A rainy day on Disko island

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Wed 14 Jul 2010 23:20
69:33.265N 053:35.332W Wednesday evening

It's only about 9pm here but I'm almost falling asleep after a very long night and day. As Andrea and I were doing our watch last night, the wind was gradually building and we ended up sailing almost dead downwind with just the Genoa up and it was like that when we went to bed at 2000. Kali and Richard soon had the double headsails up with the poles and then the wind built some more. The result was a very fast night's sailing but the boat was getting tossed around all over the place and we didn't get much sleep.

When we came back on watch this morning at 0400, it was blowing a full gale and we needed to change course to head further East into the fjord on Disko island. That meant dropping the poles and resetting the sails. Luckily, Richard was still there to give us a hand as it turned into a bit of a nightmare. We couldn't get the Genoa to furl away - it kept tripping its circuit breaker and we couldn't work out why. We now think that the rig wasn't put up quite correctly and one of the spinnaker halyards was getting caught around the genoa stopping it furling in. In the end, we just furled it all the way out and back on itself which got it out of the way but wasn't pretty. We then furled in the jib and put the main out which gave us enough drive to cover our course. I'm not convinced that setting such a complex rig in a building wind is worth the hassle and we'll have to have a chat about that.

As it was, we were still sailing fast but the wind dropped a bit. It was tipping with rain, though and the visibility was poor. Among the rain echoes, the radar was showing a series of large icebergs, mostly grounded on the rocks around the entrance to Disko fjord. As they were grounded, they were shedding a lot of growlers which would have damaged us if we'd hit any. We had to keep a very sharp lookout while also navigating into the fjord. That's not as easy as usual as we can't really trust the electronic charts up here. They show the correct things most of the time but not necessarily in exactly the same place as the GPS thinks. Radar is much more reliable so I was glued to the screen while Andrea was on growler watch.

As we entered the fjord, things calmed down and we lost the big waves. The respite was only temporary, though, as the winds were now getting funnelled between the peaks and we had some katabatic gusts up to 40 knots while we were trying to sort out the poles and headsails and get everything safely stowed. When Andrea looked at the time and realised that we had finished our watch, we were amazed as it seemed as though we'd only been on for an hour. Kali came up to keep Richard company and Andrea went to bed and I had a power-nap before we reached our intended anchorage.

The anchorage is a small side valley fed by a large river. The water is so full of sediment that you can see a line in the fjord where it joins the cleaner sea water. The sediment has left a good muddy bottom for us to sink our anchor into so we're secure and happy in the middle of an open bay. Once we'd anchored, Andrea, Kali and I had a bit of toast, beans and eggs and then went to bed for a couple of hours. Then up for some lunch - I've been starving all day after that night. This afternoon, I've been fixing the pump on our grey water sump, Richard has replaced the macerator on the forward heads, Andrea has failed to catch some Arctic Char helped by Jamie and Kali has done some splendid cooking. The weather has been so wet that I haven't been outside since my watch although the others have been kitted out with their waterproofs and bravely facing the elements.

Hopefully, the weather will improve tomorrow and we can have an explore along with doing some other jobs on the rig that weren't very attractive in the rain. Right now, though, I'm just looking forward to my bed.


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