from Seal's Logs

The Greenland Expedition 2005

Bahamas/Belize 2005

The Build

Pre Seal


The Greenland Expedition, 2005

  • Maine to Nova Scotia

  • Nova Scotia to Newfoundland

  • Newfoundland to Greenland

      After a day or so, the wind crept up to 40 knots, with gusts to 50. In went the fourth reef, and a few more turns on the forestay.

      It was handsteering weather, so we stood watches of 6 on/3 off, which isn’t quite enough sleep. One person helmed, the other did nav and stood by ready to reef.

      The seas were dark gray, dotted with turquoise left behind after breakers. Just above the face of the water, streams of water flew along, not yet at true spindrift, but definitely airborn. Northern Fulmars swooped around the boat, resting in front of us, and then running along the water to take off, just in time. We had a half dozen with us the entire way, until the wind crept above 40, and they must have had the sense to stay on the outer edge of the low. A few murres crouched on the water. Click for full entry

  • Nuuk fjord system

      In a gorgeous spot south of Kapisillit Kangerluaq. Flowers, snow on the mountains. Magnificent Sea Eagle today. Icebergs floating by. Quote from Helen as she did her schoolwork in the raised saloon: "Hey look, there's an iceberg." Not many school children get to say that as they practice their math. Inside the fjords, it is often warm (60 F today) and sunny when outside it is a cloudy gale. The hill walking is marvelous, and we are on the lookouts for shadows of ruins from the old Norse settlement of West Bygd. There are buttercups by streams of glacial run off. We think we spied the flat white plane of the ice cap through a gap in the stony mountains. We hiked up a hill to see the ice choked Kangersuneq Fjord - so packed with bergs that we can't see any water between them from our vantage point on the hill.

      Eqaluit Ilorlitt: we met with Andy O'Grady and Ulla Norlander aboard Balaena. They're very experienced cruisers, and Andy has recently published a book on Ocean Sailing Routes. They had recently spent several years in Chile, Tierra del Fuego and South Georgia, so we have many mutual friends. A Dane from Nuuk came by with his Inuit wife and their granddaughter, bringing as much Arctic Char as we could eat, and we all spent the evening looking out at the mountains from the raised saloon. Some of the Greenlandic place names are starting to roll off our tongues, but common words elude us. Hello is easy enough: Haluu, but Goodbye (Inuulluarit) has sounds in it that I don't even know how to begin making. We learned the words for Seal (puisi) and Char (equaluk, as in Eqaluit Ilorlitt), and worked on thank you (qujanaq). Ulla is Swedish, which is close enough to Danish for conversation. Helen and Anna had to make do with sign language with six year old Kistaaraq. Ulla made the roe into caviar, and showed us how to make gravalax.

  • Ameralik to Sisimuit

      We arrived in Sisimuit today at about 2 pm and went straight to sleep! It was an eventful passage, hard to believe after several flat calm warm days up the fjords. We'd expected 30 knots, but instead found 45, building to a steady 50 at times with 60 knot gusts. Seal did wonderfully, even during a crash gybe at 50 knots - fortunately, the runners are farther aft than the boom, so it didn't do serious damage and all the elastic in the preventer system came into play. All we need to do is a minor repair to the lazy jacks. (I remembered my conversations with the mast designer, reminding him that we sail with inexperienced guests: it's not if we gybe or if we stick the boom in the water, it's when!)

      Yet again, we finished by running down through submerged rocks in fingernail biting nav this time with the main down and just a smidge of jib on the pole. We turned the corner into Sisimuit harbor and it was blowing FOUR knots. That's four, not force 4! Quite a contrast. We decided to stop here because we were quite tired, but also because once we turn the corner into Disko Bay there will be much more ice, and we would have had a very hard time seeing it in all the breakers and white caps.

      Sisimuit is a beautiful town, the first one above the Arctic circle (we did manage to get a tot of whisky over the side for King Neptune shortly after crossing; funny thing, the wind came down and the seas moderated after that; I am sure it is not my imagination!!)

  • Sisimuit to Kronprinsens Ejland (Disko Bay)

      We are now officially in the Arctic and there is no sunrise or sunset here until July 23. We sailed into the narrow inside passage just south of Aasiaat and first started coming through fields of icebergs (between Nuuk and Aasiaat is relatively ice free, though we did see bergs).

      Hamish sat at the chart table, plotting radar fixes and watching the bergs. "Do you remember a year ago this time?" he asked. "We were building the chart table, and I sat here and looked through the plastic tarp at the apple tree and said, 'Someday, we'll see icebergs out this window.' And there they are!"

      Our official destination for this leg was Aasiaat, where we will pick up two new guests in a week's time. At 0445, we motored into town, and at 0446, we turned around and headed north to Kronprinsens Ejland, which is halfway between Aasiaat and Disko Island. The icebergs were magnificent, but apparently only a teaser of what is to come in the next few days.

      We're now trussed up in an inlet, with 700 feet of shoreline to the opposite island, and a 150 pound Luke anchor off the bow. Our stern is backed up to a waterfall on the southern island, and we've just finished filling our tanks with delicious moss-cleaned water. This is more like it. Jason and Hamish are threatening to go snorkelling this afternoon (in dry suits). Growlers pass by on the current - we had to drag one (about the size of Seal) away from our anchor chain last night.



    Belize, 2005

    The Build, 2000-2004

      Rogues' Gallery All who helped with the build

      Metalwork, Kanter Yachts Ontario (links to the rest of the build pictures can be found by scrolling to the bottom of the Metalwork page)

      Launch & Fit-out, Durham, NH (links to the rest of the build pictures can be found by scrolling to the bottom of the Launch and Fit-out page)



    Pre Seal


    Antarctic iceberg


    • Sailing Way Down South: A Deep Keel in a Tight Place (a rendezvous with Ellen MacArthur)

    • The Art of Herding Icebergs (cruising in Antarctica)

      Not yet online ...

    • Titanic Bergs: Cold Comfort to Pelagic Crew (Antarctica) Pelagic bows to a williwaw
    • A Young Mariner Meets Her Albatross (South Georgia Island)
    • Into the Unknown in Tierra del Fuego
    • Shopping for Survival on a Modern-Day Pequod

    1885 gaff cutter Partridge


    • A Yacht Reborn (1885 gaff cutter Partridge in the Isle of Wight)
    • Lovebirds at Sea Hoist Sails Into the Mistral (The Mediterranean Classic Yacht Circuit aboard the 1885 gaff cutter Partridge)



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