Friday 6th July 76:51 N 15:39 E

Sat 7 Jul 2018 12:33

Friday 6th July 76:51 N 15:39 E

The sound of the engine. Rocking, motion, someone drying the dishes. Seven people but always a few asleep, a couple on deck and one at the chart table. Maybe someone in the galley. Progress. No wind. Flat sea, a few ripples. A bird breaking the surface of the water. Distant mountains. Snow covered. Cloud covered. A glimmer of sunshine. A schedule,

Team A 0000-0400
Team B 0400-0800
Team A 0800-1200
Team B 1200-1600
Team A 1600-2000
Team B 2000-0000
Eat, sail, sleep repeat.


A formula 2e + 0.5h = diesel consumption. It’s fairly accurate.
Latitude and longitude. Plot our position. Bearings. Add or subtract variation? The auto helm takes us where we tell it to.


Continuous cooking. Beans. Veggies. Lentils. Porridge. Egg. Soup.
Clean the bowls with bread. Whose bowl is the cleanest?
Bucket over the side for some sea water to wash up in. Water consumption is minimal. Diesel consumption is maximal. Nice new engine panel. No water ingress yet.


Pouring over the forecast. Peter E consulted by sat phone for extra information. Strong winds forecast for a few days. Let’s motor south while we can. Still Svalbard, safety awaits us in Hornsund, the furthest fjord south. We may have to wait there for strong winds to blow through.


Last night we moored alongside Barentsburg for a couple of hours. More than enough time to see this Russian mining town contrasting sharply with the beautiful Gronfjorden (green fjord) in which it lay. The late hour, drizzle, piles of of coal and puffing chimneys didn’t help and as for the architecture....apart from a beautiful wooden Orthodox chapel/shrine, it wasn’t attractive in the slightest. In fact rather depressing! On reading its history it becomes even more in 1916 by the Russians it was apparently large in scale for its time, sold to a Dutch company who invested heavily in it for 6 years with a high standard of living conditions. Back to the Russians in 1932 who expanded it still further. Lenin is there. A school. A hotel. A pub. A hospital. Concrete slabs for roads. Bombed and almost demolished by the German battleship Tirpitz in 1943 it was thoroughly rebuilt and new mines opened.
Disasters...1996 141 killed on an internal flight to Longyearbyen. 1997 23 miners died in a fire. In some respects more depressing than Pyramiden because people still live and work there. Midnight and the skipper wanted us back on board. We were glad to get back on board and join him and motor off into the night.

A moment in time (entry from Mary)

15.45 the sun is out, Mary has emerged from a couple of hours sleep and everyone is doing something. Daniel is minding the helm (and reading), Peter is snoozing in the cockpit, Patrick is checking the weather data, Kirsty is looking at the chart (still a long way to go.....), Lorna is asleep and Virginia is completing a cookathon whilst the weather is calm and before the expected bad weather. Virginia has definitely worked the hardest day today and has prepared and cleared up several meals for the hungry team.

Just as the watch changed we put up the sails and switched the engine off - peace for a short while whilst Virginia helmed but only short lived unfortunately so the engine is back on and we are enjoying the magnificent scenery in beautiful sunny weather.

Another couple of moments in time (Virginia)


Peter is helming. Instructions from Kirsty and Daniel: iceberg ahead, turn left. Turn right.
Instructions from Virginia (down below) : rocks ahead, tack. Tack NOW.
Mary is “sleeping” whilst we frequently tack close to the shore to avoid heavy winds building up in Hornsund.


Dinner is served. The anchor drifts. Dinner is abandoned. The anchor is reset. Dinner is served. (Sorry to mention food, but it was excellent, cheesy mash with somerset stew!) Immediately after dinner the anchor team, captained by Mary and assisted by Daniel and Lorna, make three attempts to anchor, bringing up bags of curly kelp each time and covering Patrick in it as they throw it downwind. He reverses at full throttle to avoid the tripping line catching in the propeller. Patrick fights the wheel. Virginia emerges, having washed up and secured the galley in anticipation of an exit, to see 33 knots of wind and offers the helpful suggestion that we can’t anchor in this much wind. We leave our “safe haven” at midnight.


Patrick is looking serious and dead ahead. Large spins of the wheel. Peter is offering useful information. Mary watches the maximum speed (12.3 knots SOG) and Lorna the wind (average 30 and maximum 53 knots. Honestly that’s the truth) Sea Fever has never seen this much wind. Virginia is down below on the chart issuing instructions which are hard to follow when you’re fighting with the boat (but we don’t want the rocks either!) and everyone is scared except Peter. “With Patrick on the wheel?” Daniel and Kirsty sleep....

03:00 it must be Saturday....

We have exited Hornsund and with the winds moderating tea and Lorna’s cake are served on deck as we negotiate our way into a small anchorage not far round the corner, watching steaming winds racing above Hornsund. Geography lesson about glaciers, cold air and strong winds, and the suggestion that maybe a sunny day today meant even more wind. Anyway, we have found a nice quiet anchorage and the anchor holds in one. Tea and cake all round again. With whisky and wine for the skippers. Bed 0430. Peter is up three times for the alarm and all too soon it’s time for the morning report from Peter E back home in sunny England. Patrick and I take this on the foredeck to avoid waking sleeping bodies, light winds and grey skies, outcrops of white rocks contrasting with the black scree of the mountains. A high spiky majestic peak, Hornsundtinden, 1431m, lurks in the background and we are lucky enough to see it, as this area can be foggy. The scenery in Hornsund was amazing, glaciers and steep mountains with clouds rushing down them, and the beach at our anchorage, Gashamna, showed plenty of historic remnants from whaling (1600-1700) Russian overwintering trapping, Norwegian trapping and the remains from one of the first great international research in the Arctic. The Russian party of the Swedish-Russian Arc of Meridian Expedition built a large research station here in 1899

Snapshot from Lorna. 1145 Preparations to depart.
Virginia digging around the deep storage for food supplies for our long trip ahead. The dried peas are soaking.
Mary is peeling boiled eggs-more onward journey food prep.
Kirsty finishing breakfast and more food talk.
Patrick and Daniel filling the diesel tank from cans and checking rigging for any damage sustained in last night’s storm.
Peter sleep. A much needed rest after his double watch rolled into an anchor watch(up 3 times).
Daniel and me to do engine checks.
Industrious activities all round and spirits high.

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