Archive for the ‘Faroes’ Category

We are underway!

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

62N x 007W. Force 3 Southerly.
It’s 0450 GMT and we are just clearing the massive Faroese Cliffs which I believe are some of the highest in Europe (but don’t quote me on that). The tide was just right giving us a bit of a lift and sweeping us along in the calms under the lee of the land. We are now making 3.7 knots under yankee and full main and the stay sail is about to go up. We have had coffee and a big bowl of muesli which is kept in a yellow flare box. I had my Cod Liver Oil dose much to the disgust of the crew. It is 550 mile to Jan Mayen. Its too early to give an ETA but we reckon the 6th July. Once this phone reception goes it will be over to the satelite phone.

Sarah and John with the Faroese Cliffs in the Background

Thembi Stops off at Eidi!

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Thembi have just joined us in Eidi. They were going to sail on to Jan Mayen but saw our flourescent yellow radar reflector sheltering behind the harbour wall and decided to stop off to see us.
The best laid plans thwarted!
I have just recieved an email from Siggi:

Hey Alasdair

The best anchorage is normally in Kvalrossbukta on the NV side (7058N 00841V) but from there it´s a long hike to Beerenberg. For the climb you will drop off your people in Stasjonsbukta (7100N 00828V) under the old weather station at Gamle Metten. This is where we will start our climb. Baatvika is normally not a very pleasant anchorage, very exposed and rocky.

All the best // Siggi

Thembi Tying up in Eidi

Bare Poles Down the Sundini

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Bare Pole Biding Time

Sumara set off yesterday down the narrow gap between Streymoy and Eysturoy. We had calculated that the mean tide would be at 2037 GMT. The narrows from Torshavn to near the bridge have no tidal rise at all but just after the bridge the rise and fall is 2m. At high water the stream runs at up to 12 knots towards the south and at low water it flows north. It is crucial to hit near slack water even at neaps. We departed from Torshavn about an hour earlier than we should have just because we were ready and eager to go. The wind was about force 3 south easterly, just about perfect. We aimed to sail slowly to arrive on time. After only about half an hour the wind increased and we were sailing at 6 knots with a reef. At this speed we would need to stop somewhere to bide time. Then the wind really got up. I went to put in a second reef but we decided to drop the main entirely and run under yankee alone. We were still making 6 knots and now the idea of stopping on a jetty would be dangerous because of the lee shore. Then the wind increased again, maybe the funnelling effect of the narrows and I went forward to reef the staysail ready for a hoist and to drop the yankee. John was doing a really splendid job on the helm and made an excellent suggestion of running under bare poles. We dropped all sails and Sumara gybed across the narrows slowly at 1.5 to 2 knots. She felt safe and secure and we were able to control our arrival time at the narrow and very dangerous bridge. Eventually the wind eased slightly and we decided to hoist the yankee and go for it. We were about one hour early but slack often occurs 50 minutes early.
There is a small harbour just short of where the current starts to run on the starboard side so it would be possible to lay alongside a fishing boat if necessary. (Not marked on my charts).

Now we were sailing at 5-6 knots under yankee approaching the bridge which has 17m air draft and 25m width. We were picking up a slight contrary current which built to 2 knots against but Sumara was happily making 4 knots SOG. At the bridge the wind fluked but quickly caught the sails again. Had the stream against us been stronger and the wind lighter it could have easily been possible for the tide to catch the bow of Sumara and sweep her onto the bridge piles but we were through and clear. We now needed to find the leading marks, a set of binoculars to hand at this stage would have helped. The white triangles with a red stripe are situated just to the right of a large white building. The second leading marks are easier to pick up on the grassy bank to the starboard and the safe water buoy is very clear. It is probably not really necessary for shoal draft boats to follow these lines but it’s best to do it by the book.
Once clear of the narrows we made quick progress along the last 5 miles to Eidi, a large easy to enter harbour with a long pontoon on the protected south side. The Eberspacher heater soon dried us out and we were eating a hearty meal before midnight. The wind howled all night so my batteries are once again fully charged.
I’m not sure if Thembi will set off in this wind but we have a bit of time to spare so there’s no mad rush. We couldn’t say goodbye to Thembi before we left because they were crewing on Nordlys on a fishing trip. I bet they had fun, Captain Birgir Enni is a wonderful generous Faroese character. Sarah, John and I will spend the day climbing the Faroes highest hill at 887m.

The Approach to the Sundini Bridge

Pre-departure Meeting

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

We all met up on Thembi last night go through any final details for the trip to Jan Mayen. Sumara will leave on Sunday to Eidi. We will clamber up the 887m high hill near there on Monday as are final exercise before sailing north. Thembi, the faster yacht, will probably follow on Monday. The Thembi crew went for a good climb when they went on their bus trip (I suspected it wouldn’t just be a bus trip!).

We decided we will listen on VHF and put our sat phones on between 1800 and 1900 GMT. We will call up on VHF but if out of range we will send a short text via sat phones. Gerry, Samantha and Richard will send occasional Ice Reports but only to Sumara. Thembi will email Gerry when they require Ice Information.

I will email Siggi at Borea Adventures just before we set off. On arrival we will call up the Station Commander on channel 16.

We all looked at all the anchorage possibilities. The weather is looking good to set off soon with southerly winds backing east. We will try to keep east to avoid being headed by the Jan Mayen current.

In the unlikely case of emergency we will put the Falmouth Coastguard telephone number into our satellite phones.

After the meeting Sarah took John and I out for an amazing meal to a recommended Italian restaurant. One of the best meals I’ve had (Peter won’t be happy about this).

Charlotte and all in Thembi for the Pre-departure Meeting

Faroese Fishing Boats

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Faroese Boat with Ships Bridge!


The small fishing boats here are very distinctive. You can see their Viking routes. They seem perfectly at home in the rough water around the island pulling up cod.

Strangely the owners like to make the cabins look rather like big ship bridges with a series of small windows which seem to be in the wrong scale. Each one is different and they are certainly more fun to look at than those patio door fishing boats which are popular in England and France.

A boat of Fine Character

Lovely Faeroes, but best approached on neeps!

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Torshavn, Faeroe Islands. Overcast F2 Easterly.
Well it wasn’t quite the milk run that we were hoping for. We managed to pick up on the east wind and we used it to make east of north so that when the wind backed to a northerly we could still sail on a starboard tack. However I didn’t want to go out too far east in case the wind backed to a north westerly. It got up to force 6 at times and pretty bumpy too. Good training for the next leg. We have a little list of jobs. After a fast leg the wind did back and soon we were hard on the wind for a wet and tough time. The tides around the Faeroes are some of the most dangerous in the world. There are tales of steamers leaving Torshavn in good weather but on a bad tide and returning missing funnels and lifeboats. Tilman sailed to the Faeroes and got caught by a tide which shot him through the islands and spat him out on the west coast. As we approached we could feel the strength of the tide dragging us sidewards. Not too serious while the wind was strong but as it faded and the lumpy sea remained Sumara started to hobby horse and track sidewards towards the islands. With a careful mix of engine and sailing whenever we could we eventually scraped our way close to the coast near Torshavn where we could just punch the tide. Eventually the tide eased and we arrived at 1800 19th June to a friendly welcome by the Customs and Harbour Master. Tomorrow we are crewing the tourist sailing ship out to the sea caves!
Thembi set off from Ullapool on Sunday lunchtime. I think they may have a bit of a beat but Thembi is a powerful boat which points well so I am sure they will make the most of it. Hopefully they will arrive Wednesday or Thursday.