Sat 9 Aug 2008 12:21
Well here I am, slightly more refreshed than I was at 0305 hrs when I finally managed to get my head down. Regrettably I was woken again at 0445 to send a position report to the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre. We have to send these every 6 hours now that we are in Greenlandic waters until we enter port. We arrived 75 miles off Cape Farewell yesterday and since then have been battling winds, magnetic anomalies and stuff to make progress towards our next waypoint. I rose this morning to find that we had gone backwards in the 4 ours I was away from the helm! Oh well, these things happen. We are now sailing in daylight, a fresh and chilly northerly breeze blowing down the Labrador Sea from the Arctic. We have about 8 hours sailing to reach the East Greenland current which will favorably take Adventure up the west coast at about 0.5 kts. Every little helps - as this could give us an extra 12 miles over 24 hours if we are lucky. Only issue remains fog and ice. The current is exactly the area within 30 miles of the coast where these things occur. The East coast has ice bergs that float south in the East Greenland current and some turn north up the west side but most on the west coast are calves from fjords or sea ice. A couple of people thought they heard sea ice running along the hull. Not confirmed, but the sea temperature might support some bits.
Bird life has become more prolific. Most of our passage we have been accompanied by white and grey sea birds that have swooped and banked in our turbulent airflow and swept in towards the rigging. They perform stunning passes and low level runs that touch the wave top almost - they remind me on barnstormers at an air show. More recently we have picked up a number of other species, most noticeably some puffins. Now they are really cute, skimming short distances along the sea surface before diving under the waves. I think I was the first to see an Arctic Tern, so clearly distinguishable by its shape and colour when compared to the common sea birds. And last evening we were sailing to windward but on a beat in the confused airs following a blow but with the swell from the stern from that blow, strange conditions. But it brought tens of sea birds using the lift created to fly without effort behind us and soar up in to the sky, banking round only to have another run at us; felt like being under attack by a squadron of Spitfires!
The other noticeable change is the air temperature - it is decidedly chilly now. All have donned more layers and thermals. The rather sexy look of thermal long johns under shorts is sported by a few of us! All the rage really. Others have donned their provided Musto midlayers under their oillies and now look like Michelin people. Hats and gloves are essential and we have still not found a glove that remains dry. Drying anything is difficult so it is guaranteed to be an uncomfortable task to don cold wet gloves for a 4 hour watch in the Arctic airs. Morale remains high. We have a long beat to windward now - 400 miles or so if the wind does not change. But at present we have a flat sea so it is perfectly comfortable.