|Vessel Name:||Arctic Monkey|
|Vessel Make/Model:||Garcia Exploration 45|
|Hailing Port:||Oconomowoc, WI|
|Crew:||Zetty, Zoe, Leah, Rose Morgan, Susie Theis, Ian Jansing|
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.
'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.
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 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.
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.