I just received a mail from our friend Peter Watkins in Newfoundland. Peter has been sending me regular status updates during the winter and this time he attached a couple of pictures of Belzebub in her winter sleep. It really warms my heart to see that she is fine and I am a little surprised that the tarp around her has been holding up against the harsh Atlantic weather. We are truly grateful for Peters support and we are looking forward to meeting him and our beloved boat in May.
Category Archive for 'Boat'
While in Greenland we experienced two major types of ice: Iceberg’s and the bergy bits that accompany them; an, pack ice. Both have their inherent dangers but pack ice was by far the most intimidating because it could encircle the boat in a short time and crush it.
The large icebergs move like slow Goliaths taking about three or so years to travel around Greenland to the coast of Newfoundland where they melt adding their fresh water to the gulf stream and sediment to the Ocean floor. These massive icebergs move with the currents and maintain a somewhat predictable path.
Pack ice on the other hand is much more unpredictable. Pack ice is ice that has formed during the winter from the surface of the Ocean freezing. It can be several meters thick but when summer arrives the ice starts to melt and crack and these chunks of ice begin to move becoming serious navigation obstacles travelling in condensed packs across the Arctic. Pack ice tends to move with the currents but are far more influenced by the wind and can quickly encircle, trap and crush a yacht.
Understanding the way pack ice moves and being able to predict its movements is the key to successfully sailing across the Arctic but this is close to impossible to do correctly all the time. In nearly every account I have read about boats sailing in the Arctic they have spent a certain amount of time trapped by pack ice. These accounts have included pack ice pushing the boat out of the water on to the ice, or pushing right on to shore or most commonly puncturing the hull, bending the rudder post and sheering the blades off the boats propeller.
Being able to push through certain types of pack ice without damaging the boat is essential. Boats have long tried various techniques to protect the bow of their boat by reinforcing the bow or by building ice deflectors around the prop and rudder. We will be reinforcing the bow this spring and would like to buy a backup diesel outboard just in case we lose both rudder and propeller we can still navigate without requiring assistance.
Lesson 4: Supplies
In many ways the first half of our trip was a shake down voyage. We were getting to know the boat, breaking in a new engine and getting an overall feel for how accurate our calculations were for how long our water, food and fuel reserves would last throughout our trans-Atlantic.
We were surprised how close our estimates were to what we would actually use, but we learnt some valuable lessons that will certainly assist us in our provisioning for the Arctic. The Arctic environment both provides and restricts. We realized that diesel fuel prices are cheap and there is plenty of kerosene around at subsidized rates. We also noticed an abundance of fresh water around that we could tap into. However, we realized how difficult it is to find any descent food up north. It is so bad that we site it as a public health hazard, rotten fruits and vegetables, few dairy products but plenty of cookies, crisps and junk food. We realized how much chocolate, butter, bread and cheese we ate and will need to plan accordingly for this. The north is home to many surprises where ports get clogged with ice and boats get trapped in ice. We need to be self sufficient for months.
- We realized that water wise we were going to be fine we never able to empty the tank between ports, and since fresh water rivers are pretty common along Greenland’s and Northern Canada’s coast we will just bring along water bags to transport the fresh water from land to the boat.
- Fuel wise the engine was slightly more thirsty than we had anticipated and ice conditions requires significant motoring. Our 120 liter tank and four 25 liter Jerry cans on board are not sufficient. We will try to add another 100 liter diesel bladder to the bilge of the boat, along with extra kerosene, oil and gasoline tanks for the stove and dinghy engine.
- Most of the provisions on board consist of basic foodstuffs. We carry few canned goods on board for weight reasons but will consider more due too the lack of fesh vegetables in the north. We will certainly bring enough food to keep us going for at least half a year to a year in case we become trapped in ice. Would love to have an oven but a stove will have to do, we must make chapati, pan bread and maybe even bread in a pressure cooker.
We waited for customs to clear us throughout the night. At 8 am they still had not showed up. I called them back and they said they would be there by noon. At noon they were still not there. My brother and friend had driven down to welcome us and drive us into town but we were stuck on the boat until we had cleared. We asked my brother to go buy us some lunch in town and bring it back to the boat. Finally at 2 pm they showed up and seemed pretty unimpressed that we had other people on board. They checked there ID and had them leave the boat and our clear in began.
As a Canadian I was shocked at how formal the process had become considering that I had been through the border hundreds of times before and never encountered any issues. Also we were in Newfoundland and Labrador an area known for there incredible hospitality. We were told that they thought we were trying to import the boat for sale (boat Swedish registered) and that they could not just trust our intentions to sail the Northwest Passage and that if we intended to leave the boat there during the winter that we had to comply to several customs regulations. Since we were there to do some boat modifications we hired some locals to do the repairs/modifications over the winter months to justify our stop in Canada.
We are a day from making landfall, and for nearly a week we have had calm weather and fell into a lazy routine. We were expecting another lazy night of 10-15 knots just off the shore of Newfoundland and Labrador when the winds began to pick up at about 1 am. I was on watch and started to put one reef in the main, then I rolled in the Genoa and rolled out the smaller jib. Half an hour later I put another reef in the main and then another, and rolled the jib in even more. We were close hauled and seas were extremely short and choppy and we were banging into the waves. The wind had picked up to 30 plus knots. As I sat there monitoring what I could of the horizon I noticed something strange off the back of the boat in the water. At first I though it was phosphorescents in the wake of the boat but it seemed different. I leaned over and noticed it was a sail dragging behind the boat held on by a rope to a cleat up forward, the entire Gennaker was in the water! I quickly called Edvin out and we dropped sail and head into irons as we laboured to remove the large sail from the water. It was lashed to the front deck and the large waves spraying over the deck must of ripped it loose and dragged it into the water…….we were lucky to retrieve it in one piece and that it did not damage the boat.
Alone on watch again I heard a snap and looked back to see the the windvane lines had snapped after dealing with that I was happy that my wet wet watch was over. I woke up Morgan to take over and as I was about to tuck into my bunk when the entire shelving over the bunk I was about to get into collapsed, food lay strewn across the bunk with the large 3 by 7 piece of backing plywood laying crumpled there. It was the result of the constant banging of the waves and no doubt weakened by the severe stress the boat was put through during our ordeal in Iceland when we were pinned against the dock for two days by waves.
I crawled into the quarter berth promising to take care of it during the day. It was a reminder that at sea you can never become complacent and let your guard down!
We left from Malmö at noon and headed straight to Helsingborg. Peter jumped on board the moving boat and we headed up Öresund. We had the wind against us and to avoid tacking through the shipping lane we decided to start the engine and go straight for Kullen. The night came on hard with heavy rain, waves and current against us. The autopilot broke down and we had to steer by hand for the whole night with an average speed of 1,5 Knots.
When Marcus got on his shift at 4 he had enough and got the sails up again. He was tired and soaking wet when he was relieved from his watch but there was still 15 nautical miles to Kullen. The Monsun sails badly up wind and in some conditions we can only go 60 degres close to the wind which means double the distance. Very unmotivating given that we are already late! After whole day of going nowhere we are now pushing upwind with the engine running straight for Skagen. According to the weather files we have been downloading through the HF radio we should have wind from the south and we are hoping for a straight run for Orkney.