Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Prins Christian Sund - 2 months to go.

The passage through Prins Christian Sund will be a key part of our summer cruise and we are watching the ice conditions carefully. In two months we leave Ideland for the last time and sail down Greenland's east coast to enter PCS. In this beautifully satellite photo published today the entrance is clearly seen - still choked by sea ice. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Monday, 8 May 2017

Glittering Fjords and wonderful wilderness

Glittering Fjords and wonderful wilderness.

Overnight the fog melted away and we were awakened by a shaft of brilliant sunshine in our cabin. Bed tea followed soon afterward by a lazy Sunday breakfast. It's a hard life in the wilderness.

It was a perfect day so we pulled on our walking boots and set off across the bogs and followed streams gushing with meltwater towards Geldingafell via the col to it's east. Bog quickly gave way to boulders strewn with exuberant growths of lichens, mosses and squelchy mud. We climbed up onto the snow patches and watched a plume of fog temporarily engulf the boat a couple of hundred metres below us. Mostly though the air was clear and views spectacular.

The last three hundred metres to the col were a trudge up softening snow until we regained the ridge where the wind had blasted away all but the rocks and lichens. The summit itself was another one hundred and fifty metres of rock, mud and snow. To the north below us was a snow filled valley and a rescue hut on the shoreline then the blue Arctic Ocean stretching away to the fog belts lurking offshore. To the south fjords and snowy mountains, their tops scraped soft by ancient ice, marched inland to the Drangajokull Icecap. A fantastic place to be.

We descended quickly down the now soft snowfields and some of us were soon back at the shore washing away the sweat in the frigid meltwater streams. Afternoon tea back on the boat ended a perfect expedition.

We pulled in a forecast which mentioned mid week southerly gales so we have decided upon an early Monday departure for Isafjordur 25 miles away. That should give us plenty of time to settle the boat onto her mooring and prepare her for the next phase of her summer adventures.

On 15th July we will fly back to Isafjordur and set about an ambitious cruise to Tasilaq on the East Coast of Greenland then south and through Prins Christian Sund and then north up Greenland's West Coast to Aasiaat in the Arctic. That is if luck, the weather, the ice conditions or the boat maintenance trolls don't decide otherwise!

Back in the Hornstrandir National Park for the 4th time

Back in the Hornstrandir National Park for the 4th time.

Strong winds and generally wintery and unpleasant weather kept us tied to the dock in Reykjavik for longer than we had planned but the time there was well spent. There was the obligatory trip to the hot tubs and outdoor pool as well a  successful mission to source a new rotor for the wind generator. Now the old blades fit and we are carrying a spare set!

Our last night in Reykjavik was one of culture. Tim & Heather bought us tickets for a performance of "Icelandic Sagas - the greatest hit".  Two very energetic actors romped through  all of the Icelandic sagas in 75 minutes performing to an international audience in the Harpa. Great fun followed by ice creams on the dock.

The winter cobweb of mooring lines, fenders and car tyres started to come off as the wind died and, at 07.30am on Friday, we let go the wharf and motored out into Reykjavik harbour. The throttle stuttered as we passed the Opera House but soon came back to life and then we were out, once more, into the open sea. 

The Reykjavik skyline sparkled in the morning sun and at first the SE breeze pushed us on our way but that died away sooner than forecast and the fog came in. The familiar drone of the engine came on and tested patience for 30 misty hours until the anchor went down in the West Fjords.

We caught up with boat chores on Saturday morning until the sun burned away the fog and revealed the beauty of the fjord in which we were anchored. Perfect calm with no noise except the gush of a melt water stream, the trumpeting of swans and the crooning of eider duck. The hilltops were still caked with wet winter snow but spring was busily emerging from the lower slopes. Everywhere a rich carpet of mosses and lichens. An occasional avalanche from the corniced ridges sent giant snowballs floating past us on the morning tide. A lovely relaxing day at anchor in the far northwest corner of Iceland.

After a sunlit supper the fog rolled down the fjord smothering us with a dense, cold blanket and reducing visibility to 25m. As we went to bed I fretted about navigating out of the fjord in dense fog with a compass that complained of a "huge deviation". Sure enough I had noticed, whilst sitting on a large rock, a small magnet I was carrying stuck to the rock. There's plenty here to fool the navigator!