|Vessel Name:||Schooner Windjammer|
|Vessel Make/Model:||Pete Culler - Integrity Schooner|
|Hailing Port:||Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia|
|Crew:||Ashley & Cathie Kerr|
|About:||We set off in December 2010 to continue our cruising adventures around the world after 25 years owning and operating a yacht charter company in the Whitsunday Islands - Australia|
Prior to crossing the channel to London we had planned a short visit to Brugge. It was a town that we had wanted to visit by car whilst in Amsterdam but didn't get the chance. It was noted in the information that we were given by the Belgian Waterways that it was a 1 1/2 hr journey to Brugge, which [...]
It was time to leave the north of Holland and we had arranged to buddy boat with our German friends Ralph and Sabine on their yacht "Beluga" through the "stand up mast route" to Zeeland and Brugge. They had done this journey many times and Sabine being the tour guide knew all the places to go to when [...]
31st July 2016 This morning we waved goodbye to Maggie who heads back to University in Melbourne. Departing Reykjavik at midday we sailed with a light Nor wester around the end of the Reykjanes Peninsular and tied up in the fishing port of Sandgerdi. A very excited young chap who had had a good day fishing [...]
30th July A relaxed start to the day before motoring 30nm from Patreksfjordur past the bird breeding cliffs at Latrabjarg and anchoring near the "red" sand beach (Raudasandur). Roast lamb dinner. 24th July Light rain and low cloud lifted midday as we motored across the wide Breidafjordur to the Snaefellsnes [...]
20th July This morning Ashley and Cathie filled the gas bottles and we cleaned the boat. Leaving Isafjordur under a brilliant blue cloudless sky we motored across the still fjord waters to the island of Vigur. This island private island used to be a sheep farm, but is now a sanctuary for nesting birds, particularly Eider ducks. The female Eiders plucks down from her breast to cover her eggs and keep them warm. Part of this down is collected 2 to 3 times during incubation which encourages her to produce more. The very light, fine down is cleaned by machine and hand after heating to disinfect it. On Vigur they produce 60kgs of eiderdown each year and it the whole of Iceland around 3,000kgs are produced each year. It takes about 60-80 nests to produce one kilogram of down. Also nesting on the island are thousands of Arctic Terns which dive bombed us as we walked past their nests. Hundreds of Puffins were fishing for Capelin off the beach and had their nests in the grassy banks behind. Black Guillemots were nestling in nooks and crannies all over the property. We sat in front of the old farm buildings and enjoyed a cup of tea and some homemade cakes, soaked up the sun and watched the antics of the birds and a whale blowing out in the bay. Under way Ashley trawled for salmon, but they didn't take the lure so he changed the rig and stopped the boat for bottom fishing. Almost immediately 7 cod were on the deck. In the evening we stopped in the small fishing village of Bolungarvik to fuel up. After dinner we wandered the town and were asked in for a drink with the owner of the Einarshusid guesthouse. This old building was prefabricated in Norway and housed the large family of a fishing fleet owner. Unfortunately, all the 12 children and his wife died of T.B. but the house survives. It is a wonderfully comfortable relic with a marine theme and the salvaged wheel from the French wreck of the "Pourqui Pas" which foundered in 1936 on the south coast of Iceland. It also serves as the local's pub and restaurant. Apparently it is illegal to fish for Halibut in Iceland, but many people do including the owner who recently pulled in one weighing 98kg, so it is served here on the menu as "Big Flat Fish" rather Halibut. 21st July Departed Bolungarvik at 10.30am and had a good sail down the coast with a fresh breeze to Patreksfjordur. We moored in the harbour with a German Dufour called "Ruby Tuesday' moored outside of us. 22nd July A still overcast day beckoned and Cathie organised a hire car and we drove around to Raudasandur to visit the "red" sand beach. The long strip of sand enclosing the lagoon is better described as golden rather than red. The highlight of the day were the cliffs at Latrabjarg. Up to 400m high and 14km long, the cliffs provide a breeding roost for seabirds. In early summer it is estimated there are 1 million birds nesting along its length. The main species are Guillemot, Brunnich's Guillemot, Razorbilled Auk, Puffin, Fulmar and Kittiwake. Our favourites are the Puffins with their colourful beaks, squat bodies and large webbed feet. Between us we probably have enough Puffin photos to fill an album. We had a picnic lunch at the lighthouse here and then drove across to the Amsfjordur for a soak in a very hot thermal spring. On our way home we had a beer in Bildudalur before driving back to Patreksfjordaur. We dinner at the Stukuhusid Café and enjoyed a very good meal of fish soup, lamb fillets and meringue dessert.
18th July Our Iceland entry port is Isafjordur and we rafted up beside the yacht Aurora Arktika at 0600hrs local time. We advance our watches 2 hours forward to match GMT time. Isafjordur is a small tidy town and the gateway to the Northwest with an airport and ferry service. Situated near the entrance to the Isafjardardjup (fjord) which penetrates 40nm inland it is also a day stop for cruise ships. We had a relaxed day in town, a welcome hot shower and a sauna at the local pool. In the evening we ate out and tasted the delicious Icelandic lamb at the restaurant Husid. 19th July We were all up this morning to wave off Matt Po who is heading back to Germany and work. We will miss him as he has been good company and a good crewman. Murray organised a hire car for the day and we drove off along the coastal road. At Sudavik we visited the Arctic Fox Centre where we watched a couple of foxes being fed and listened to a short talk about them. Because of their threat to sheep flocks they are often shot except in the northwest national park. Until fairly recently, if a farmer had more than 6 sheep he was required to shoot 2 foxes a year or pay a tax. Today fox numbers are controlled by government shooters. The Arctic fox is much smaller than his red fox cousin and for a long time their pelt was sort after as a fashion item being draped around the necks of the "beautiful" people. Following the road to the head of the AlftaFjordur we stopped for an hours walk up the Valagil valley to a waterfall and gorge. The valley walls rise steeply up to 1,000m and the tops are remarkably even. Our lunch stop was at an old turf roofed farm house. The dry stone wall work on the old house and the stone fences is fantastic and grows a mottled rusty colour lichen. Perhaps the highlight of the day was a soak in a hot spring pool. Iceland has a lot of geothermal activity with numerous hot springs dotted about the countryside. This one, although on private farm land, was a simple small concrete pool by the side of the road with a small change shed. The water temperature was 44° C so it took a little time to ease into the water, but it was fantastic sitting there with the steep fjord sides rising above us and the sea lapping just below. We continued driving on for views of the Drangajokull icecap and a cold beer at a funny old hotel, which used to be a school, at Reykanes. The day had started with fog hiding the hill tops, but improved during the day and we had a lovely drive back along the coast with the soft evening light reflecting on the fjords and hilltop snow patches.
15th July We departed Sermiligap at 0700hrs and motored north through the fjords to 66° 02'N before turning east and sailing from Greenland towards Iceland. There was a big swell and the wind was 15-20kts from the NE. We hoisted Main, Foresail and Staysail. The wind increased we had a very bouncy ride with bigger seas. We continued to see the high jagged snow-capped coast of Greenland for many hours and to pass the occasional iceberg far out to sea. Late in the evening with gusts over 30kts and the fog descending we put a reef in the Foresail and while we were putting a second reef in the Main the Foresail tore above the reefing point. We dropped the Foresail and Ashley decided to heave-to and ride out the weather for a few hours. 16th July After heaving-to for 4 hours we started motor sailing around 0330hrs with the wind25-30kts NE and a very uncomfortable sea on the nose. As the day progressed the wind gradually eased and we shook the reefs out of the main and rolled out the Balloon jib. 17th July The wind eventually died and we dropped the sails at 0330hrs. The stretch of water between Greenland and Iceland is known as the Denmark Strait and it has shown us several moods. From rough seas to calm and gale force winds to practically nothing. Now with 90nm to Iceland we are motoring over a smooth oily swell. Except for a few ripples on the surface it is hard to discern between the sea and the fog that envelopes us. During the afternoon the wind came in from the south and we sailed for a while, but it died and we were back on the motor. Removed Foresail from boom. Everyone on deck to help with the sail and for the first time in a while not needing full wet weather gear. Ashley restarted the heater and then later turned it off as unbelievably we were getting too hot! The water temperature today has gone from the 3-6° C we have had since Newfoundland to rise sharply to 12° C as we entered the warm Irminger Current that runs north along the west Icelandic coast. Consequently the air temperature off the water has improved noticeably and with it the interior temperature of the boat. First sighted Iceland on Murray's watch at 2200hrs. The sun stayed behind some cloud, but there was a glorious 3 hour red sky as the sun travelled across the northern horizon. We entered the Isafjardardjup Fjord at 0100hrs.
11th July We left Qutdleq at 0500hrs with clear skies, but by mid-morning the fog had closed in and we didn't see the coast again until late in the day. Ashley and Cathie have decided to press on through the night to Tasiilaq. There is no wind to speak of and we continue to motor across the oily, gleaming, unruffled water surface. The Northern Fulmars fly in tandem with a mirrored image reflected in the glassy surface as they play around the boat. Several whales were spotted. Pilot, Humpback and during the night Murray spotted some Orcas. There hasn't been much ice during the day, but around midnight we passed through a large field of small bergy bits which are easily seen in the bright dusk, turning straight into dawn, twilight. At midnight the sun's glow on the horizon lit a golden path on the sea to follow north and illuminated the mountains to port. 12th July Another windless day of motoring north. A thin silvery cloud layer shielded the sun and the icy coastline emitted a luminous glow. A number of whales were sighted during the day including Long-finned pilot whales, Sperm whales and Fin whales feeding on Capelin (small fish). In the evening a pod of White-sided dolphins played around the bow. While we have been cruising around Greenland Cathie has called in to Aasiaat Radio twice a day with our position, destination and ETA. On one occasion, in the Fjords behind Nuuk, when Cathie was unable to contact Aasiaat they contacted Australia who in turn contacted Windjammer by email. Another time Cathie waited to call in until we had anchored later in the day and they said they had been searching for us, so they are very efficient. 13th July We pulled into Tasiilaq at 0215hrs and rafted up to a small coastal trader, the "Johanna Kristina". Spent the day in Tasiilaq. The laundry had hot showers, so luxuriated while the laundry was done. There is an interesting book shop with a very eclectic range of products and a helpful proprietor. He/she serves lunch, coffee, ice-creams and sells books, baby clothes and very slow internet. While in town the Johanna Kristina we were rafted alongside moved to the other side of the harbour and took Windjammer still moored alongside with her. Carl-Peter, a young local working as a sailor on the Johanna Kristina told us how lucky he was to have a job. Apparently most young people are unemployed. The locals fish and hunt whales and seals for their own consumption, but there is no fish processing plant here to earn cash, so welfare dependency is high. We anchored off in the afternoon as the Johanna Kristina and dredge were on the jetty and went ashore for a pizza and a beer. The pizzas were quite good, but because of the liquor licencing laws we had to go to the down stairs bar for the beer. 14th July Fuelling up was tricky as Ashley had to manoeuvre Windjammer stern to the jetty, with both boats still tied alongside, while Murray played tug with the tender. Mid-way through the re-fuelling the Johanna Kristina decided to slip her mooring and slide out from inside the dredge causing a few missed heartbeats on board Windjammer as we wondered what was going on. Departing Tasiilaq at 1100hrs we motored through some spectacular fjords before stopping at Ikatek to look around a WWII air base. This was a large American air force base, "Blue East Two", mostly used for search and rescue and now marked with thousands of empty rusting 44 gallon drums, the remains of a hanger and many trucks, some still with air in their tyres. The gravel airstrip, although unused, is still in good condition. We motored past a few very blue frozen water icebergs which are quite different to the common compressed snow icebergs. In the evening we anchored off Sermiligaq with 2 stern lines to the small jetty. Lots of children were sitting at the end of the wharf and when playing with the stern lines managed to let one go. Around 0100am Ashley heard some noise on board and was surprised to find 2 women in the saloon. They had been drinking and were after some more beers and a chat! All the children were still up and playing about at this early hour.
6th July - Continuing on the inside passage with low lying islands and a mountain range backdrop we made for Uunartoq. This island has the only hot spring in Greenland which has been popular from Norse times and mentioned in the Sagas. We anchored on the south side of the island and walked over the [...]
1st July A crystal clear morning encouraged Ashley, Cathie, Matt and Maggie to walk over the hill to view the Kangersuneq Isfjord packed solid with ice. On their return we gathered mussels from the beach and as we up anchored and motored along Cathie created a delicious mussel and fish soup. Not a cloud in the sky as we cruised through impressive fjords to Qooqqut. Fashion ON the floe: Mid-afternoon, with a towering granite backdrop and sparkling seas we enjoyed another fashion treat. Matt (ice tester), Ashley (model) and Maggie (photographer) boarded a submarine shaped iceberg. With professional panache our model soon appeared in his trendy briefs (jocks) with straw hat, umbrella and crampon equipped Ugg boots. Paris eat your heart out! Matt, not to be outdone, stripped down too and rolled on the ice - proving that old ice is hard ice by skinning his elbows. In the evening we dined ashore at Qooqqut Nuan. We enjoyed a meal that included Musk Ox, lamb chops (NZ), scallops, prawns, shrimp, red fish and cod. Our excellent young waiter, Joorut, mixed us a Greenlandic coffee to finish the night! Irish whiskey - representing the man, Kalua - representing the woman, coffee - representing the arctic night, cream - the arctic snow and flaming Grand Marnier - the northern lights. Joorut also told us that anyone can apply for a permit to build a cabin along the fjords and that if the regional office approves the permit there is no cost or ongoing fees to use the land. #11 2nd July A 0600hrs start from Qooqqut motoring through the fjords saw us back in Nuuk by 0930hrs. We spent the day catching up on news, shopping and enjoying a free concert in the town square. There were a couple of pigs on the spit served with salad and potatoes and the local draught beer went down a treat. The old fellow who was tapping along to the music next to me was 88 years old. Almost everyone who passed him said "Hey" and touched him on the shoulder. It was a real family get together. We didn't manage to find any water to top up the tanks, but we fuelled up before leaving Nuuk and motored south for an hour to a sheltered anchorage, recommended by a local, for the night. Mussels from Kapisillit with pasta and a tomato sauce for dinner. 3rd July Weighed anchor at a leisurely 0900hrs and motored out of the fjords heading south. 1100hrs with a freshening cold N wind we raised sails including the Fisherman and sailed SE. The fog receded in front of us leaving a sunny corridor between the mountainous coast and fog shrouded ocean. 4th July The wind died in the early hours and we doused sails and continued on through the fog down the coast under motor. The sun fought a losing battle with the fog and despite thinning considerably we remained cocooned all day. In the evening the fog thickened and because of impending icebergs we began two man, two hour watches. 5th July Ashley plotted a course down the Inner Lead, threading down narrow passages through the coastal islands. We entered the first passage around midnight still in dense fog following the plotted course and monitoring the radar. Only the still water confirmed we had entered the channel until we saw peaks towering above the fog behind us, first to port and then close to starboard. As we passed deeper down the narrow tickle the fog cleared showing the bright sky with the midnight sun looming just below the horizon. Ashley timed the run through the narrowest part of the passage, where strong currents run, for slack water and we were glad we had good visibility as we slid between the rocks barely a boat length away on either side. It was good to have the sun and good visibility as this is a very scenic area. We arrived at Qaqortoq (Julienehab - most towns in Greenland have, confusingly, two names - the local and the Danish names) mid-morning. This is the biggest town in SW Greenland with a population of 3,000 with a Norse history, some lovely old colonial buildings and a growing tourist industry. We wandered the town and enjoyed a beer outside a central café where we could watch the locals go by in the sun. Mid-afternoon we fuelled up and took on water. Continuing on we motored around to Sadnoq. This is a small isolated settlement. Largely abandoned, with optimistically around 40 people remaining. We wandered around and came across some old graves made of slabs of rock and were probably packed around with earth and peat originally. That has weathered away and you can see the skulls and bones through the rock. We kicked a ball around with the local children and their dog. The Greenlanders we have met are very friendly and relaxed. The younger generation speak some English, but the men on the island didn't.
#10 27th & 28th June Two days in Nuuk, capitol of Greenland. Nuuk means "the headland" and the city sits on the end of a peninsular at the mouth of the vast fjord system "Nuup Kangerlua". We wandered into the town centre which is easily done as everything is close. There is an excellent museum which describes the different eras of inhabitants going back to 2,500 BC and up to colonisation by Denmark. There is a definite Greenland "look" influenced by their i=Inuit ancestry and the locals are cheerful and helpful and most have some English language. The city itself is not very inspiring with a lot of high rise apartments built in rectangular blocks, although a few traditional houses in the old town are quite picturesque. We definitely felt that we had left North America and entered Scandinavia as the modern shops were well stocked with everything you would find in Denmark. Unfortunately most of the cafes and restaurants seemed to be a bit un-inspirational and served fast food type menus. We saw a local street vendor selling dried whale meat, but no seal meat. The climate dictates the fashion and most wore jeans or slacks with warm jackets and boots. Wi-Fi is quite expensive, but we managed to get a free fix at the library. 29th June Having spoken to the locals, Ashley and Cathie have decided that rather than sail 300nm north to Disko Bay we will explore the extensive fjords of this area. What a good call! Today started off wet, cold and windy as we motored the two hours to Ikkuttut bay. Here we were out of the wind and Ashley and Maggie caught some lovely cod. They were hardly landed before being cleaned, filleted and pan fried by Cathie - delicious. After lunch we motored through increasing numbers of icebergs to Qoornup, a small community set up to survey the West Greenland in 1927. This small island has a fete every year on the first weekend of July, but we won't be staying around to join in. As the day progressed the weather improved and when the cloud lifted we could better appreciate the magnificent setting of chiselled granite mountains rising sheer from the iceberg cluttered waters. Glacial action has scoured out the sides of the deep valleys which carry tiny patches of tough native vegetation. Erik the Red, the Viking who landed here hundreds of years ago, who was accused of false marketing when he named the country Greenland to attracts settlers. 80% of the country is icecap and there are lots of bare rock, but there are green areas and apparently the Vikings ran sheep and cattle as the climate was milder back then. Leaving Qoornup after a good walk around we piloted Windjammer through numerous icebergs, bergy bits and growlers. It was difficult to find a safe anchorage clear of ice, but we found a good corner of Tasinsap Bay and reminiscent of Patagonia days we anchored with a line ashore by 2030hrs. Cathie bought fish in Nuuk which she was told was trout and she cooked it in the pan with a delicious orange sauce. A fine white flaked fish with a delicate flavour served with snow peas and wild rice. A wonderful way to finish an awesome day.
The sun was setting over the snowy mountain peaks as they took to the form of devils teeth, ascending from a dense mysterious fog lingering low on the ocean surface. As midnight approached, the tedious four day passage across the Davis Straight, had come to an end. We had sailed to the edge of the earth [...]
Great new adventures and great new seas awaited as we prepared to cross the first section of the North Atlantic Ocean.The sun rose over Mary's Harbour, Labrador as we set sail for the the Davis Straight destined for Greenland. As much as I thrive in the excitement of wandering on new land, crossing oceans [...]
#9 25th June The wind died in the early hours and we dropped sails. It is a rainy grey morning. Around 0900hrs the wind built and we raised sails. The rain cleared and at lunchtime we had a short glimpse of the sun. The wind picked up in the afternoon and swung more to the west and we barrelled along at 7+ knots. The heater is going well after Ashley's work yesterday although there were hiccups this morning until he realised the engine vent cover was on which starved the heater of oxygen. Finished reading "Cod", an excellent book on the history of cod fishing and its impact on the culture and economics of many countries on both sides of the Atlantic. Maggie saw an iceberg on her afternoon watch, the first ice we have seen for a couple of days. 26th June The wind died in the very bright early hours of this morning and we dropped sails. The swell persisted which caused much rolling without the steadying of the sails. Grey skies and no wind and we are now over 62° north. There is no real darkness up here and you could happily read a book on deck in the middle of the night. Cathie spotted a lone iceberg this morning. Sea water temperature has dropped to 4.9° C. We spotted a couple more distant icebergs as we motored through the day with the ground swell only reluctantly abating. Maggie created a tasty vegetable curry for lunch. We sighted land at 2015hrs and as we approached Nuuk we were welcomed with a fireworks display ashore. A very cold breeze blew off the tall snow-capped mountains that tower over Nuuk. We rafted up in the inner harbour at 2300hrs having travelled 720nm from Mary's Harbour. Nuuk is at 64° N.
23rd June We haven't seen any ice since midday yesterday, but for safety sake we stand watches with 2 on during the darkest part of the night. One on the foredeck on ice watch and the other at the helm monitoring the radar. It never got completely dark as we had a clear night sky with an almost full [...]
#7 21th June A clear sunny day in Mary's Harbour. The mayor, Alton Rumble, told us there is now a population of 300 in town. There are not many options apart from fishing, so most of the younger generation have gone to St Johns or other major cities. We met several other Rumbles around town as they seem to have a share in the co-op fish processing plant, the port management, fishing boats and the town council. Alton kindly lent us his car to have a quick look around town (and that was driving slowly) and do some provisioning. The warm dry wind was ideal for drying out the boat and our wet weather gear. We also re-seamed some stitching on the mainsail and topped up the fuel using the longest fuel hose I have ever seen. They pull it 100m down the dock using a ute. Ashley and Cathie talked to the local fisherman about ice to the north. A tanker is stuck in the ice trying to get into Cartwright and the pack ice is well south so they have decide to leave Labrador in the morning and head under the bottom of the ice straight to Greenland. Also in Mary's Harbour was a nice 42' French designed Garcia aluminium yacht and its skipper Gilbert who at the age of 70+ years is going to sail solo through the North West passage. He came on board for a glass of wine and told us stories of losing his boat in Colombia and also rescues in Greenland and Iceland! 22nd June Departed Labrador at 0500hrs and set a course NE to Greenland. A little rain overnight but the skies cleared and we motored with no wind. Looking back at the icebergs grounded along the coast we saw an interesting mirage effect. This Arctic phenomenon is known as a "superior image" or :fata morgana" and occurs when a warm offshore breeze flows over cooler air lying just above the cold sea water. Light travels slightly faster through warm air than through cold causing a light ray as it passes from cooler to warmer air to curve back toward the cooler air. This means that to somebody observing a distant object, say an ice floe, through air that is warmer above than it is below, the floe will seem higher that it really is; it will also be elongated vertically making it seem taller than it really is. Sometimes cooler air can act as a duct between layers of warmer air and images appear of objects below the horizon. At 1030hrs the wind came in from the SE and we set Fore, Main, Balloon Jib and Fisherman. We passed through a band of "growlers" several miles wide, probably coming off the end of the coastal pack ice. These growlers range in size from that of a football up to the size of a container. I saw a wonderful iceberg mirage of a Tall Ship with sails furled on the yards floating above the horizon. We made good progress under sail despite a confused sea and by 2200hrs when we lost the wind and lowered the sails to resume motoring we had covered 130nm.
18th June We tidied up the boat and then took Don's ute into town to get gas, outboard fuel and do the laundry. Caught up with the news and chatted to Mich once we got Wi-Fi. Ashley made some modifications to the fuel lines to further improve the diesel heater operation while at sea. In the evening we dined at the Lighthouse restaurant. Lovely view over the passing icebergs and nice food. 19th June Hitched a ride into town and visited the Grenfell museum. Dr Wilfred Grenfell, a 27 year old medical doctor came from England to Labrador in 1893. There were no doctors and the standard of health was terrible. He spent the rest of his life establishing a health care service which included hospitals, nursing stations and hospital ships. In the afternoon we hitched a ride 30kms out to L'Anse aux Meadows. This is the only authenticated Viking site in North America and the earliest evidence of the eastern migration of humans from Africa meeting their western migration cousins. The Vikings arrived here in 985 AD, but it wasn't until 1960 that their settlement site was discovered for European culture by Helge Ingstad. The sod houses have been recreated and there is an interpretive centre with enlightening video. The thumbs took a little longer to work on the way home, but we all arrived back safely after once more enjoying the hospitality of the locals. Today was the warmest day of the trip, reaching 18° C. The bright sunny skies made a pleasant change to the foggy damp conditions we have mostly experienced. 20th June Left St Anthony at 0500hrs and motored until the wind came in from SW @ 20-25kts. Sailing with main, fore and staysail. Water temperature is 3.2°C which chills the wind considerably. We passed several scattered large icebergs along the way. These are generally stuck in shallower patches of water, 80m or less. In the afternoon we pulled into the National Historic Site of Battle Harbour. The entrance was down a narrow snaking Tickle past barren rocky outcrops that open out into the tight harbour lined with white washed buildings with red trim. This island community at its peak with cod fishing and to a lesser degree seal and salmon was the hub to a population, including the surrounding area, of 4,000 people. When the cod fishing finished most of the population was relocated, but the young unemployed were encouraged to restore the old buildings. Today it is a piece of living history that caters to visitors with day trips from Mary's Harbour and accommodation in the restored cottages for those that want to stay. We could have stayed the night at their dock, but we thought the $2/ft charge was a little steep, so we motored the 9nm to Mary's Harbour.
It was quite the shock when we sailed into the the busy commercial harbour of St John's, hosting cruise ships, large commercial fishing vessels and small boat tour operators. I had become so content with the pleasant and simple nature of the smaller fishing communities of Newfoundland that we had come [...]
15th June Departed Lumsden by 0530hrs and motored north. No wind but thick fog. Two on watch to look out for ice. The radar picks up bigger icebergs and even smaller bergy bits show as intermittent blips. There are some interesting names on the chart. Having crossed Hamilton Sound we motored up "Dildo Run" to the "Main Tickle". Large icebergs have landed on then north facing bays and we motored around several as we entered the small fishing port at Durrell next to Twillingate. The small museum in Durrell has a stuffed polar bear on display. The 2 year old floated south on icebergs and became a menace to residents when he landed here. They couldn't tranquilise him so they had to shoot him. Walking towards town we came to a shop doing wine tastings. The wines are made from berries mostly found locally. Rather than being full bodied berry flavour they seemed to just have a hint of berry taste. Visitors from Gander gave the six of us a lift into town in the back cab of their pickup truck. Gander was for a short period one of the busiest airports in the world when the USA closed its airspace after the 9/11 attack and all incoming trans-Atlantic flights were diverted here. The locals opened their homes and looked after the flood of stranded passengers. We had a beer at the Anchor Inn with our transportation hosts before walking down the road to Addy's Fish Restaurant where we tried Capelins, small sardine sized fish. They had been baked and were very dry and salty - an acquired taste. Also on the menu were Cod Tongues which are highly prized, but we found them disappointing. Murray had some highly rated Snow Crabs and Maggie and I ate grilled cod fillets that had lovely and flaky white flesh. Ashley tried Moose Soup which he said was very salty. After dinner a short time with the thumb out soon had lifts with locals back to the boat. 16th June Departed Twillingate at 0500hrs motoring with no wind, grey skies and clear visibility. Very calm sea and a thin cloud cover around noon almost let the sun through. We covered the 80nm to Englee by 1730hrs. Englee is a small fishing village nestled in a cove near the entrance of Canada Bay. The fishermen were unloading Snow Crabs on the dock where we tied up. The town is quite isolated with no TV, population 400 and the Salvation Army building the biggest in town. 17th June We cast off from Englee at 0600hrs and headed north. Large icebergs have beached along the coast here and we saw a small section break off one as we passed by. It is blowing 15kts from the north and raining. We have better visibility with the cold northerly winds and despite the rain we can clearly see the icebergs and bergy bits, unlike the south westerlies that pick up moisture over the warm Gulf Stream waters which turns into fog over the chilly Labrador Current east of Newfoundland. A passage from John R. Bockstoce's book "High Latitude, North Atlantic" reads: "On the average the west Greenland glaciers calve about 27,000 icebergs each year. They then begin a 2-3 year voyage of about 2,000 miles, melting and calving as they travel, first north along the Greenland shore to Baffin Bay, then south, past Baffin Island and Labrador. On average about a thousand bergs per year reach Belle Isle, but most are bound down the east coast of Newfoundland to the Grand Banks where they meet the 60° F water of the Gulf Stream and vanish quickly." Now days this number could be more like 30-40,000 bergs heading south each year. The flat bergs are generally from the low lands around Baffin Island while the peaked ones are from the mountainous Greenland glaciers. The wind and sea built through the day and the motion stirred up sediment in the fuel tanks which caused a blockage in fuel filter which stopped the engine. We drifted for nearly an hour while Ashley changed the filter and bled the system. The wind was now blowing 40+ knots and the cold spray stinging our faces as we approached St Anthony. We dodged a final couple of bergs near the harbour entrance and entered quieter waters. Don, a trawler owner helped with our lines and came on board for a chat before we had a quick dinner and went to bed early.
Bonavista is one of the oldest towns in Newfoundland and home of the Atlantic Puffin. Before spotting the vibrant orange and yellow parrot-like beak, I quickly mistook it for a penguin diving beneath the water in search of fish. They are quite a treat to watch, they lift off from the water resembling [...]
13th June Left St Johns at 0500hrs. Fog and no wind with light rain. Wind came in from the SE and we raised sail at 0800hrs. The rain set in during the morning and we made good speed to the north in 15-20kts of breeze. We saw a number of icebergs - some well over 100m in size. Rounding Cape Bonavista we sailed into smooth waters and made 10kts down to Bonavista town in the freshening breeze. Ashley saw 32kts on the wind gauge by the time we were lowering the sails at the harbour entrance. Several locals braved the weather to assist us tie up at the inner fishing boat harbour. All lines secured by 1730hrs. Thoughts of a walk into town were dispelled by the rugged weather. Cathie cooked up a lamb roast with rice and veg and we turned in early. Along the way we have grappled with some of the local lingo, so here are a couple of terms we have picked up. Floater - Seasonal fisherman who leave at the end of the fishing season. Livyer - Those who choose to stay through the year Tickle - A short narrow channel between islands Rattle - A passage where currents can really boiled 14th June This morning we visited the "Matthew", a full scale replica of Cabot's 15th century carvel. Giovannini Caboto was a Genoese explorer, sponsored by the King of England, who in 1497 set sail from Bristol, England hoping to find a route to the Far East, but instead landed in Newfoundland. Instead of spices or silk he found cod which sparked settlement in North America and the establishment of the huge cod industry. Today in Bonavista fishing is still the main industry. With the 1992 moratorium on cod fishing still in effect, at this time of the year they are catching crab and lobster. We left Bonavista at 1330hrs and headed north. There is not enough breeze to sail and we motor across the lumpy sea in thick fog. There are a number of icebergs floating through this area which is known as "Iceberg alley". We maintain an iceberg watch on the bow and can only see 100m ahead at most. There is a tricky approach to Lumsden harbour with a buoyed passage between shoals and then a dog leg into a small fishing harbour. We only see the buoys through the fog when we are almost on them. A couple of local fishermen who came to help with our lines were impressed we got in. We were secure by 2030hrs. Cathie cooked up a pasta with the last of the scallops from Ramea.
9th June The storm has passed and we departed Saint Pierre at 0800hrs. A grey day with fog and a very lumpy left over sea. A light breeze turned to the SW and we motor-sailed with the main, fore and balloon jib. The wind died early in the afternoon and didn't pick up again until 2100hrs when we raised the sails again and turned the motor off. We sailed through the night at 6-7kts. The water temperature has dropped to 6° C, but it is quite reasonable on deck. We are standing 2 hour watches with 2 up. The barometer is reading 992. 10th June In the morning as we headed north we could hear the fog signal of Cape Race long before we caught a dim glimpse of it through the mist. As we approached Cape Spear Ashley spotted out to sea our first iceberg for the trip. Cape Spear is the most easterly point of North America. As we rounded the lighthouse there were many bergy bits calving off a large iceberg stuck against the shore. We entered St Johns harbour at 1800hrs and tied up in the security zone astern of the Venezuelan sail training ship, Simon Bolivar, to await customs clearance back into Canada from Saint Pierre. After a prolonged wait we cleared in without any problems or duty needing to be paid on our Saint Pierre wine purchases. Steaks were eaten at a dockside establishment before the younger folk took off to sample the delights of George Street. 11th June Went for a walk in St Johns and had a big cooked breakfast. Bought some camping mats as insulation to mitigate condensation in the forward berths we anticipate when we get into the colder northern climate. Received an email from Steph telling us she is engaged to Dylan!!! - much rejoicing in the Smail camp! In the afternoon we visited The Rooms Museum. This is an excellent display of the history and culture of the region. 12th June A sunny clear day for a walk around St Johns harbour entrance to Signal Hill. Cabot's tower on Signal Hill is famous as the site where Gugliemo Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless signal on 12th December 1901. Also at the tower we met the very handsome, 70kg "Chieftain", a 2 year old Newfoundland dog. This local breed is famous for their kind and water loving disposition. We walked past the tower and down to Quidi Vidi, a picturesque group of house built on the edge of a Tickle. We passed up a tour of the local craft brewery in favour of delicious fresh lobster rolls at the Mallard Cottage. We have enjoyed St Johns with its colourful terraced houses and broad selection of cafes, restaurants and pubs. Most of the pubs have live music and Matt says the party starts at midnight and they close at 3am. Matt gives George Street a 5 star rating. In June and July the weather is described as "Capelin Weather" as this time of year these small sardine like fish run and the weather is always wet and foggy. Maggie and I bought traditional sou'westers in St Johns. These hats are also known as Cape Annes' and are oilskin with a felt lining and flaps to cover your ears.
Following Windjammers extraordinary welcoming to Newfoundland, we headed south-east to where North America meets France. With Brie, baguettes and Bordeaux in mind, we set sail for St Pierre, one of the last two remaining islands belonging to the French empire in North America. St Pierre is like a little [...]
The shiny green topsides and raking masts shined flawlessly in an otherwise dull morning as Windjammer took to its name as a "floating curiosity". Despite the long journey and early arrival from the opposite side of the world, I climbed out of the zodiac with great anticipation. The familiar sense of [...]
5th June We left Francois at 0700hrs. Sea flat, no wind. 50nm to the island of Saint Pierre. The wind picked up mid-morning and we set main and foresail in 5-10kt breeze. The sea temperature here at 47° N is 8-9°C so any breeze blowing off it is very fresh. The sun is shining and we watched many Fin whales blowing just off the island. The first French island we passed was Miquelon and we arrived at Saint Pierre at 14.30hrs, but we had to adjust our watches forward 1 hour for French island time. Customs and immigration were waiting for us at the dock and were very pleasant. After we completed formalities we walked the short distance into town in bright sunshine. Being Sunday most shops were closed. We watched some local fisherman cleaning cod which they had caught on hand lines at 80-100m depth close to St Pierre. We called into the only bar open in town, the Txetxo. This is a Basque bar. The Basque were the first cod fisherman beginning fishing these waters in the 15th century. They supplied the European market with cod and jealously guarded their source. With Matt translating we had a good chat with Jose the barman. He worked the cod boats from the age of 14. He is proud of his Basque heritage and talked about his life and supplied us with tapas of whelks, cheese, salmon and sausage. He asked us back for lunch on Tuesday for a meal of traditional cooked Bacala. Back at the boat Cathie cooked up a wonderful risotto and Windjammer remained tied to the Eric Tabarly wharf for the night. 6th June It was a treat this morning to have croissants and baguettes fresh from patisserie. The yacht club has good showers and a washing machine so we tidied up before heading into town to the bottle shop. As this will be the best opportunity to buy good wine at a reasonable price we bought a good volume. Saint Pierre is a duty free port and has a long association of suppling alcohol. During the prohibition in the USA it was even one of the staging grounds for Al Capone. The wine and other liquor was delivered after lunch and Murray spent quite some time stowing it all aboard. In the afternoon Murray and I climbed up to the ridge above town for some good views of the island. Despite having a population of 6,500 the town is remarkably quiet with the locals friendly and considerate to pedestrians. 7th June (46° 47'N 56° 10W) Ashley has decided to wait in St Pierre for a strong storm cell to pass. I strolled into town to buy baguettes and croissants for breakfast. The sun has disappeared and the air is quite cool so I spent the morning reading on the computer and took a walk with Murray for a coffee break. We went back to bar Txetxo to have lunch with Jose and his special cod dish but he hadn't been able to buy any Bacala so he produced a family pot of steak and carrots with plenty of bread and also a scallop and saffron dish. He wouldn't take payment for the food as he doesn't usually provide food in the bar, but just enjoys cooking his family recipies. In the afternoon we took the tender over to I'lle aus Marin, the small island across the bay from St Pierre. The island was known as I'lle aus chiens (island of dogs) but they changed the name in the '60s. The island was the original centre for the cod fishing industry and in the late 1800s had a population of around 700. Today there are around 40 houses only and of these only 15 are original. Others have been renovated and there are some newer ones retaining the same architecture that are used as holiday homes. The cod fishing started to die out in the late 1930s and a number of houses were deconstructed and rebuilt in St Pierre. Some of the buildings are now museums recording the history and hardships of the residents. They were a very self-reliant and also strongly religious (Roman catholic) people. The biggest building on the island is the church "Notredame aux Marins". The museum curator did a marvellous job explaining the exhibits wearing only a t-shirt, long pants and gumboots while we were all rugged up to the eyeballs. 8th June Spent time this morning looking for insulation to go around the mast in the forecastle. The mast, being made of steel works extremely well in removing any traces of heat that might make their way forward from the diesel heater. The locals are all very helpful and a gentleman took me to his house where he had some insulation stored and gave it to me for nothing. It is a miserable day with strong wind and rain. The barometer is reading 999 and falling.
2nd June 2016 Arrived in Sydney, Nova Scotia at 2am and was met by Ashley and tendered out to Windjammer. Ashley and Cathie have sailed her up from Rhode Island where they had spent the winter. The rest of the crew, Maggie Kerr, Murray Spence and Matt Po arrived at various times on the 1st June. It is great to be back on board and share a new adventure with crew we have sailed with before. Sydney was famous for its coal mining and steel production. It was a gathering point for ships doing the Atlantic convoy crossings in the 2nd World War. These industries have stopped now and tourism is their mainstay. The cruise ship terminal has a small museum which records the early Gaelic settlers and later the battles for possession between the English and the French. A huge fiddle outside the facility is a reminder of the early settlers and their heritage of language and music. We departed Sydney at 1.30pm after fuelling and taking on water. A cold breeze was blowing in the bay but died out as we left the land and headed ENE on the 140nm crossing to Newfoundland. As we were motoring we stood solo 2 hour watches. A brilliant sunset over an oily calm sea was enhanced by the silhouettes of dozens of dolphins jumping and a few whales feeding. 3rd June First stop in Newfoundland is the small island of Ramea. The sea is flat calm and there is no wind. We arrived at 11.00am and tied alongside a large fishing boat. They were unloading scallops which they keep alive in the flooded holds. They generously gave us a basket of scallops and showed us how to shuck them. They did it very quickly and we ended up with several kilos of scallop meat. They also gave us some flounder fillets which Cathie cooked for lunch. Winston the skipper and owner was very proud of his vessel the "Burin Tradition" and showed us over her. He is licenced to fish for scallops, sea cucumber, whelks, cod and halibut and even allowed to catch 8 blue fin tuna a year. We had a walk on a board-walk out to the lighthouse. The country is boggy with stumpy little spruce scrub and weather rounded bare rock. We left Ramea after lunch and headed across to the main island of Newfoundland and entered the Grey River fjord. The town of Grey River has been largely abandoned as the fishing industry has declined since the moratorium on cod fishing in 1988. A local told us in his extremely broad accent there are only about 70 people left in town and only 14 children in the school. We anchored for the night a few miles up the fjord. We all battled to understand the Newfies "language". Their accent is quite unique and you need to listen very carefully to get their meaning. We dined in style with the fresh scallops cooked in ginger, sherry, soy and maple syrup and served with fresh asparagus and mashed sweet potato. 4th June Ashley changed the sump pump in the shower. It has lasted 6 years! We motored up the west arm of Grey River for a look around before heading out to sea and following the coast east to Lahme Bay. The coastline here is steep bare cliffs with little sign of vegetation. We entered Lahume Bay and anchored in Deadman's Cove. The massive hills here are well rounded by glacial action and waterfalls break the silence as they tumble hundreds of metres down the walls. We had a good climb up to the tops with views back over the bay and down on Windjammer at anchor. On the way down we noticed what we thought were white goats, but later we were told that they would have been young caribou. Leaving Deadman's Cove we motored 5nm along the coast to the small community of Francois which nestles at the head of a small cove with a backdrop of craggy cliffs and a river cascading through the centre of town to the sea. Like Grey River, this was a busy fishing village relying on the cod fishing but with its demise most residents have left. Today there are only 70 locals, but it seemed quite lively with several visitors staying in B & Bs ferrying in from bigger towns for the weekend. A quick stroll around the town was followed by pre dinner drinks on deck and then a delicious roast dinner. Later we went to one of the boat sheds where some visitors were having a sing along with guitar and lagerphone. Matt played some Spanish tunes and Cathie had a good bop.
The front has eventually passed and we are now on our way to Lunenburg. The extra two days dockside at Newport turned out to be quite productive and I was able to free up the engine stop cable that was forever challenging us to an arm wrestle. Cathie managed to add another ice breaker to her arctic collection [...]
Spring has finally arrived in Newport and it's time to get moving again. Just waiting for the weather front to pass, then we're off to Nova Scotia via Cape Cod canal and Provincetown on the end of Cape Cod peninsula. From there it is a 320 mile passage to Lunenburg where we start our meander up the coast [...]
We are back in Newport where we will spend this winter berthed at the Newport Harbour Hotel and Marina in the heart of the old town. Our in water berth includes shore power, cable TV, heated pool and access to the hotel facilities all at a cost of $400.00 per month. During the on season they charge $5.00 per foot per day so a very good deal for us. We are part of a community of 25 live aboard yachts in the marina so looking forward to building some new friendships. Our first project though is to build a frame over Windjammer so we can shrink wrap her with plastic to keep out the snow ....mmm this is going to be interesting.
After disembarking Tom and Sylvia at Bar Harbour in Maine we sailed down the coast to Newport with a quick stop over in Rockland and Rockport. Newport was going to be our home for the winter so we were keen to check out the place to ensure we knew what we would be getting ourselves into. The Newport [...]
We finally made it to Maine, a bucket list destination with Penobscot Bay and all the wooden classic schooners. We had heard so much about cruising in Maine, how beautiful it was, best cruising ground in the world, lobsters etc etc. We therefore had very high expectations.
Our next destination was the island of Nantucket famous for being the largest historical whaling town in the US. We had read good reports about the museum and after reading the Nathaniel Philbrick book, In the Heart of the Sea, (the story of the ship Essex from Nantucket which was sunk by a giant sperm [...]
We left Ft Lauderdale on a bright sunny day with not much wind and followed the coast line for Savannah, Georgia. There were recreational fishermen in droves out on the water so had to maintain a close watch. The city of Savannah is located about 10 miles up the Savannah River, so we made a left turn [...]
We spent a wonderful week cruising through the Jardines del Rey, a 210 mile stretch of cays, reefs and sandy beaches on the North Coast of Cuba. On our first snorkeling/spear fishing session we managed to get a red emperor and our first fresh lobster. Ciguetera can be a problem in this region so we [...]
Friday 8 May at 11.00am we made landfall on the south eastern coast of Cuba at Pt de Vita. We were instructed by the Capitania de Puerto to drop anchor outside the marina and standby as we would need to be boarded and cleared by the local officials prior to entering the marina and Cuba. This we duly [...]
After nearly 3 weeks in Antigua where we had great fun preparing and then participating in the Classic Yacht regatta, we dropped off our hearty crew and headed for the island of Barbuda. As our South African friends who we were buddy sailing with said "Barbuda is the real deal". Beautiful sandy pink [...]
Our first blog since the 28th February! - We have been so busy jammin between the islands with various friends on board that blogging just had to take a back seat. Since leaving Trinidad we have sailed up through the Windward Islands, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines including, Union Island, Carriacou [...]
We are currently sailing down the north west shore of Trinidad on our way to Chaguaramas, ten days after leaving Brazil and we are ready for Carnival. It has been a wonderful trip, good winds all the way, lovely warm weather and great crew. This is definitely what cruising is all about. We are yet to [...]
Looks like about 2 days left to get us to Trinidad which will be a nice end to our 5400 mile crossing. Since the last post we have been maintaining good daily averages of about 170 miles thanks to the Brazil current and steady trade winds. Crossing the ITCZ was quite comfortable this time round with [...]
I half joked that disasters generally run in threes! The glue in our two dingy repair kits had gone off, the guy in the English yacht next door came to the rescue with some hypalon glue, nope also gone off, then the marina maintenance man turned up with a tube, nope also off. So it was tools down, stop [...]