Week 29 16 – 22 July 2018 A trip Newfoundland – Greenland 5 days, plus three days on Greenland 775 nm
16 July Monday Day 2 on route to Greenland
First 24 h 152 nm, 548 more to go.
Started from Seldom Harbour, Fogo Island on Newfoundland Sunday morning at 7.
We had to use the engine the whole day and night, at least it’s better than headwind! Sunday was sunny but at nighttime we had dense fog and the moon was down from eleven pm. Not much wind during the night and dense fog made us fully rely on radar and AIS. No help looking out in the dense fog that was lighted up by our navlights. Thanks to the smooth sea state we had no radar echo from breaking waves making the alarm on the radar, set to two miles, very efficient. Icebergs show up very distinct, but of course small growlers will not show up. No ice bergs during the whole night.
When the sun was up and the fog gone we saw three icebergs. Two on our starboard side and one on our port side. All three further away than three miles, one mile outside of our set radar range. Towards Labrador we could see the fog far away most of the day.
The sea state was little confused, but we could motor sail with sails out pooled making six knots until late afternoon when we could for the first time shut down the engine. We hope that the sea state will remind without breakers, helping the radar to do a good job looking for icebergs throughout the night.
17 July Tuesday Day three on route to Greenland.
Second day out 152 nm made good, still 391 to go.
The night became clear and no fog. We sailed without engine support until five in the morning when the wind decreased making Moon roll and loose the wind pressure in the sails and the engine had to come on.
Motor sailed with out poled sails until half past seven when we, using the whole crew now awake, took down the pole, furled the headsails and reefed the main and sheeted it amidships to be used as a stabilizer only.
Another fantastic sun rise, but later we got clouds together with some sunshine. No ice bergs and only some fulmars and storm petrels kept us company. First day we saw dolphins but since then no whales or dolphins.
At noon the fog came back and our world became a tiny circle around Moon. The radar had to take over the outlook, but soon we were reminded that it don’t find everything. A “donk” under the boat while Björn temporary was at the helm made that perfectly clear. A two meter long log came up behind Moon, well smoothed by long time in sea water. Not ice as our immediate reaction was. In the reconstruction we sure know the difference in sound between a log and ice after lots of contact with ice in Sweden, Antarctica and Alaska, not to mention all the logs in British Columbia. But still it’s a hiccup!
The weather forecast has been very accurate and now coming to the fourth day of the forecast the stronger wind has blown away, resulting in even more motoring to reach Greenland in five days. We make more miles using sails if not headwinds. Using engine we make six knots average and 700 miles take us five days. Under sail we make seven knots average and 700 mile is only four days!
In the evening the fog disappeared and we had another nice sunset. The wind was still not enough to shut down the engine in the confused sea state.
18 July Wednesday Day 4 on route to Greenland
Third day out 153 nm made good, still 267 to go.
The engine was in use the whole eventless night. It’s obvious that we are further north. The dark hours of the night become shorter. Only four “dark” hours because of the hours of dusk and dawn after sunset and before sunrise. After sunset we got dense fog again. Radar became our eyes together with AIS. We could use the time to write and read pilots and more.
Breakfast when the whole crew was awake around ten, and at that time the fog had eased a bit with a partly clear sky. Still no wind. The sea state gets smother by the time. Water temperature is still six C. Today we use the smooth sea state and had a shower, not affected of the sea water temperature!
In the afternoon we got a new forecast that had reinvented the strong wind tonight, possible even gale force.
Shortly before sunset the clear sky disappeared and there were signs of rain in the dark clouds.
19 July Thursday Day 5 on route to Greenland
Fourth day out 166 nm made good, still 102 to go at seven am.
The forecast was correct, the wind came around midnight and soon we made seven to eight knots with the wind 120 degrees over the boat and the sea mainly in the same direction. Nineish in the morning we had to pole out the headsail to be able to retrieve our course. We had during the night “followed” the change in wind direction to avoid running and outpoled sail in the dark night. Again we had fog, but this time spiced with some cold rain!
We have a problem with poling out the headsail! As soon as we do that, the wind changes its direction!
We are between two lows with gale making the sea state very confused with big waves. Coming closer to the coast we got less wind and this combination makes the motion of the boat completely creasy. The wind became too weak to stabilize in the steep and confused sea. Moon rolled and moved up and down rapidly, sometimes losing speed. On top of that we got almost a knot counter current, making us wonder if we could reach our planned anchorage before dark. But the current was caused by the tide and that changes as you know. Later we got following current that made up for the previous loss in speed.
Finally late evening we got some protection from shallow areas and small islands. In fog and decreasing day light we reach our cove behind some islands, rocks and icebergs shortly after midnight.
We were quite exhausded after the last fifteen hours with difficult sea and fog that made the radar not so “skilled” to see the difference between icebergs and breaking waves. We had to keep watch up in the cockpit all the time.
Shortly after midnight we were secured and an hour later it was completely dark and we were asleep.
20 July Friday Qagssimiut, Greenland – Julianehåb 37 nm
Fifth day of our crossing became only 17 hours and 102 nm. Average speed over all 726 nm from Newfoundland was 6,4 knots, current included.
We woke up around eight to a world of fog. Almost no movements among the houses ashore. Had breakfast and then weigh anchor to go to Julianehåb, a bigger village/town further south through the archipelago. Kelp on the chain and anchor took some time to get rid of, but oddly enough we didn’t have to break lose the anchor from the bottom, in spite we had used our normal routine to dig it down into the bottom. Either the heavy kelp concealed the breaking lose by only the weight of Moon, or the bottom is very different from what we are used to. Will be interesting to learn next time we anchor.
First five miles was in fog and exposed to some ocean swell, but then the sky cleared and we were among protecting island with no wind and calm seas. Lots of icebergs! Very nice and all came in different size and shapes. Yesterday’s horrible sea state and all struggles we had to live with out there were suddenly completely forgotten. This is really the perfect place for us! A mix between Patagonia and our archipelago back home, spiced with icebergs “everywhere”. Yesterday we had sometimes been asking ourselves what we were doing, but now we know why, and it’s really worth all the efforts.
All the way between islands in protected waters to Julianehåb we had good weather. Some fog in the beginning and for twenty minutes shortly before reaching harbour. Two big ice bergs just outside the harbour made the day just perfect.
Tied up to the big wharf and found the harbourmaster just as he was leaving for the weekend, another perfect timing. Yes we could stay at the wharf over the weekend and the customs will come to the boat.
Half an hour later Lars, the customs official came and stamped our passports. A friendly Danish guy and he gave us all sorts of information about Greenland and where to get things. He offered us to come back tomorrow and by car drive us around for more information.
The trip from Qagssimiut, the weather, the friendly harbourmaster and Lars, together it all summed up to make our feelings of Greenland extremely good. It reminded us of nice days on Faroe Islands, similar landscape and friendly people, but no icebergs!
On top of all this we can use our native language talking to locals! For the first time since we left home thirteen years ago. It really contributes to the welcoming atmosphere and we feel we are two of many Scandinavians living in town!
During a walk around town we found a Greenland curtsey flag and some Danish bread and food that we had been dreaming of for a long time.
Had a salmon dinner in Moon before a film to keep us awake not to go to sleep too early.
21 July Saturday Qaqortaq/Julianehåb
Soft rain all night and very low clouds when we woke up.
Used the morning after breakfast to do some writing and Annika went to the hotel to get WiFi.
Before lunch we did another more “heavy” shopping walk. Had lunch and after that Lars came for coffee. He showed us on the charts places we shouldn’t miss during our Greenland cruise.
After that we all went for a tour around Julianehåb in his car with a lot of photo stops under a clearing sky. The tour ended in Lars neighbor’s house where we had a traditional Danish beer and a very pleasant conversation about life in Julianehåb compared to other places in Greenland. We later, after a few beers, walked down to the harbour and Moon.
This night we had dinner at the Thai restaurant in the harbour. Annika had duck and Björn had Musk Ox, a Greenland speciality in a Thai restaurant! The latter was a bit though, but delicious.
Back at the wharf a Norwegian sailboat had arrived from Newfoundland.
22 July Sunday Julianehåb – Qaqartaq Kirkeruin 12 nm
We woke around six o’clock because someone was on the deck! A guy from the harbour told us that we had to move directly because there was a big ship coming in. We were rapidly dressed and ten minutes later we left the wharf with the big ship only minutes away. We tied up to the wharf around the corner and the ship moored simultaneously. The other two sailboats rafted together on a barge across the wharf.
Annika walked over and asked the Norwegian guys about charts for eastern Greenland, but they had nothing better than the ones we have. Got advice from a local to check if the chandler/gas station had any, but in that case ours were better!
Looks like we will not cruise very many fjords on the east coast after the passage of Prins Christians Sound.
Lars came and showed us a chart, but again it was a big scale with little information in the fjords. He had a friend just arriving with a coastal cargo ship. Annika and Lars walked over and looked at his chart. Same rough quality as ours. OK now we at least have tried to find better charts, and there are none! Radar and eco sounder are the tools for navigating in these waters.
Shortly after we left the wharf and motored out of from the harbour under a clear blue sky and no wind. Hoisted a full main to dry it and to get all reef wrinkles straighten out. Perfect weather for sail reconditioning. Even the tight furled Yankee was out and more loosely furled when dried.
Motored for two hours up the fjord to a famous church ruin from the first settlers in 985 and had been in use until late 1400. Difficult to imagine with Christianity and the Vikings! Anchored under a steep high mountain and had lunch. Just had to see if there were any fish interested in getting caught – and yes, tried four times and got four nice sized cods.
Then launched the dinghy and drove to the jetty at the ruin. We had the whole site to ourselves for an hour. Walking back to the dinghy a boat came with six locals. We talked with them as they asked about Moon on anchor a few hundred meters away.
Then a dinghy ride passing Moon into a big “lake” where we tied the dinghy ashore and walked up the hill to a great waterfall. Took lots of nice photos in the fantastic weather.
Back in Moon we could see two other boats leaving the “Ruin jetty” with lots of people. Half an hour later came two 35 feet boats with another two loads of tourists. Lucky we are far away and didn’t even hear the boat engines.
A shower before it was time for our evening procedures, dinner and so on.
Annika & Björn