Notes from my Expedition Journal
These are notes taken directly from my little waterproof notepad. I was invited as crew on Will Stirling’s splendid yacht “Integrity”. We were aiming for Scoresby Sund but for my second time we were thwarted by ice. Any additions or alterations to the original notes I have made in blue, otherwise it is an exact transcript. The notes were really just aimed at being a brief aid memoire for myself but I thought I would share them. They certainly only just touch on the wonderful adventures that we had!
Scoresby Sund July 2019
5th July Friday
Discovered SAR and medical insurance does not cover Greenland! Oh dear.
6th July Saturday
Arrived Holiday Inn, Luton ready to meet at 04:15 at the airport. Met Dominic.
7th July Sunday
On board Easyjet Flight with all the baggage except Will’s 10 L of engine oil. The galvanized gaff fitting only just made it as it was hand baggage: Don’t buy the cheese and ham toastie on the plane – words can’t describe its foulness with enough E numbers to kill a rat.
Will was fined £377.00 for speeding [in our hire car] (115 in a 90 km zone) which wasn’t great.
The boat is very special indeed – truly a real wooden boat! Dominic cooked supper because he hates pasta with tuna which sadly is both Will and I’s signature dish!
Gaff jaw on the way to being mended but needs more bolts. Finish No1 bottle Ginger and went for a beer.
8th July Monday
Woke slightly cold, need to thermal up. The day warmed up with very light wind and cloud. A day to work on the boat. Gaff jaw mended, Daniel repaired the gunwhale, new downhauls spliced, waterline cleaned, sail covers off, stay sail hanked on provisioning sorted and Dominic and Jack are making a curry! Tim just leaving the Faroes. Still too much ice in Scoresby Sund. Flatey tomorrow after MOB practice, then Isafjordur.
9th July Tuesday
Left Husavik lunchtime. Caught massive cod plus two small [ones] between Flatey and headland in 25 m. Watched whales. Variable wind so spells of motoring at 1,800 rpm. Topsail up.
10th July Wednesday
08:00 End of my watch. Clear sky but looks like sea fog to the east. Heading W by N at about 3-4 knots.
12:15 GMT Midway between Hunafloi. At about 18:00 when stopped for fishing, the cliffs of the Horn appeared from the clouds high above!
11th July Thursday 01:15 [probably 13:15?]
Off Oskubakur about 8-10 miles before arriving at Sudureyri. Square sail rigged because the wind increased and went aft but wind quite slack now. Leaving at 18:00 due to strong winds arriving in East Greenland in late Sunday/Monday.
12th July Friday
We left Sudureryi on time at 18:00 yesterday. Now still motorsailing through a gentle north west breeze. We could sail but decided it would be best to get some miles in the bank and maybe take things gently later on. We are definitely aiming to arrive on Sunday before the wind picks up. I’ve just been served in bed by Will. I was late on my last watch so keen to take over early to make up.
Boat heated by warm air off the engine. Dan spotted the first ICE! at 07:30. (P.S. Dan’s fish curry yesterday was fantastic). Sea temp 6.2C according to the duck thermometer. Tuna pasta for lunch (we tried to eat it while Dom was asleep as he HATES tuna pasta – but he woke up!). Very comfy berth. Only one drip so bivvy bag is just a precaution.
21:40 Air temp 4C Sea temp 3C could be some sea ice soon. Baro 1018 – no wind.
13th July [Saturday]
Baro steady. Sea temp 3C Air 4C. Fog and clear patches. Using Auks to judge crash distance to floating ice. Usually about one minute. Still no wind. Will caught a sun sight – just.
About 65 nm to go until land. Bruschetta and spaghetti for lunch. Very warm onboard.
14th July – Sunday
Motoring through a cold fog. Thought we saw some land at about 03:45 but it was a very large ice berg. We decided to change co. to Cape Dan due to the fog making the inshore passage both tricky and pointless. The coal in the stove burns down to ashes and leaves no cinder. About 60 nm to the settlement but only about 5 nm to land. If the fog would clear we would get a great view!
11:45 Land ahoy!! Took the dinghy through an iceberg. Moored aside supply ship 17:00.
15th July Monday
Woken abruptly by the supply ship needing to move off due to the arrival of a container ship. Located rifles in the shop but decided not to take one. Hiring would mean returning south to hand back and to buy would cost £670.00. Visited museum and had private talk. Set off after lunch for 30 nm to anchorage in bay E of Tiniteqilan just off Sermilik Fjord. Anchored at midnight after negotiating ice and bergs across the fjord. Touched on entry [see drawing below]
16th July Tuesday
Left anchorage under jib and met 10 kayakers. We gave them a tow and sang Happy Birthday to one of them. Leader was a nice chap called Martin from the Shetlands. Hammock rigged from forestay. Water temp 10.5 degrees C. (?)
Island Ikasartivaq – Will and Dan exploring in dinghy.
Anchored in about 20 m with 45 m of chain with fishermans’ anchor in small pebbles – holding doubtful. About .5 kn current against. Anchored off old American Air Base with thousands of rusty diesel drums (apparently spiked by locals over ownership dispute). Dan and Jack laid net at right angles to shore near mouth of stream to try to catch some trout. Ikateq fjord off shoot of Sermiligaq Fjord.
Air Base in Ikateq 16th – 17th July
17th July Wednesday
Note. 2 hr watches work well in ice.
Crew must have hand on tiller and be very alert. Singlehanding would be very very tricky or impossible.
Woke up to find the net with around 100 ugly spiky fish all of which needed to be untangled. It took about 1 ½ hrs. Two small cod plus yippee one Arctic Char made a meal with curry rice medley. Wend ashore and crossed the fast river at the lake to visit the disused air base with thousands of old oil drums. No polar bears sighted which was just as well because we had split up and no one knew who had the scarer kit. Crossed stream again at the delta and quickly up anchor and got underway to Storo. Saw a huge iceberg roll over (videoed it, I think). Storo was partly blocked by bergs which made for a twisty passage. One other yacht there in the far corner which was a shame! Anchored in 20 m with 50 m chain. Didn’t test and didn’t drag.
*Note. Beware rocks off Sermilligaq which are incorrectly marked on chart 2300.
Stunning safe anchorage but bumped by small berg in the night which I slept through.
18th July Thursday
Walked up hill overlooking sea with bear scarers. Great views of bergs and over the anchorage looking like Lulworth Cove.
Motored up Odesund to Kangertig-twatsiaq. Keep to starboard on entry due to bar. Saw waterfall with suggested anchorage. Turned around and headed to Midtpynt and east up the coast in thick fog past Kap Japeturs Steenstrup. Left Ailsa O to S.board and headed up up Tugtilik. Anchored in fog at head of port hand branch. Climbed onto berg for photos
Storo 17th/18th July
18th July Thursday
Anchorage surrounded by grounded bergs at base of river delta with very gently shelving beach. Walked towards the lake crossing various stream to try to find Gino Watkins old hut and boat. Stumbled into them returning to boat. Saw Arctic Fox. Dan caught 7 Arctic Char in 20 m net laid across delta.
Got up very early after 5-6 hrs sleep but still didn’t get underway until 3pm after 6x ferry loads of water.
The chosen anchorage was blocked by glacier growlers and bergy bits so we headed out to sea to find clear water and headed further north.
*Note Saw Gino Watkins memorial en route and clambered up some rocks to take photo.
*Must take fishing tackle
19th/20th July Friday Saturday
Anchored on steep moraine in 12 m +
20th July Saturday
Set off early (11:00 GMT) for inner passage route to Solos Sund.
*Note: Integrity Fuel C400 L
Water 230 L
Consumption 4.4 at 1880 rpm = 1 L per nm
Quite heavy ice conditions and we found Solos Sund blocked by large bergs so we continued north as far as Sondre Aputiteq when we moored up to a flat piece of floating ice in position 67 degrees 12.53N x 33 degrees 18.00 W. Decided to stay the night. Not enough diesel to reach Iceland so we need wind but v. calm today. Plan for morning is to climb the island but we’ll see what the ice is looks like. Engine sprung a diesel leak on injector but luckily we repaired it by really tightening the nut – good job it didn’t break! We would be a bit stuffed without an engine in these light airs.
67 degrees 13.28 N x 33 degrees 15.68 W drift O/N (?)
21st July Sunday
Still moored to drift ice when a polar bear was spotted by Dom on his watch. The bear eventually disappeared. In the morning iut was decided to land on the island (Sondre Aputiteq) and climb to the top. Dom and I were to guard the boat. Climbing party stopped when they spotted a bear sitting on top of the island! At same time the yacht was being hemmed in by ice. Once crew were onboard we set off in calm towards Iceland. We don’t quite have enough diesel to make it back so some wind is needed.
*Note: Navionics is very inaccurate in Greenland. Even the charts were missing rocks. RCC Pilot has land across passage around Angmassalik!
*Note: Trail log no good in ice!
*Note: T7Design – Heater runs off calorifier output from engine. Worth considering.
22nd July Monday
We have been motoring through thick fog and oily calm all night and day. No sign of wind yet. Fuel holding up so far.
*Note: Aim to carry no more than 10% of body weight.
23rd July Tuesday
Calm and fog turned into F 5/6 NE
- No3 Jib wrapped around bobstay – quite a struggle to release with Will almost underwater hanging off the bowsprit. 2 hrs spent reefing
- Engine stopped at head of fjord. Eventually restarted by directly feeding by diesel direct.
- Engine stopped just before harbour – tried to tow with dinghy. Then small fishing boat came to rescue
24th July Wednesday
Swim and Hot Tub.
25th July Thursday
Flateyri to SE to Breidiadlur Pass. At tunnel continue along stream to lake 105 degrees C (C=compass) to next lake. 20 – 25 mins should bring us to the second lake. Follow stream 105 degrees C into valley
Flateyri to junction 3.6 nm (4)
J to lake No1 (680 m) 2.4 nm (3)
L1 to L2 1.2 nm (2)
L2 to Isafjordur 6 nm (1)
Walked across as race against the boat. We won in 7 hrs 25 mins 36 sec. Distance 27.2 km
26th July Friday
Work day on boat priming over flakey paint and Stockholm Tar. Visited Husid Bar in evening.
Found my pen! Met Siggi who now lives in Finland
27th July Saturday
Ekkert means “Nothing” in Icelandic. Volvo C202 Van 4 wheel drive apparently v nice.
Went for a swim, visited museum, helped tung oil the deck, went for a Thai meal in Netto the supermarket, then beer and early night.
28th July Sunday
Left Isafjordur early in the morning in hire car. Visited Old Grimsby trawler in Arkannes. Arrived at airport way too early.