A navigational faux pas, but arrived safely in Husavik!

Scoresby Sund Expedition 2022

Day 40. 20th July 2022

Position: Moored Husavik, Iceland

Weather: Calm in the harbour at least

Ice: Not looking so good – yet

It was my first really good weather day in 40 days! Our departure from Vopnafjordur was a little later than the original plan due to us enjoying the delights of the little town and its rather out of town swimming pool where I actually relaxed in the sun, on a sun lounger!

Do you think Torsten is enjoying himself

Our late departure mattered little because of my navigational cock-up. On nearly every chart the degrees latitude are clearly marked one-by-one on the side of the chart. For technical reasons you use this scale (which varies with latitude over the chart) to set your dividers to nautical miles. Which I did as usual. Sadly, this particular chart which is rather attractive, for reasons of presentation, decided to mark every other degree on the side of the chart resulting in my dividers being set to 20 nm instead of 10 nm. So, I told Torsten that it was only 80 nm to Husavik and the crucial tidal gateway was a mere 24 nm away, and we duly cast off for a pleasant days sail.

Even on the original passage plan we stood no chance of rounding the critical headland on time because we spent four or five hours tacking into a headwind to just clear the harbour’s bay. Instead of clearing Langanes in the afternoon we were still sailing towards it late at night. I suppose it was rather late to be reading the pilot books but at about 01:00 in the morning I spotted that the calm water would be at High Water Husavik + 45 minutes. Not knowing when HW was, I called up Grit on the sat phone to see if she could look up the tides for Husavik. She was of course thrilled to receive a call in the middle of the night but nevertheless duly phoned back with the time of 02:40? More by luck than judgement we were bang on time!

Pilot books generally describe these headlands in such a way that you feel your survival chances are about 50/50. We heeded their advice to keep tight into the shore and rounded with no issues. It was then a 40 nm rolly run goose-winged with a F5 wind up the stern until we reached the gannet stacks reminiscent of St Kilda. It was during this 40 nm leg that Torsten correctly pointed out that Husavik must be more the 80 nm from Vopnafjordur and the minor technical error was pinpointed, minor only if you feel being 100% wrong is a minor error.

I could be wrong, but I think we crossed into the Arctic Circle when we rounded the headlands.

A gannet stac, just like St Kilda

At the gannet stacs we removed the pole from the Yankee (I say we, but Torsten actually did it) and enjoyed a smooth sleigh ride at 5-6 kn all the way to Husavik. It was touch and go if we would arrive in time for a beer in a bar. Our bilges only had one can of Sloop Oil which was deemed too little to celebrate such a momentous occasion.

Our arrival in Husavik – Photo courtesy of Peter Owens

Not to worry though, as we had a such brilliant reception on the arrival of the Good Ship. Firstly, a friendly chap from “Dagmar Aaen”, a fine German vessel, came to take our ropes and said that he followed the blog, gosh that must be eleven followers, we’ve gone viral!

Then Caroline from “Northabout” arrived with a friend from “The Belle Epoque” asking if we would like to join them for a beer on another boat from Ireland. Finally, Paddy arrived from the Irish boat to say hello. It is so nice when people have names that are easy to remember!

As we were walking around to the boat armed with Torsten’s bottle of Irish Whiskey (good call Torsten!) and our lonely can of beer I noticed the name of the boat was “Danu”(with an accent on the U) and asked Paddy if the Skipper was called Peter Owens, who I had been emailing about the trip earlier in the year. Wow, what a small world it is up here. There was a fully fledged bit of Irish hospitality going on as only the Irish can do.

Northabout’s climbing crew were off somewhere on a climbing mission, but the sailors were still on board and in very fine form led by Marthe, their Skipper. After several hours of tales about weather, ice, gear failures and polar bears, a bit of singing broke out in the cockpit delegation with a very fine rendition of “Drunken Sailor” with all the words in perfect English by Alex who is French. Sometimes I feel very inferior, only knowing the first line of a French song about the bridge in Avignon (and indeed no songs in English either). Note: I must learn some, but if you have heard me sing maybe its not such a good idea.

It is now 09:20 in the morning, I’m still in bed but drinking fresh coffee. There is a big list of jobs to do but life is good, very good indeed!

Slowly ticking off the jobs

Ice Report

Thanks to Gerry for keeping us up to date with the ice situation. Still too much for us just now but there is time yet.

Latest Ice Chart- not looking so good!

6 responses to “A navigational faux pas, but arrived safely in Husavik!”

  1. That’s the beauty of using paper charts! But it makes landfall all the more interesting…
    I have been watching videos of sailing in Islandic waters all afternoon. Have a great time there!

  2. Hi Alasdair,
    I see from your todo list that you still need sail slides. I have plenty, including many from your sail! I could send them this Friday if you like… Just let me know. Best,

  3. Sounds like a great evening. Glad you had a good celebration!

    1. Yes, it was a very special night!

  4. Great to see appropriate prioritisation of the job list. It so easy to get things out of perspective. I think that it will be a little longer before the ice melts back but not long. Fingers crossed.

    1. Yes, the ice has reduced a lot but still too much. It needs a good storm to break it up, hopefully not while I’m there!

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