully it will clear later.

Sumara should be at anchor in Kvalrossbukta on the NW coast of Jan Mayen some time on the 5th July. Thembi must be nearly there!

Sent at 06.36 GMT Monday 4th July

Where do Seagulls come from?

Friday, July 1st, 2011

N64,15.7 x W007,22.5 Force 2 SE.
Sarah caught a mackerel yesterday evening. She chopped its head off and gutted it and threw those bits overboard. Within seconds a small flock of seagulls had swooped down to feed on the scraps. The strange thing is that we haven’t seen a seagull for 24 hours until then. Where do they come from?

Whenever Sumara sails north she is always surrounded by a small group of fulmars. I like to think they are always the same fulmars and that they cluster around AIS screens waiting to see where the good ship will be.

We sailed once direct from Greenwich to Lofoten and had the same fulmars all the way. When we stopped they just sat in the water behind the boat. They are beautiful birds and very entertaining on a long cold night watch. They beat their wings a couple of times then glide around the boat often only inches off the sea. In all the months I have spent watching them I have never seen them eat anything at all or even put their beaks into the sea to drink. They never make a noise either. Occasionally an arctic skua will fly in an attack them but the fulmars gang up and chase it away. I’ve seen fulmars rescue other sea birds too. It is easy to take these things for granted but they are really very special.

Sarah and I ate the mackerel for supper, John is not a great fish eater so we had a big bowl of pasta too. I had omitted to record any radio plays to provide a little after diner entertainment and the best I could muster was a Melvin Bragg podcast on Thomas Edison. We hope Thembi’s evening entertainment was more exciting. Tomorrow we will listen to Under the Milkwood.

Thembi were spotted again on our port beam yesterday evening and we had a chat on VHF radio. All is well. Now it is 0400 GMT and we are sailing with a gentle SE breeze on a calm sea. The air temperature and sea temp are both 8 degrees. Yesterday there was a 1.5m swell from the north which slowed us down and made for a pretty unpleasant motion onboard. With these light winds we will struggle to get to Jan Mayen on time without burning a bit of diesel. We need to conserve as much diesel as possible for our onward trip to Greenland so we are being very frugal. On Sumara the current rule is “Don’t use the engine unless VMG is zero or less for more than half an hour”. We have motored for 8.5 hours so far.

Sent at 04.20 GMT Friday 1 July 2011