Blog Archive

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Beach Party from the drone

view of the glacier at Charcot Havn

Hairbells in the tundra

icebergs

waiting for the tender with gun at the ready

Rod on bear protection duty

Wild flowers in the wonderful lichen rich vegitation

strolling on the hills above Charcot Havn

The glacier at Charcot Bay

Shimshal at anchor in Charcot Havn

Heading into the inner fjord

Heading into the inner fjord

We spent Friday night anchored off the village of Ittottoqqoromitt and had a few hours ashore exploring this frontier town. Released from the ice in July it has a few short weeks to re-supply before the Autumn storms move in during September and then the long, hard winter. The supply ship is due in from Aarhus, Denmark, on Tuesday and that is said to be a time of great celebration as the first fresh fruit and vegetables will be landed for 10 months.

Brian Black (s/v Seafra), whom we had met in Husavik last summer, was anchored there ready to sail back to Scotland. He and his friend Eric had been cruising the inner fjord this summer and gave us a lot of tips about anchorages but warned us of mosquitos. They had the bites to prove that these were no false warnings.

We met the two Dons who had flown in with their Feathercraft K2 double kayak and had been paddling around the north shore of Milne Land. They were retired Canadians who seemed to have paddled most places.

On Saturday we welcomed aboard two boat handlers, Peter and Tom, who had been driving the logistics boats for Tangent Expeditions. They had dropped climbers off in the Cathedral Ranges and we're taking some well earned leave in the town. Sadly the town had closed down for the weekend and not even a shower was possible until Monday! We enticed them out to our anchorage for a hot cup of tea and cake plus some respite from the cold wind which they seemed to appreciate. They were heading back to Constable Point which is their HQ for the summer.

In town we checked out the supermarket and Nanu Travel and informed Jasper the policeman of our presence. We took a walk up to the weather station where they launch the weather balloon twice a day. Eric was the resident meteorologist who suggested persisting north easterlies were likely to remain for the foreseeable future.

On Friday evening s/v Imram arrived with 6 French crew. They had left Isafjordur a day ahead of us and had spent a couple of nights anchored on the Blosseville Coast where they had been quite un-nerved by a couple of polar bears swimming around their boat. They would soon be leaving for Isafjordur.

A chilly breeze blew most of the night we spent at anchor and most of Saturday but died away on Saturday afternoon. We pumped 150 litres of diesel out of our new tank into the main fuel tank and had no need to take on more fuel. Our crew are turning out to be very frugal water users so we didn't need to go through the difficult task of ferrying out hundreds of litres of water which would have been substantial task. A shame though that the showers were closed!

Heading west we dodged our way through a dozen or so grounded ice bergs on the north side of the fjord before passing the entrance to Hurry Fjord and more open water. Our plan is to sail over night and anchor on Bear Island on the rising tide during Sunday morning.

Today we sailed off the chart

We are now 70 miles inside the longest fjord system in the world and seriously off piste! The image shows our approach to our current anchorage, Charcot Bay on eastern Milne Land. The astute will notice that we are sailing over the land and that the pink radar image reveals the real bay 1.5 miles further north. We have literally sailed off the chart!

Despite the chart inaccuracies we entered the silty waters leaving a clear furrow of churned water in our wake. The glacier has receded 1/2 mile up the valley leaving mud flats large enough to show up on Google Earth. We are anchored in 15 metres depth 100 metres from the shore.

When the crew awaken after their overnight passage we will go ashore for some, hopefully spectacular, drone photography. This time we won't forget to take the gun as we are no longer at the top of the food chain in these waters!

Today we sailed off the chart

We are now 70 miles inside the longest fjord system in the world and seriously off piste! The image shows our approach to our current anchorage, Charcot Bay on eastern Milne Land. The astute will notice that we are sailing over the land and that the pink radar image reveals the real bay 1.5 miles further north. We have literally sailed off the chart!

Despite the chart inaccuracies we entered the silty waters leaving a clear furrow of churned water in our wake. The glacier has receded 1/2 mile up the valley leaving mud flats large enough to show up on Google Earth. We are anchored in 15 metres depth 100 metres from the shore.

When the crew awaken after their overnight passage we will go ashore for some, hopefully spectacular, drone photography. This time we won't forget to take the gun as we are no longer at the top of the food chain in these waters!

Today we sailed off the chart

We are now 70 miles inside the longest fjord system in the world and seriously off piste! The image shows our approach to our current anchorage, Charcot Bay on eastern Milne Land. The astute will notice that we are sailing over the land and that the pink radar image reveals the real bay 1.5 miles further north. We have literally sailed off the chart!

Despite the chart inaccuracies we entered the silty waters leaving a clear furrow of churned water in our wake. The glacier has receded 1/2 mile up the valley leaving mud flats large enough to show up on Google Earth. We are anchored in 15 metres depth 100 metres from the shore.

When the crew awaken after their overnight passage we will go ashore for some, hopefully spectacular, drone photography. This time we won't forget to take the gun as we are no longer at the top of the food chain in these waters!

On the Kap Tobin Peninsular

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Heading into the inner fjord

Heading into the inner fjord

We spent Friday night anchored off the village of Ittottoqqoromitt and had a few hours ashore exploring this frontier town. Released from the ice in July it has a few short weeks to re-supply before the Autumn storms move in during September and then the long, hard winter. The supply ship is due in from Aarhus, Denmark, on Tuesday and that is said to be a time of great celebration as the first fresh fruit and vegetables will be landed for 10 months.

Brian Black (s/v Seafra), whom we had met in Hussavik last summer, was anchored there ready to sail back to Scotland. He and his friend Eric had been cruising the inner fjord this summer and gave us a lot of tips about anchorages but warned us if mosquitos. They had the bites to prove that these were no false warnings.

We met the two Dons who had flown in with their Feathercraft K2 double kayak and had been paddling around the north shore of Milne Land. They were retired Canadians who seemed to have paddled most places.

On Saturday we welcomed aboard two boat handlers, Peter and Tom, who had been driving the logistics boats for Tangent Expeditions. They had dropped climbers off in the Cathedral Ranges and we're taking some well earned leave in the town. Sadly the town had closed down for the weekend and not even a shower was possible until Monday! We enticed them out to our anchorage for a hot cup of tea and some respite from the cold wind which they seemed to appreciate. They were heading back to Constable Point which is their HQ for the summer.

In town we checked out the supermarket and Nanu Travel and informed Jasper the policeman of our presence. We took a walk up to the weather station where they launch the weather balloon twice a day. Eric was the resident meteorologist who suggested persisting north easterlies were likely to remain for the foreseeable future.

On Friday evening s/v Imram arrived with 6 French crew. They had left Isafjordur a day ahead of us and had spent a couple of night anchored on the Blosseville Coast where they had been quite un-nerved by a couple of polar bears swimming around their boat. They would soon be leaving for Isafjordur.

A chilly breeze blew most of the night we spent at anchor and most of Saturday but died away on Saturday afternoon. We pumped 150 litres of diesel out of our new tank into the main fuel tank and had no need to take on more fuel. Our crew are turning out to be very frugal water users so we didn't need to go through the difficult task of ferrying out hundreds of litres of water which would have been substantial task. A shame though that the showers were closed!

Heading west we dodged our way through a dozen or so grounded ice bergs on the north side of the fjord before passing the entrance to Hurry Fjord and more open water. Our plan is to sail over night and anchor on at Bear Island on the rising tide during Sunday morning.

Denzil on watch

Sally at sea - and not sick!

Ittoqqortoromitt

Volquaart Boon Kyst

iceberg on the approach to first anchorage

looking south west across Scoresby Sound

Rod leaving Isafjordur

Blindfold bear protection practice

Whales in the Denmark Strait

Arrival in Greenland

At 5am on Friday morning the anchor went down into soft mud in Fox Bay a mile south of Ittortorquormitt. The scenery was sensational and the weather superb. The first shore party broke several 'rules if thumb' but thankfully came to no harm.

What an amazing place this is!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Whales everywhere!

By mid afternoon we were well into the icebergs and still about 40 miles east of Greenland's coast. Massive castles of ice hundreds of metres high and thousands of metres long drifting gently south on the East Greenland Polar Current. With these stately nomads of the sea came a few growlers and bergy bits. It was whilst we were keeping an extra special lookout for them that we noticed we were suddenly surrounded by spouts of steam and water.

At least 20 huge marine mammals were lumbering around the boat in all directions. Spouting, tail slapping and, occasionally, breaching all within a very few metres of us. Anxious not to collide with one crossing our bow we stopped the boat and marvelled at this wild and wonderful welcome to Greenland.

As they fell behind us the horizon remained alive with spouting eruptions of water and mist.

And then came the land. Thus far Greenland had hid itself in a swathe of frigid cloud despite the good weather we were enjoying at sea. Then, 30 miles off, we saw the black shapes of mountains lacerated by enormous glaciers reaching up into the clouds. Some of the mountains on this wild and remote coast are over 3,000 metres high so we are hoping for a spectacular sail-by when we choose our window to sail south.

Despite 2 days at sea everyone is in high spirits and can't wait to see what morning brings when we should be at anchor in a sheltered bay on the north side of Scoresby Sound.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

midnight sunset

We spent a calm and peaceful night at anchor in a bay just south of the north westerly tip of Iceland. The alarm went off at 4am and the anchor came up with a light dressing of weed. The wind was of course blowing directly fro Scoresby Sound so we set off, close hauled and motor sailing on a course of 340. Quickly we were into murky drizzle with wind to 18kn but that gave way to a clear and overcast day.

At 10.30 we tacked east to gain some eastings.

Rules of thumb

Between us the crew of Shimshal has 8 thumbs which is just as well as, this morning at 9am, we were visited by Maik Brotzman our excellent land based ice and high latitude pilot. He showered us with pearls of wisdom and each was a "rule of thumb" which quickly meant that we were soon pretty short of any kind of digit with which to record his his rules. Discerning the malign or benign intent of polar bears, the signs of an approaching iceberg in the fog, polar lows, catabatic winds of mind boggling power and how to approach the ice pack. The rules just kept coming. We really did enjoy his visited and are delighted that he will be guiding us from afar but there was lots of nervous laughter abroad as is often the case when about to embark on a complicated and extremely remote adventure.

At noon we let go the lines and motored around to the fuel berth where we spent an hour fuelling the boat. It all took a lot longer than expected as the big new fuel tank was not not venting properly. Never before has Shimshal been loaded up like this for an off piste adventure. When we motored north from the fuel dock into an 18 knot northerly wind we had the following supplies on board:

Fuel:
600 litres of diesel in the converted tank below the saloon
250 litres of diesel in the main in built fuel tank
100 litres of diesel in the aft auxiliary tank
200 litres in a barrel lashed in the cockpit
140 litres in jerry cans.
In total 1300 litres of diesel!

Water:
600 litres in four separate tanks one of which is a 200 litre one that can be taken ashore and filled to refresh the in built ones.

Food:
Meals for four people for a month plus quite a bit to spare

Other bits of kit specific for these waters:

3 big anchors and a lot of chain and warps.

In addition to our normal tender we have a two man kayak in case a bear takes a fancy to our only means of getting from shore to boat.

A very powerful rifle and 25 rounds of ammunition in case we happen across a very angry bear. We also have complete pack of flares to scare the bears off first.

Diving gear to retrieve stuck anchors.

Spares and tools to fix things in huge quantities.

Never before has Shimshal laboured under such a load and yet she has swallowed the lot and, as I write, is carrying us to our first anchorage at the very north west tip of Iceland. An early start tomorrow will see us head north for 280 miles to a land of adventure and excitement.

Picture shows first meal at anchor - Lamb Balti.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Job, jobs & more jobs!

The flight to Isafjordur is famed for the thrills of the final approach. It didn't disappoint! We flew up the narrow fjord the turned through 180 degrees before the valley ran out and then dropped onto the runway moments after coming out of the turn.

We knew we had a list of 30 jobs to do before we could sail on Tuesday and, true to form, the boat threw in some surprises. The fridge wouldn't start sending Sally into a catering crisis. We summoned a fridge engineer whereupon the fridge started. Once again the boat had fixed itself.

Next we discovered that the engine starting battery had died so on went the generator and, after a few hours, we were able to move to the dock. Today we go battery shopping.

Our crew have risen to the various challenges as we get the boat expedition ready. Furler sorted, sub aerial reconnected, solar panels on ........

Sally has been busy with Rod in the supermarkets and they quickly discovered a couple of other boats had cleaned out the supermarkets. No eggs left in Isafjordur and we took their last litre of UHT!

Saturday, 23 July 2016

That sinking feeling - a lot of kit a a little anxiety!

Once again we squeezed our out sized bags onto the check-in at Birmingham airport. This time it was two plastic barrels stuffed with bread mix and packed into expedition sized Ortlieb kit bags. It occurred to me that if we always take this much luggage with us each time we fly back to the boat then, sooner or later, it is going sink under the load!

After months of planning and preparation it is, finally, time to go. The ice is as good as it has been for a century and even the weather is looking benign. So it looks like a green light for Greenland just as soon as we have crammed the boat with food and fuel sufficient for four weeks without chance of re-supply. 

Sally is in charge of provisioning and, predictably, has concocted a complex spreadsheet predicting the exact amount of weetabix required - none so far as I am concerned! I am going to buy some fishing lures and surprise everyone with a copious supply of Cod and Arctic Char. Given previous experience however it's probably a good idea we have the weetabix calculator!

We have a lot of jobs to accomplish over the next couple of days as well as provisioning and, at 4pm Monday, we are off to the firing range to get Rod and Denzil accustomed to our awesome fire power. The polar bears are going to be very hungry this year as the sea ice, their hunting ground, melted much earlier than usual.

So much to do and much excitement tinged, as ever, with not a little nervousness.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Iridium contact details, ice & weather information

We are just setting up our various satellite phone accounts.

We can receive text messages (no attachments) sent by email to 881623460917(use the@ sign here) msg.iridium.com

We have an email address that can accept attachments of modest size and if you want to send us a file such as an ice chart or a satellite photo then please write to us on the above address and we will send you our other email address. Please compress attachments to around 100k as anything larger will clog up our system.

We can receive voice calls on ++881623460917 but please be aware calls to this number will be very expensive.

Our AIS position is displayed on this website by selecting the AIS tab

Our Satellite Track is displayed on this website by selecting the Satellite Tack tab

Ice Charts
Greenland ice charts over view
North East Greenland Ice Chart
Satellite photos of Inner Scoresby Sound
Satellite Photo of Outer Scoresby Sound

Weather
Denmark Strait Weather 
Denmark Strait Satellite Photo
Denmark Strait zoomed in satellite photo
Wind Chart for Denmark Strait
Text based forecast for West Banks (North) note wind speeds are in metres per second
Ittoqqortoormiit weather
Tasiilaq Weather
Greenland Sea Areas Weather Forecast we will be in sea area KANGKIKAJIK when we cruise to Scoresby Sound and if we go south towards Tasiilak we will be APUTITEEQ and KULUSUK (Tasiilak is jut inside Kulusuk) All wind speeds are in metres//ssecond.

We will hopefully be able to download our own detailed weather information from www.PredictWind.com

Planned Route within Scoresby Sound
The intended route starts and finishes at Ittoqqortootmiit which is the only permanent inhabitation in the the Scoresby Sound which, at 300km long, is the longest fjord system in the world.
Planned rout within Scoresby Sound