A long day on the water

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Sat 31 Jul 2010 14:49
70:59.609N 52:14.882W Saturday morning

I was too tired to write the blog last night after we travelled 138 miles in 20 hours. Richard and I got up at 0400, raised the anchor and got underway. It was a stunning morning. The sunlight was from a low angle and illuminated everything with red. As we motored down the "canal" from our anchorage, the moon sat overhead and there wasn't a ripple to disturb the reflections on the water.

The scale of this landscape is always surprising. On the chart, it looked as though we'd soon be out of the fjord and into the open sea but it took several hours. Just before the end of the fjord, we passed a settlement called Sondre Upernavik and we saw a few open boats buzzing around. One guy came right up alongside us, waved and then just kept station with us. I think he was just so surprised to see us coming out of the fjord that he just wanted to reassure himself we were really there. He signed to us that he lived in the village and then zoomed off, his lightweight boat bouncing over the waves under the power from the oversize outboard.

We turned South and tracked down the coast. Kali took over the watch at 0800 and I went back to bed until midday. Got up and had baked spuds with beans and discussed our destination with Kali. We could stop at around 80 miles covered or carry on towards Umanak. We thought that it would be better to go the whole way in one go, otherwise we'd have another fairly long day to do so we kept going. I knew from the grib (weather) files that the wind in Umanak fjord was likely to be against us but we thought we'd give it a go. As it turned out, the gribs were spot on and we spent 50 miles or so hammering into an uncomfortable chop kicked up by a 20-25 knot wind on the nose. We took a lot of water over the deck undoing some of the work Kali and Richard did the day before in washing everything down with fresh water. Hey ho!

Richard and I were doing a series of experiments with the diesel system to try to narrow down where the air is coming from and we think we learned something - about time, we've been chasing it for weeks. Andrea was filming herself dressed as Janeway sailing past a series of large icebergs - we even went past one of them twice so she could get the shot.

The islands where we were heading have massive mountains on them so we could see them from miles away. The trouble with that is that you think you're nearly there and then it takes hours to actually arrive. As it was, we kept saying "we'll get some shelter in a minute" but, in fact, we didn't get any until about 200 meters from the land. By then, we could see a small cove that was well sheltered from the swell. The pilot book showed an even smaller inlet going inland from the cove but with a very shallow bit before the end. It looked like it was high tide so I decided to give it a go as we all needed a peaceful night.

The inlet turned out to look very similar to the one we were in the previous night but even narrower and shallower. At the shallowest bit, we had less than 1 meter below the keel but it got deeper after that. We turned around, Kali did the strops and ropes and Andrea dropped the anchor. We motored back into position, Kali made the first shore line fast and, as she headed for shore with the second one, Richard and I were congratulating each other on our textbook mooring technique. Just at that moment, our end of the mooring line shot through the cleat and followed Kali towards the shore. We were killing ourselves laughing and calling to her to bring our end of the line back to us. Serves us right for being so cocky before the manouever was complete.

Once we were safely tied up, we relaxed and caught up on the calories that we hadn't consumed earlier thanks to the rough conditions. Richard's chocolate cake got eaten even though it's supposed to be maturing for a few days. It's so calm in this inlet that we were all just content to sit outside and take it all in. The midnight sun was illuminating patches of the surrounding mountains and we could hear a fox yelping. Then the most incredible sound. A Diver - I think it's the bird the Canadians call a Loon - made an echoing, yodelling call. I've always loved that sound when I've heard it on films about the Canadian lakes and it was magical to hear it here. It's a perfect sound of the wilderness. Wonderful.

That was about it for me. I was asleep on my feet so staggered off to bed and slept until about 10 this morning when Andrea and Richard made a lovely cooked breakfast. It's raining hard outside so I think we'll just do maintenance stuff for a while and see if it eases off.


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