Scoresby Sund Expedition 2022

Days 54. 3rd August 2022

Position: Still Moored Husavik, Iceland

Weather: Overcast, heavy rain, strong winds. 5 degrees

Ice: No Danish update but Norwegian Charts say the coast is now clear of ice

Sumara still moored in Husavik

The weather is now spooking us. The locals are telling us it is the worst weather they have experienced since 1970’s. There has been a weather warning issued today for North East Iceland warning of: “..flooding, falling rocks and landslides. Outdoor activities (such as hiking) are not advised because of cooling due to the combination of wet weather, low temperatures and strong wind”. Down below the butter is rock hard and the olive oil is cloudy, and no, we don’t have a fridge.

These prolonged days of cold gale force northerly winds with the bay full of white caps is a stark reminder of how fierce the weather can be in the waters north of Iceland even in the summer. The wind has settled down slightly now, but it is still blowing a force 6 directly from Scoresby Sund. There seems to be a possible tight weather window on Friday but that would mean not arriving in Greenland until Sunday 7th August. By the time we have been ashore and replenished the diesel it would probably be the 9th August before we could set off towards Milneland. With flights already booked for a crew change in Reykjavik around 20th August and if the weather remains as unstable as it has been, we could be up against it trying to find a safe weather window to escape. It would mean either taking a risk of battling a storm in the Denmark (Greenland) Straight or abandoning the yacht in Greenland for the winter, not an option I am willing to take.

We have therefore come to the very sad conclusion that we must fold away our Greenland charts and abandon our ambition to reach Scoresby Sund in 2022. It’s not bad luck, it is just the way it is. We tried but ultimately failed to accomplish our goal.

The reality is that it looks like we will have enough on our plates finding some settled weather to get the boat back to Scotland. Our first obstacle is the Langanes Peninsular which has a grim reputation for overfalls and fog. It is 90 nm away from Husavik and should be taken at slack water. It is quite hard to arrange a small boat to arrive somewhere 90 nm away at a specific time. It also looks like the wind will turn against us just as we get to the headland assuming we leave Husavik around midnight on Thursday which is the current plan. It could then be a struggle to reach Vopnafjordur before new strong winds set in.

My little finger is on Husavik and the big finger is on the Langanes headland. Did you know the expression “Rule of thumb” is a sailor’s warning never to sail closer than a thumbs width to an obstacle. You need to find a larger scale chart.
And here is the larger scale chart showing the headland and the overfalls

So, the adventure continues but not as planned.

Life in Husavik

I am however very grateful that we have been harbour bound in Husavik. It is a very fine town with plenty to keep us occupied and a few really wonderful visiting yachts for company. All the yachts have left now except Dagmar Aaen which may remain over winter or return to Germany later in the year. There is no doubt we will be glad to get back to sea but the happy memories of Husavik will always remain.

Beautiful lines of an old Icelandic fishing boat in the fine maritime museum
We won’t be seeing any of these now.

19 Responses

  1. Hi Alasdair, I have been following all your blogs from Scotland to Iceland. I am really sorry that you have had to abandon the remainder of the expedition to Greenland especially after you have done so well to get this far. However, it sounds like you have definitely made the right decision.

    Also, we all want to see you back at BMF or as it is now known, MOF (Military Outdoor Fitness).

    Good luck for a safe return journey back to Scotland

    1. Hi Mark, I’m looking forward to getting back to Blackheath MOF! I’ll be bottom of the blues for a while, too much hanging around in port is not good for you. Thanks for your wishes. Fingers crossed we will be on the east coast on Sunday but it is really grim out there today. Alasdair

  2. Oh noooo! I’ll keep the map up so I can chart your route to Scotland.
    Sorry the weather has been against you.
    Weird here too – 28° yesterday but with a strange very strong warm wind. Seems like there’s definitely a strange weather pattern going on?

    1. Hi Jackie, I think you are right, the weather systems seem to have changed. I’m sure we will work out a way around it and get safely back to Scotland. Regards, Alasdair

  3. Sailing to Husavik is seamanship. Changing plans according to the weather is seamanship…

    Looking at the weather maps, admittedly on a hot summer night in the Med, I wonder whether a circumnavigation of Iceland coud be on the cards?

    PS> I read an interview to an ocean racer who said that because of global warming releasing more energy into the atmosphere, sailing South of the three capes is becoming more and more difficult. Maybe the same is true for the Northern emisphere…

  4. This might be conjecture Alasdair, but we reckon you got closer to Scoresby Sund than we did to Ullapool this year so Bloomin’ well done on your adventures thus far! 🤗
    As Matteo says… excellent Seamanship skills to make the right decision for Sumara & her crew…

    Take care, keep warm & we are looking forward to the next blog instalment.

    Jo & Co xx

    1. We have just got the Eberspacher to work again so the cabin is now snug and warm. Still blowing F6 outside but we hope to sail tonight around the first headland before to wind turns against us again. X

  5. And that is why we trust you Al. Making a tough call when your heart wants to do otherwise but safety first. Keeping all crossed that making the next leg homeward bound is not as difficult as you predict. Looking forward
    to hearing more…

  6. Alasdair, a real shame. Of course the thing that makes trips like this exciting is the very reason why they don’t always work out to plan. Safe trip back to Scotland

    1. Thanks John. We are just going to take any opportunity we can to move onwards. Hopefully a short hop tonight if the wind drops below a 6.

  7. Dear Alasdair,
    Really bad luck to be having the worst season for decades. We have seen all the muck on the weather charts tracking east across the top of the highs that have given us the hot weather for so many weeks.
    Surely a good and brave decision to return in good time and hope you get some fair winds home and at least some enjoyable sailing in your beautiful Vertue. Pretty impressive to be circumnavigating Iceland in any case!

    1. Hi Roger, I have circumnavigated Iceland in the past but this time we are trying to back out the way we came in. I say trying because there are a few headlands that need rounding in “settled weather” and “slack tide” – getting those to align is rather tricky!

    2. Hi Roger, I have circumnavigated Iceland in the past but this time we are trying to back out the way we came in. I say trying because there are a few headlands that need rounding in “settled weather” and “slack tide” – getting those to align is rather tricky!

  8. Hi Alasdair
    So sorry you haven’t been able to make it to Greenland. Good luck for the return journey to Scotland & maybe try again another year?

    1. Hi Deb, Yes, maybe another day but right now we need a bit of a break in the weather to get back to Scotland. I’ll be glad to see the Hebrides again!

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