Archive for June, 2011

N63,39.65 x W007.41. Force 1 Northerly. Sunny. 451nm to Jan Mayen

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Well who would have believed it! Its a lovely day up here, the sun has a bit of warmth (15C)and it is pretty much calm but sadly no wind. Sumara is chug chuging along but I think we can see Thembi to our port beam so I suspect they are making a gallant effort at sailing. We could only manage 1 knot sidewards so decided to burn off somne very precious diesel. We have 103L on board, lets say 90L useable, which needs to get us to Greenland. I’ve emailed Charlotta to see if she can smuggle some onto Aurora in her handbag but haven’t had a response. Not sure if Charlotta has got a handbag in any case. There was a rendezvous at 2200 last night with Thembi as they overhauled us just after a rain squall. Lots of video going on. I was in bed. John knocked up some warm rolls with bacon this morning (that’s something else for Charlottas handbag). I’ve just painted a rubbish picture of Ullapool – lovely place just a rubbish picture. Its tough out here.

Sent by satellite phone at 10.27 GMT on Thursday 30th June 2011 (Blogged by Gerry)

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)

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

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.


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

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

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

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

Will She Sink?

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Sumara is now fully laden the waterline has just disappeared below the water. We are carrying 104L of diesel, 134L of water, climbing gear, food, anchor tackle etc. It should be enough to take us to Jan Mayen and then on to Greenland. We will be very restricted in the use of water, no washing, and we will cook with sea water or a mix of sea and fresh whenever we can. We are intending to allow plenty of time to sail to Jan Mayen so we can conserve diesel for Greenland when the wind could be light and we will need to negotiate growlers.
Thembi the Tanker carries about the same amount of diesel but 300L of water. The Sumara crew always get a strange thirst when we visit Thembi..

The Forepeak Half Full with Gear – There’s still more to Squeeze in.

The Aft Locker – without all the rope.