Safe arrival in Aasiaat
As I write we are just reaching our approach to Aasiaat at 6 o’clock on Sunday evening. The gentle winds from the South stayed with us for a day, but then, as forecast, backed to the North East. It then picked up and came in from the North, and there we were tacking again in order to reach our destination. Although we have been sailing fairly close the coast, apart from our Westward forays, we have seen very little of Greenland, as a lot of the time we have been shrouded in fog, sailing in a little mist defined circle with often less than a few hundred yards visibility all round. The fog has been tantalizing thin, with a weak sun often visible above us and occasionally the fog has lifted to reveal a breath taking view of the mountains and glaciers of the mainland.
One such occasion was when we crossed the Arctic Circle, which we celebrated by popping a bottle of bubbly, accompanied by a rousing performance of the Hallelujah chorus. Snoopy of course joined in the celebrations, as did ‘Pig’, a doughty little fellow who has survived a near death experience in a Greek rubbish tip and who accompanies Max on all his adventures. You can see Pig, standing confidently on the mug rack. He has definitely found his sea legs.
Having made a slightly disparaging remark about Snoopy in the last blog, I have been reminded pretty sharpish by Cap’n Tim that Snoopy has in fact crossed the Arctic Circle once before when he was taken on as Able Sea Dog Snoopy, on a trip to the Lofoten Islands. I apologise unreservedly for calling him a ‘pole bagger’.
Although it has not been a long passage, last night was quite wearing, reefed down and beating into a fair Northerly. With five people on board it is not as easy to find comfortable bunks for everyone. Poor James was tipped smartly from his berth in the saloon in the middle of the night, when John and I executed a tack, which involves a whole series of processes and requires some concentration. We were feeling quite pleased with ourselves at a job well done, when we looked below and saw James, cocooned in his sleeping bag scrabbling half on the floor, half in the bunk, trying to extricate himself so he could move across the cabin the new leeward bunk. Kat in the meantime was spending the night trying to wedge herself sideways in the forward cabin, being lifted bodily from her bunk from time to time as we slammed into the occasional rogue wave. She was remarkably cheerful about it all this morning as the photo below testifies.
The repairs we carried out in Nuuk are holding up well. The heating is working and the anchor is firmly secured so we no longer have to endure the excruciating sound of it scraping across the bow roller and then the bang and clang as it gradually loosens its chain. The one thing that continues to give us a problem is the hydro-generator. The new tie-down arrangement devised in Nuuk broke after a few hours in a very moderate sea. We did post a photograph to the manufacturers when ashore to ask their advice and have had an email to say they have a solution that requires a small gizmo that they can easily supply us ‘from stock’. As we don’t know how long we’ll be anywhere or where we will be going next, this is not going to be a solution. We just hope than when we get the photograph that they’ve sent, we’ll be able to fettle something up. We are now reliant on the main engine and the notoriously tricksy Whispergen for our power. The Whispergen is behaving uncharacteristcally well at the moment. Long may it last.
Working with the compass is getting interesting up here. The magnetic variation is a whopping 35 degrees, so magnetic bearings are becoming almost useless. John has now set all the instruments to true directions. We are told that going through the North West Passage, a compass is virtually useless as it effectively wants to point down into the earth. Apparently we will have to rely on GPS when we are there.
We have been eating well, using the meals we prepared in Nuuk and the meals brought out by James and Kat. We have noticed, however, that the quantities of food for five people that were perfectly adequate when sailing in trade winds across the Atlantic Ocean are not sufficient when people are dealing with the cold. We’ve also noticed the restorative powers of a hot meal when you’ve spent a three hour watch out in the clammy fog. Not only do you feel an inner glow, but spirits are immediately lifted. I think the morning porridge regime will start tomorrow!
We tied up alongside Nordlys and Revenge in Aasiaat at 10.00 p.m, sun still shining. The approach was intermittently foggy, so thank goodness for radar and GPS. Celebration took the form of cracking the bottle of Arctic Sloe Gin, kindly provided by Cap’n Tim.