Archive for the ‘Greenland’ Category

Journey to the Centre of the World

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Sailing Towards Olafsvik

Descend into the crater of Yocul of
Sneffels, Which the shade of Scartaris
Caresses, Before the kalends of July
Audacious traveller, And you will
Reach the centre of the earth. I did it.
Arne Saknussemm.

So we are now moored on the tyre wall at the base of Snaefell Jokull. Our long warps are weighted by my splendid bronze chum and a water carrier to compensate for the large tides. Snaefell is the volcano in Jules Vernes tale “Journey to the Centre of the World”. It is still regarded as one of the great “power centres” of the world. I suppose as we didn’t get to Greenland the centre of the world be a reasonable substitute.
Thembi stopped of at Patreksfjordur and are now on their way to join us so I am looking forward to their tales of the ice closing in around them and killer whales. They, of course it goes without saying, climbed a little mountain yesterday. Hopefully we will climb Snaefell tomorrow.
Today we are having a relaxing day pottering about. We have just had a swim and hot tub. Every Icelandic village has a great swimming pool and a hot tub so it makes cruising here rather civilised. The Icelanders are always very kind and helpful. When my credit card didn’t work in the ATM they invited me in to the bank, gave me coffee, and spent half an hour on the phone trying to repair the machine. OK, they never got it to work but it was an impressive effort. Despite being in one of the “power centres of the world” there is a power cut now. The big Iceland Geothermal Company is in financial trouble, maybe they have decided to stop making electricity.
Now that I am outnumbered by women on the Good Ship Sumara I am getting concerned about the amount of “girlie talk”. I may have to ration it if it doesn’t get under control soon. Charlotte has been to the chemist to try to buy some nail varnish remover. Surely she realises we are on an expedition. If she needs acetone it should be bought in 5 litre cans under the pretence we are using it to soak some engine parts otherwise all our creditability will be lost.
A gale warning has just come in on the Furuno Navtex from Greenland giving 15 metres per second for the area where we would have been had we continued on to Greenland. 15m/s is a force seven – “Sea heaps up, white foam from breaking waves begins to be blown in streaks” according to Beaufort. Add to that the latest Danish Ice Chart which had the ice closing in and getting more compact and throw in dense fog for good measure and I think you will agree that our decision to retreat was a sound one.
But we have the charts, the ice poles and the rifle plus a lot more knowledge. Already plans are forming up for another attempt in a few years time. Charlotte is very keen on trying the inland waterway route between Murmansk and St Petersburg. So maybe we could visit Greenland in August when the ice will be clearer, over winter in Iceland, then head off to the North Cape and down the waterways to St Petersburg and winter again in Sweden. Oh dear, I really must stop all this. What’s wrong with Salcombe?

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

Denmark Straight

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Position N66,27.868 x W025,54.99. Dense Fog
Sadly we have decided to abandon our attempt to get to Greenland. A grib weather file was
showing really strong winds approaching the area of coast that we proposed to try to make landfall. As it was by no means certain that the ice would have cleared enough to gain shelter it would have put us at risk of being amongst ice in a gale. A later grib file showed an improved situation but our Ice Charts were giving us a lot of ice to the north. It was all looking too dodgy. The good news is that Thembi have just encountered their first bergy bits and we are in hot pursuit. The fog here is very dense so we are creeping along very slowly.
After we have had a mooch around we will run off to Iceland, probably Olafsvik or maybe Patreksfjord. We cant afford to hang around too long or we will end up beating into quite strong headwinds. There is talk of another “Hill Walk” and I see Snaefellsjokull is 1446m high.

Stop Press: Here comes the ice!

Sent at 11.57GMT on 20th July 2011

Into the Ice

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Position N66,13.7 x W023,22.28. Wind – just dropped off.
We had a highly successful visit to Isafjordur, no one arrested and no one injured. Siggi and his father were marvelous. Siggi’s father, Jon, gave us a huge chunk of wolf fish to take to sea. That will be our super tonight then a nice fish soup for tomorrow. John caught his plane at 9am this morning and Sumara and Thembi did all those final jobs before finally setting sail at 1130. We will miss John as crew onboard Sumara he has been great fun and a great sailor. I hope Johns Children appreciate the highly inappropriate gifts they have been bought, if he gets them through customs that is.
Now we are chugging along off the North Coast of Iceland. The wind has just died but Thembi have called on VHF to say that the promised NE wind has kicked in and they are making 5.5kts. The weather forecast is good for this area (apart from fog banks) but there are gales a little futher south. There always seem to be gales near the South tip of Greenland. The ice charts are not so promising. The Norwegian one looks good but the Danish one shows a deep band of 6-8/10ths of ice stretching near to Iceland. Sadly Siggi says the Danish ones are nearly always correct because they use actual data from shipping as well as satelites.
We are expecting to meet with the ice edge in about 60 miles, then we will gently feel our way around it to find a possible lead in towards Greenland. It may be too risky to get enclosed by the ice. We will wait and make a decision when we encounter the ice edge. As Dan says “Its going to be fun”.
Finally I was thrilled to receive so many lovely comments on the blog when I managed to get online in Iceland. I am afraid I haven’t been able to respond to everyone with these limited facilities but I will once I get a good connection. Emails are also being read and forwarded appropriately. Thank you all so much!

Sent at 18.23GMT 19th July 2011

Today is the Official Birthday of Jacobus Halsall

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Position N66,26 x W023,10 Wind N F3
The Captain and Crew of the Good Ship  Sumara and the Good Ship Thembi and the Good Ship Aurora would like to take this opportunity to wish Jack Halsall a very Happy Birthday. As you are all aware Jack is the Expeditions Official Model Maker and without his splendid model of the Mighty Beerenberg we may well have climbed the wrong mountain. We are deeply indebted to Jack and his fine craftsmanship.

Sumara has just rounded Straumnes Light and entered Isafjardhardjup. Thembi passed the same point at about 1800 yesterday and they should have moored up late last night or early this morning. Aurora should be there too. We have about 25nm to go. It is very pleasant here, much warmer than any day since we left the Faeroes, and we have some spectacular scenery to watch as we glide up the fjord. We have seen our first boats and our firstpuffin since leaving Jan Mayen.

The ice is still blocking the coast of Greenland but it is clearing close to Nansen Fjord.
Hopefully the situation will improve by the time we get there.

Sent at 12.30GMT 16th July 2010



The Latest Cunning Plan

Friday, July 15th, 2011

N68,41 x W014,34. Calm
Now we are motoring through a slight sea and I’ve been thinking!
We certainly haven’t given up on Greenland yet. It was always going to be the icing on the cake but I’m rather found of icing. So the latest rouse is as follows: We arrive in Isafjordur on 16th July. John has to catch a flight from Reykjavik on the 21st so he will get an internal flight to the main airport. Hopefully Thembi will arrive in Isafjordur too. Maybe Sarah will be there too? Sounds like a party. If Sumara (and Thembi?) both leave by the 19th and head for Kangerlussuaq which is only 240nm away it should take us about three days to get there. If the ice is still too thick then we will just have to turn back but hopefully we will be able to get to an anchorage recommended by Siggi and used by Suhali for the Bonnington/Knox Johnston expedition. The fjord is generally heavily iced up but this anchorage is protected by small islets and reefs which stop the icebergs getting in. It is meant to be an amazing place. We would have to leave on the 25th (maybe 26th) to ensure Charlotte gets her flight from Iceland.

I think it is a plan and I think it is a good plan!

Sent at 04.16GMT on 14th July

Beating into an Arctic Blast

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Position N68,54.7 x W013,08.8.
Now the wind has moderated and the genoa is up but it is tough making any progress to the west. The last two or three days have had us beating into icy cold winds and a lumpy sea with double reefs and yankee. The lee rail has been under and waves have been sweeping the decks most of the time. Sumara headed west as long as she could to avoid the stronger winds to the south. Thembi was under storm jib and triple reef having caught the more powerful winds to the south. Thembi’s last position (1800 last night) was N68.29 x W10.58. Our plans have changed slightly as we haven’t made much progress towards the Greenland coast. John is running out of time for his flight so Sumara will call in at Isafjordur to drop him off. Thembi have also run a long way south so they may call in a Husavik and then possibily Isafjordur. Sarah may well be there having returned from Jan Mayen on the yacht Aurora. There is a boat festival in Husavik this weekend. It is very
tempting but it would blow out our chances of getting to Greenland which is
still Sumaras priority.
We have been living well despite the very cold conditions. Charlotte knocked up a great curry last night and we have even been having hot lunches. Charlotte always moans that she is a useless cook but everything I’ve eaten has been really yummy. I’ve discovered that my Icebreaker socks were making my feet cold. For some reason they don’t make them big enough. As soon as I took them off my feet were as warm as toast. I wear Kari’s felted
Norwegian slippers down below and have been known to sleep in them. The best boot socks so far were a present from Sarah, they were MOD issue Arctic Grade socks and were loose and thick and soft. You definitely need different socks onboard to on land.
We have all been wearing about six layers of thermals and oilies. Charlotte and John have even been wearing their Primaloft Belay jackets under their oilskins. There was talk of Primaloft underpants but lets not go there. You need the layers because a lot of the time you are just sitting still. I’ve just changed sails and the burst of activity has caused me
to boil over. Sumara has been taking on a bit more water than expected in the rough weather. We can’t work out why, maybe the cockpit sole maybe the anchor hawse pipe or forward vent. About 50 strokes per three hour watch keeps the bilge dry so we won’t sink.
The distance to Isafjordur is 286nm. It looks like the wind will die out soon so we will need to motor. I suppose we are looking at three more days. It is pleasant at sea but the lure of a hot pool and even a washing machine is a strong one.

Sent at 18.36GMT 13th July 2011

Ice Situation Scoresbysund

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Scoresbysund is still not accessible but Angmagsslik is looking just possible. Hopefully the situation will improve over the next few weeks. John has a helicopter ride and flight booked from Scoresbysund so if we go further south some new arrangements may need putting in place. (I think that was a hint Selma!) Sumara is waiting for the winds to die off a bit before heading north. There are still near gales around the Faroes but they should die out at lunchtime. Our two tidal windows are at 1400 or 0200 in the following morning. We are reckoning on lightish winds for the next four days. There is a depression developing on Friday further south but its too early to tell what that might bring.

Thembi are probably waiting for the weather to improve in Torshavn before heading up to Eidi.

Ice Situation in East Greenland