Arctic Monkey Adventure

Arctic Monkey is a Garcia Exploration 45 on her way to the north. Plans include Orkney and Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and a possible Northwest Passage to Alaska in the summer of 2015.

Vessel Name: Arctic Monkey
Vessel Make/Model: Garcia Exploration 45
Hailing Port: Oconomowoc, WI
Crew: Zetty, Zoe, Leah, Rose Morgan, Susie Theis, Ian Jansing
Social:
17 August 2015 | St. Lewis, Labradora
16 August 2015 | Labrador Sea
14 August 2015 | Labrador Sea
12 August 2015 | Labrador Sea
08 August 2015 | Disko Island to Nuuk
01 August 2015 | Ilulissat, Greenland/Disko Island
25 July 2015 | Aasiaat, Greenland
25 July 2015 | Aasiaat, Greenland
22 July 2015 | Ukiivik, Greenland
19 July 2015 | Sisimiut, Greenland
09 July 2015 | Nuuk, Greenland
08 July 2015 | Reykjavik, Iceland to Nuuk, Greenland
07 July 2015 | Reykjavik, Iceland to Nuuk, Greenland
04 July 2015 | Reykjavik, Iceland to Nuuk, Greenland
01 July 2015 | Reykjavik, Iceland to Nuuk, Greenland
30 June 2015 | Reykjavik, Iceland
23 June 2015 | Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
23 June 2015 | Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
21 June 2015 | North Atlantic Ocean
20 June 2015 | Norwegian Sea, North Atlantic Ocean
Recent Blog Posts
17 August 2015 | St. Lewis, Labradora

North America

We've landed safely in St. Lewis, Labrador Canada, the eastern most permanent settlement on the North American continent. Rough night with squalls moving through until 6am, anchor watch all night. We're on to Battle Harbor, St. Anthony's and Lewisporte this week.

16 August 2015 | Labrador Sea

'O Canada

'O Canada As we closed in on Canada two nights ago, I went out for my usual ¬"deck check¬" when I came on watch at 3am. A strange but familiar smell hit me even though we were still 180 miles from land, TREES! A distinct smell of trees and earth wafted through the breeze, a smell we haven't had since leaving Scotland some two and a half month ago. Most of the Arctic and sub-arctic we've been to, Faroe's, Iceland and Greenland don't have trees. Either they were over logged for wood by the first settlers, (Iceland and maybe Faroes?) or they are basically rocks with a small amount of soil here and there, no place for a tree to get anchored against the winter winds. I couldn't live in the Arctic. I associate long cold winter nights with a warm fire and possibly a hot toddy or two. The toddy would cost $15 a pop and a cord of hardwood might cost 10k to ship in! The next thing to reveal itself were the stars and the bats. As we move south, not only do we regain darkness from the change in season but also from the loss in latitude. These factors compound quickly and we transitioned from 24 hours of light to almost 6 hours of complete darkness in only a week. Ian and I nicknamed the bats ¬"moose bats¬" as they seem much larger than Wisconsin bats and are quite vocal. Along with the stars, that were a fantastic by product of this change, came the Aurora Borealis or northern lights. Beautiful pulsing waves of greenish light through the sky lasting for nearly four hours, one show better than the last. We woke Zoe up to see the spectacle and she joined us wide eyed and awe inspired for a short while before she got cold and tired and retreated to her cozy bunk. I don't have a camera that can capture the night sky but Susie tried with her big rig and got a few good pictures from the rolling boat. It's an absolutely amazing sight from offshore minus all the ambient light, we are truly lucky. We're closing in on Fox Harbor in the town of St. Lewis on the southeast coast of Labrador, Canada, only 30 miles to go. ETA 18:00 Atlantic Time.

14 August 2015 | Labrador Sea

Half Way to Canada

Labrador Sea We celebrated our halfway mark across the Labrador Sea last night with a little party. We did a ceremonial changing of chart cards in the plotter, flew the Canadian curtesy flag and ate one of the boats favorite dinners. I made corn beef hash and eggs and Zetty made a pineapple upside-down cake with strawberry rhubarb sauce. Sailing wise we've had a little bit of everything so far, 20-30 knots of gusty northwest beam reach (1 day), 4 knots on the nose motoring (1 day) and now southerly 10-13 knots upwind (2 days). We saw stars for the first time in months, it's finally dark enough and the northern lights made an appearance last night. Our ETA in Fox Harbor, Labrador Canada is 2200UTC Sunday August 16.

12 August 2015 | Labrador Sea

Nuuk, Greenland - Fox Harbor, Labrador Canada

Nuuk, Greenland - Fox Harbor, Labrador Canada Sometimes you get lucky. That was the case when we sailed into Nuuk for the third time. There were eight yachts already rafted up to various fishing boats along the Kutterkaj (dock) so we picked the raft with the least amount of boats. It's always kind of fun to be next to a famous person and in this case we nailed it in terms of the ¬"Arctic high latitude sailing world.¬" Lady Dana 44 was our inside boat, one of the first sail boats to circumnavigate the North Pole (2013-14) and so far the first Polish boat to do so. It's skippered by Ryszard Wojnowski, leader of the Polish Sailing Team. They helped us with our lines and invited us over for a party later that evening. We got a little nap in, had dinner and went over when the music started. Daniel, one of their crew around the North Pole, is a very accomplished guitar player and was strumming away at various covers and Polish/Russian folks songs. Our course you can't be on a Polish boat without a few Vodka shots, something they call a MadDog. Vodka, Raspberry Syrup and TABSCO. Let's just say, I slid out at 2am, and I had a bit of a headache the next day. Everyone had so much fun the night before that Ryszard (Richard) invited everyone over again to watch the movie on their North Pole circumnavigation. Wow, what a movie, what a trip, what an experience. My personal favorite highlight was when Richard's son Mikael, a concert pianist, is playing an electronic keyboard in the cockpit of the boat, somewhere high on the northern Russian coast with a herd of maybe 20 walruses bobbing in the water behind the boat listening! I think they have the movie on YouTube if you search Lady Dana North Pole. We met up with our French friends, Rene and Prisca along with their 4 year old daughter Margot who were also rafted up ahead of us. Most of the boats were waiting out some rough weather and the kids used the time for a play date or three. They left a day ahead of us heading to same port in Labrador, Fox Harbor. We left Nuuk after taking on water and fuel, clearing out of customs and immigration, bound for Fox Harbor. You know you may have been in Nuuk and Greenland long enough when on the way out I asked Ian, ¬"the usual route out to sea?¬" It's a five day trip across and we hopefully had our first and last rough weather last night, winds were a cold gusty northwesterly twenty to thirty knots. Today begins our second day with eight to fifteen knots from the west-northwest. ETA Fox Harbor, Sunday August 17.

08 August 2015 | Disko Island to Nuuk

On our way south below the Arctic Circle

Godhavn - Sisimiut - Kangerlussuatsiaq - Nuuk. When we last left you, we had sailed into Godhavn on Disko Island. The kids did have a little disco dance party, complete with costumes on the way in. We took a little walk around the town and found the playground at the school but it was conspicuously quiet for a Saturday. At what seems to be the height of the season up here, the supermarket had closed by 2pm and the museum was closed on weekends. None of the caf√©s were open. The harbor reminded me of a mini Cape Town with tall table top mountains surrounding the inland side. The next day we sailed to Sisimiut to fill with water as I haven't been able to fix the water maker. We did a quick overnight at our usual spot in Sisimiut, arranged to take on water at the fish factory and went for a swim with the girls at the local pool. We met Emmanuel from S/V La Chimere, the 27 year old self- described ¬"Crazy Frenchman¬" sailing singlehanded with his sights on the Northwest Passage this year. He knows it'll be late before he gets through but after hearing where the guy has sailed and the seasons he's sailed them, I don't think he'll have a problem. He's also prepared to winter over Bob Shepton style, in a cove or bay near a settlement, boat iced in for the winter. We have his satellite phone number in case he needs a care package! We then went on in the fog (lots of it again now going south as the water temp. goes down to about 3- 5C) to Kangerlussuatsiaq (Evighedsfjord). Every place in Greenland has an Inuit name and a Danish name, the Inuit name now taking precedent since the country became self-governing in 2009. Very often, as in this case, neither name is easily pronounced and so we called it the 'Dog leg fjord' due to its interesting shape. As we approached the fjord entrance at 5am, there was still considerable fog with visibility only 30 meters, so we opted to continue on 10 miles farther to an anchorage (Appamuit) we had used coming north. I knew I could find it in the fog and it was nice and sheltered for a little sleep. As we arrived and started looking for a spot, we noticed another boat there! It is a rare occurrence here in Greenland to find more than one boat in an anchorage unless previously planned. A few hour of sleep and an eggs and bacon breakfast down the hatch, Wolf and Doris from SV Nomad motored over in their dinghy. We had a nice chat and planned to meet them in the fiord the next day. The fog lifted a little inshore, it tends to hang about 1-2 miles offshore, so we started back north to the fjord. We anchored that night in Tasiussaq, a little cove with stunning views but marginal holding at best in a rocky bottom. There wasn't much wind and it was away from the mountains so Katabatic winds were less likely. The plan was to grill sausages for dinner but as luck would have it, it was just a little too windy for the gas boat grill so into the frying pan they went. The next day we were rewarded with a spectacular sail up to the head of the Taateraat Sermiat glacier meeting Nomad for pictures. We got within about 100 meters of the face, very scary as we looked skyward upon the scared face where icebergs calve off. The other interesting item is that the depth sounder acted very erratically. It was probably due to all the glacial till in the water giving false readings - at least I think they were, we didn't go aground and never saw the bottom. We did a little motoring further into the fjord to the south to view the steep mountains on both sides. After looking at the weather forecast we decided to head for Nuuk a little early and set sail back into the fog for an overnight sail. We'll probably sit out some gale force winds as a low pressure slides over us in Nuuk, and leave around the 10th for somewhere south, maybe Qaqortoq or even possibly Canada if we get a good window.

01 August 2015 | Ilulissat, Greenland/Disko Island

Iceberging Extreme

OK, take two on the blog post, the first edit mysteriously disappeared when I minimized the window.

North America

17 August 2015 | St. Lewis, Labradora
Lou Morgan
We've landed safely in St. Lewis, Labrador Canada, the eastern most permanent settlement on the North American continent. Rough night with squalls moving through until 6am, anchor watch all night. We're on to Battle Harbor, St. Anthony's and Lewisporte this week.

Lou

'O Canada

16 August 2015 | Labrador Sea
Lou Morgan
'O Canada As we closed in on Canada two nights ago, I went out for my usual ¬"deck check¬" when I came on watch at 3am. A strange but familiar smell hit me even though we were still 180 miles from land, TREES! A distinct smell of trees and earth wafted through the breeze, a smell we haven't had since leaving Scotland some two and a half month ago. Most of the Arctic and sub-arctic we've been to, Faroe's, Iceland and Greenland don't have trees. Either they were over logged for wood by the first settlers, (Iceland and maybe Faroes?) or they are basically rocks with a small amount of soil here and there, no place for a tree to get anchored against the winter winds. I couldn't live in the Arctic. I associate long cold winter nights with a warm fire and possibly a hot toddy or two. The toddy would cost $15 a pop and a cord of hardwood might cost 10k to ship in! The next thing to reveal itself were the stars and the bats. As we move south, not only do we regain darkness from the change in season but also from the loss in latitude. These factors compound quickly and we transitioned from 24 hours of light to almost 6 hours of complete darkness in only a week. Ian and I nicknamed the bats ¬"moose bats¬" as they seem much larger than Wisconsin bats and are quite vocal. Along with the stars, that were a fantastic by product of this change, came the Aurora Borealis or northern lights. Beautiful pulsing waves of greenish light through the sky lasting for nearly four hours, one show better than the last. We woke Zoe up to see the spectacle and she joined us wide eyed and awe inspired for a short while before she got cold and tired and retreated to her cozy bunk. I don't have a camera that can capture the night sky but Susie tried with her big rig and got a few good pictures from the rolling boat. It's an absolutely amazing sight from offshore minus all the ambient light, we are truly lucky. We're closing in on Fox Harbor in the town of St. Lewis on the southeast coast of Labrador, Canada, only 30 miles to go. ETA 18:00 Atlantic Time.

Half Way to Canada

14 August 2015 | Labrador Sea
Lou Morgan
Labrador Sea We celebrated our halfway mark across the Labrador Sea last night with a little party. We did a ceremonial changing of chart cards in the plotter, flew the Canadian curtesy flag and ate one of the boats favorite dinners. I made corn beef hash and eggs and Zetty made a pineapple upside-down cake with strawberry rhubarb sauce. Sailing wise we've had a little bit of everything so far, 20-30 knots of gusty northwest beam reach (1 day), 4 knots on the nose motoring (1 day) and now southerly 10-13 knots upwind (2 days). We saw stars for the first time in months, it's finally dark enough and the northern lights made an appearance last night. Our ETA in Fox Harbor, Labrador Canada is 2200UTC Sunday August 16.

Nuuk, Greenland - Fox Harbor, Labrador Canada

12 August 2015 | Labrador Sea
Lou Morgan
Nuuk, Greenland - Fox Harbor, Labrador Canada Sometimes you get lucky. That was the case when we sailed into Nuuk for the third time. There were eight yachts already rafted up to various fishing boats along the Kutterkaj (dock) so we picked the raft with the least amount of boats. It's always kind of fun to be next to a famous person and in this case we nailed it in terms of the ¬"Arctic high latitude sailing world.¬" Lady Dana 44 was our inside boat, one of the first sail boats to circumnavigate the North Pole (2013-14) and so far the first Polish boat to do so. It's skippered by Ryszard Wojnowski, leader of the Polish Sailing Team. They helped us with our lines and invited us over for a party later that evening. We got a little nap in, had dinner and went over when the music started. Daniel, one of their crew around the North Pole, is a very accomplished guitar player and was strumming away at various covers and Polish/Russian folks songs. Our course you can't be on a Polish boat without a few Vodka shots, something they call a MadDog. Vodka, Raspberry Syrup and TABSCO. Let's just say, I slid out at 2am, and I had a bit of a headache the next day. Everyone had so much fun the night before that Ryszard (Richard) invited everyone over again to watch the movie on their North Pole circumnavigation. Wow, what a movie, what a trip, what an experience. My personal favorite highlight was when Richard's son Mikael, a concert pianist, is playing an electronic keyboard in the cockpit of the boat, somewhere high on the northern Russian coast with a herd of maybe 20 walruses bobbing in the water behind the boat listening! I think they have the movie on YouTube if you search Lady Dana North Pole. We met up with our French friends, Rene and Prisca along with their 4 year old daughter Margot who were also rafted up ahead of us. Most of the boats were waiting out some rough weather and the kids used the time for a play date or three. They left a day ahead of us heading to same port in Labrador, Fox Harbor. We left Nuuk after taking on water and fuel, clearing out of customs and immigration, bound for Fox Harbor. You know you may have been in Nuuk and Greenland long enough when on the way out I asked Ian, ¬"the usual route out to sea?¬" It's a five day trip across and we hopefully had our first and last rough weather last night, winds were a cold gusty northwesterly twenty to thirty knots. Today begins our second day with eight to fifteen knots from the west-northwest. ETA Fox Harbor, Sunday August 17.

On our way south below the Arctic Circle

08 August 2015 | Disko Island to Nuuk
Lou Morgan
Godhavn - Sisimiut - Kangerlussuatsiaq - Nuuk. When we last left you, we had sailed into Godhavn on Disko Island. The kids did have a little disco dance party, complete with costumes on the way in. We took a little walk around the town and found the playground at the school but it was conspicuously quiet for a Saturday. At what seems to be the height of the season up here, the supermarket had closed by 2pm and the museum was closed on weekends. None of the caf√©s were open. The harbor reminded me of a mini Cape Town with tall table top mountains surrounding the inland side. The next day we sailed to Sisimiut to fill with water as I haven't been able to fix the water maker. We did a quick overnight at our usual spot in Sisimiut, arranged to take on water at the fish factory and went for a swim with the girls at the local pool. We met Emmanuel from S/V La Chimere, the 27 year old self- described ¬"Crazy Frenchman¬" sailing singlehanded with his sights on the Northwest Passage this year. He knows it'll be late before he gets through but after hearing where the guy has sailed and the seasons he's sailed them, I don't think he'll have a problem. He's also prepared to winter over Bob Shepton style, in a cove or bay near a settlement, boat iced in for the winter. We have his satellite phone number in case he needs a care package! We then went on in the fog (lots of it again now going south as the water temp. goes down to about 3- 5C) to Kangerlussuatsiaq (Evighedsfjord). Every place in Greenland has an Inuit name and a Danish name, the Inuit name now taking precedent since the country became self-governing in 2009. Very often, as in this case, neither name is easily pronounced and so we called it the 'Dog leg fjord' due to its interesting shape. As we approached the fjord entrance at 5am, there was still considerable fog with visibility only 30 meters, so we opted to continue on 10 miles farther to an anchorage (Appamuit) we had used coming north. I knew I could find it in the fog and it was nice and sheltered for a little sleep. As we arrived and started looking for a spot, we noticed another boat there! It is a rare occurrence here in Greenland to find more than one boat in an anchorage unless previously planned. A few hour of sleep and an eggs and bacon breakfast down the hatch, Wolf and Doris from SV Nomad motored over in their dinghy. We had a nice chat and planned to meet them in the fiord the next day. The fog lifted a little inshore, it tends to hang about 1-2 miles offshore, so we started back north to the fjord. We anchored that night in Tasiussaq, a little cove with stunning views but marginal holding at best in a rocky bottom. There wasn't much wind and it was away from the mountains so Katabatic winds were less likely. The plan was to grill sausages for dinner but as luck would have it, it was just a little too windy for the gas boat grill so into the frying pan they went. The next day we were rewarded with a spectacular sail up to the head of the Taateraat Sermiat glacier meeting Nomad for pictures. We got within about 100 meters of the face, very scary as we looked skyward upon the scared face where icebergs calve off. The other interesting item is that the depth sounder acted very erratically. It was probably due to all the glacial till in the water giving false readings - at least I think they were, we didn't go aground and never saw the bottom. We did a little motoring further into the fjord to the south to view the steep mountains on both sides. After looking at the weather forecast we decided to head for Nuuk a little early and set sail back into the fog for an overnight sail. We'll probably sit out some gale force winds as a low pressure slides over us in Nuuk, and leave around the 10th for somewhere south, maybe Qaqortoq or even possibly Canada if we get a good window.

Iceberging Extreme

01 August 2015 | Ilulissat, Greenland/Disko Island
Lou Morgan
OK, take two on the blog post, the first edit mysteriously disappeared when I minimized the window.

When I was a kid, growing up on the shores of Lac La Belle in Oconomowoc, WI, one of the most fun times of the year was when the ice on the lake would start to thaw and break up. All of the boys would launch any type of small boat or windsurfer board, grab a handful of shear pins and go out into the "icebergs." We called it bergin' and would go out for hours, banging, smashing, jump on and off and sometimes falling in the ice. The fun would only last a couple of days, maybe a week before the ice was completely gone until next year. Little did I know that these experiences would come back to me forty year later, and so the story goes..

We left Aasiaat and sailed for Ikamiut, 28 miles to the east. We spent the night anchored in a tight bay, entirely sheltered, complete with a beach full of whale bones to explore the next day. As the next day started, we launched the dinghy and went ashore to find two complete whale skeletons (small whales or maybe dolphins) and one extra skull. We'll have to find a whale expert along the way to find out what kind of whales they were from the pictures. We hiked to the top of a small hill, a "mountain climb" for little Rosie. Half way down, Ian exclaimed, "lost my phone!" Back up went Suzy, Ian and I for the needle in the haystack. After giving up at the top, Ian found it half way down. It was a good thing as Ian is still quasi working on the trip and needs his phone. From there we made a quick overnight stop at Christianshab, a look around the historical whaling town and then off for Ilulissat, twenty miles north.

Our cruising guide book says that "the entrance to Ilulissat may look to be blocked by ice but a closer look may yield leads." Ilulissat lies a mile north of the UNSECO World Heritage Site of the Ilulissat (Kangia) Isfjord. From this glacier and isfjord, many of the world largest icebergs are "born" and travel down with the East Greenland Current to coast of Canada and the US in the fall and winter. As we approached, we started to encounter these monsters, the size of city blocks, six to seven miles out. We were able to start weaving in and out of them finding leads and keeping a rough course towards Ilulissat. We did see two high speed ferry boats come and go, presumably from Ilulissat so I thought to myself, "there must be a lead somewhere." From about four miles out, things started to get pretty thick, pack ice surrounding most of the big icebergs. Just when I was at the point of turning back, if that was even possible, a tour boat popped around a big iceberg 200 meters away. A small wooden red boat, possibly an old fishing vessel, about 30 feet long loaded with iceberg and whale watching tourists came over toward us. I yelled out to the captain, "Is that a good way in?" He leaned out of his wheelhouse and said, "there's a lot of ice, I'll be back in thirty minutes, follow me in." I told him we'd wait there for his return. After drifting in the pack ice for twenty minutes, "Little Red", as he was now affectionately known, motored around the iceberg again. I fell in right behind him as he led the way through the pack ice, bouncing and pushing for us. He was slightly narrower than we were so if I was more than one boat length away, the ice closed up and we'd start banging and smashing. This happened quite a bit as he was obviously more used to the conditions, and his boat better able to navigate them - I couldn't keep up. Icebergs that I had told the crew less than an hour ago could tear a hole in the boat were now child's play. At one point, we just couldn't keep up the pace and went head on into a VW sized iceberg, I just didn't have the turning radius. Backing up is dangerous as the prop isn't protected and even being careful, I felt something funny and movement stopped. Suzy and Ian were on the foredeck fending off icebergs and calling for more reverse. "I think we broke the prop guys." I said as thoughts of Shackleton flew through my mind. "What the ice takes, the ice keeps." We were potentially trapped in the pack ice, without power and no wind to sail out. It could be a long couple of days drifting if we couldn't get going again and the thought of being squashed like a bug between two of the huge icebergs was not appealing. I eased it back into forward, then reverse, then a little bow thruster and thank goodness went forward again. It may have just been a piece of ice wedged between the hull and the prop shaft. At this point with only ¬Ĺ mile to go and the harbor entrance in sight, we were a good 200 meters behind Little Red and I suppose he had his schedule so off he went and we were left to fend for ourselves. As we pushed and shoved for almost an hour, getting within 300 meters of the entrance, out came Little Red again to guide us in the last little bit. When we arrived, even the inner harbor was packed full of ice, it took us twenty minutes just to go the last 100 meters to tie alongside a fishing boat. I was still in slight shock of what I had just done, not only for myself but for the crew and the boat. A quick inspection in the bilge yielded no new water - good thing, and only a few small dents and lots of chipped bottom paint. Prop inspection would have to wait as the harbor water was too dirty for the GoPro to see through. (The GoPro with the underwater casing turns out to be a great inspection tool.) After tying up, I jumped over three fishing boats and up into the fuel station and bought four beers. Back down to the boat and just like at home, had a cold one after a good days work. In hind sight, I would have bailed out had the tour boat not been there and I would have definitely not gone in if I had known what the ice conditions were like. That's the thing about the ice, once in, you're committed.

We spent two and a half days in Ilulissat, partly because we wanted to hike to the Isfjord and also because we couldn't have left if we wanted to. Consulting with the local fishermen, the ice was the worst of the year so far but shouldn't take more than a day or two to clear up. The hikes up to the Isfjord proved to be well worth the trip, easily the most breathe taking views of icebergs I have ever seen. Our plan was to leave Ilulissat and sail 8 miles farther north to Rode Bay. As we left, the ice conditions had changed considerably, we didn't hit a single iceberg on the way out. We sailed to the head of the Isfjord from the inside for a little sightseeing and then started around for Rode Bay. We stopped briefly to watch a sleeping humpback whale from only 20 meters away- incredible! Our plan was aborted as all the ice from three days ago was now choking off the northern route with no way in so we elected to sail south of Disko Island into Godhavn, sixty miles to the west. We dropped anchor at almost midnight and had a toast, as for this trip, we had gone as far north as we had time for, just shy of 70 degrees.

We're on our way south now to Sisimiut to take on freshwater, (our water maker has gone south before we did), shower, do laundry (and if the kids have a say, visit the swimming pool and the playgrounds) and hopefully upload some good pictures in two days.
Arctic Monkey's Photos - Main
Torshavn, Faroe Islands
3 Photos
Created 16 June 2015

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