"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret do cuments the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them intouch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…fornow.“Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not.Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.
July 31, 2014
Position: 55 11.02N 52 15.50W 224nm from the turning mark off Red Bay, Labrador. (0842 local time)
Hello mis amigos, Egret put to sea this morning at 0315. We could have left at 0245 had we known. So what’s the big deal about a half hour difference on departure? It isn’t that big a deal, however IF we averaged more than our projected 6.5 knots and IF we decided to still make landfall at Battle Harbour, Labrador and IF we haven’t decided to keep going because the weather was so good, we might have landed in daylight instead of darkness. It is the voyage details that make the difference. Anyhow, it is what it is and her current course is to Battle Harbour.
Fortunately there wasn’t any fog like the evening before. It was clear with 0.0 knots of wind so threading thru the harbor approach ice was a no brainer. Even though a few weeks ago the harbor was choked by ice to the degree no ships of any size could approach the dock, that ice is adios. In fact a supply ship was on its way in as we departed.
The last two days in Nanortalik was high summer play days for the kids. They set up a blow-up jump house and trampoline for the kids. There were jillions of little kids doing their deal squealing and shouting as kids do with a few parents doing their duty watching the little ones have fun. Early next week the Danish Crown Prince, his Australian born Princess and their 4 children are coming for a visit. Two of their children have Greenlandic names. Greenland is like Puerto Rico to the U.S. or St Helena Island for the British, Reunion Island, for the French, etc. The couple will do the usual Royal duties making the rounds and at least they will have a kayak trip thru the ice for personal fun. We met the lady who will drive them in town so we got the low down.
Departing Greenland last year for Iceland we enjoyed the most fantastic sunrise display of light and ice you can imagine. This year was no different except Egret was running with the sunrise, not into it. It was spectacular as the sky morphed from color to color. There were bands of fog now and again that would dull the light show and during one bout of fog we were passing a large iceberg and it decided to shed a bit of ice. In heavy fog both radar’s are running and I stand at the wheel even though she is running on autopilot, just in case. In this case there was a loud boom that shot thru the hull and I knew exactly what was happening. Mary and Dick were snoozing so I called them up to see the happening. A large piece of ice that broke off the berg stayed reasonably close but shards of ice, some the size of a delivery van split big time and pushed out into a semi-circle of white ice and foam. We popped off autopilot and steered hard to starboard. However, we did take the time to fire off a couple shots. This photo shows the splash falling and there is nothing to scale the iceberg but it was quite large, sorta like 15 story building size. INSERT PHOTO HERE. (Later. Sorry, I forgot. I can’t send photos until we get internet so you’ll have to wait. This is how I usually write and PAE’s web guru Doug Harlow inserts the photographs.)
Here are a three photographs from this morning’s light show taken for a period of 7 minutes when the piece broke off to the last shot. We have friends building their new dream boat who have been to Greenland in the past. He has been sending a list of things to see but we have already seen them because like them, we choose the best of the best. So now we’ll send along a few snaps to let them know what they are missing so they may hurry and return to the Land of Whales and Ice.
Early on including offshore, the sea was oily calm with a less than 1m swell. It was like near-glass. There was under 3 knots of wind. It was ourkindasea. There was little motion. The Naiad’s were centered. The lack of wind and seas plus the early morning light show made this Greenland departure as good as it can get. The widely scattered ice didn’t extend beyond 30nm offshore. There wasn’t a time Egret had to change direction except for steering away from the broken ice. Now 13 hours since departure, after a bit of fog and light rain the skies have cleared and we have a horizon, there is 8 knots of wind and less than 1m seas from the south-southwest. (Egret’s course is just west of southwest so the wind and seas are now off the port bow.) Egret’s average speed since Nanortalik is 7.0 knots running at 1600 RPM. Her average speed from Iceland to her present position is 6.8 knots including chugging slowly thru the ice and Prince Christian Sound.
The American sloop that wanted to follow Egret out of the harbor is still 2 1/2nm behind following in our wake. There are 4 nice guys aboard. The owner, a friend and a father-son team. To be fair and as vague as possible, in the last VofE, I never mentioned the manufacturer of the boat, the boat name or their names other to say they are Americans. However, I planned to write about them since the get-go because they Don’t Belong Here. What I’m going to write is for you to learn, not something about them. The owner crossed to Scandinavia a couple years ago. The return trip took them to an island off the south coast of Iceland, to the East Coast of Greenland, thru PCS to Nanortalik, and will take them to Labrador then on to their destination. The entire crew including the owner are relative newbies. They don’t understand weather, for one thing. They used the weather information I Told them, not Showed them and some obscure source of gribs they found. When we met the crew, they said they didn’t think they were going to make it approaching PCS and it wasn’t even blowing a gale, just a fresh breeze, and ice wasn’t a problem. On the trip to Scandinavia the boat motored 80% of the time. Amazing, particularly for such a capable boat. The percentage should have been reversed. I’m not going to pick on small items but the package rolls into: They Should Not Be Here. They are in High Latitudes when anything could happen at any time. What would happen if they got caught in storm force winds? In Ice? Who knows? It would have been much safer to hop down to Portugal, SW Spain, Gibraltar, etc and shoot over to the Azores and west from there. They would have learned more and it would be much safer. Anyhow, I don’t enjoy harping on safety but it is so important. Plus, the entire cruising community suffers if the unprepared, uneducated suffer a Bad Ending. And the worst part? The boat is for sale when they return. They are so far out of their ability and comfort zone………let’s call it what it is, uneasiness and fear is ending his sailing career. It could have been the other way enjoying years safely on the water. Sad, isn’t it? The owner has the same ability to learn as you or ourselves but he didn’t take the time to learn slowly with baby steps.
Next day. Today it chopped up a bit and the wind swung more west than south southwest putting the seas on the stbd bow. Still, it isn’t bad and our little white fiberglass ship is absolutely eating the ocean and spitting out spray. She has maintained an average speed of 7 knots since leaving Greenland. Even after all this time I still can’t get over the way she handles the seas.
Later. Its 2315 on Thursday. Dick comes on watch in 45 minutes. This evening the seas laid down a bit with dimished wind. Earlier in the evening we hit a foul current and speed dropped to the low 6 knot range but now the speed is bouncing between 6.9 and 7.2 knots. The sailboat has fallen well behind and is barely in VHF range. The owner called this afternoon and said they will stay in Battle Harbour for 2 days to recover from the crossing. We’ll have caribou stew in Red Bay and move along. No problem.
Incidentally, we changed course for Red Bay, around 50nm farther south along the coast instead of our original destination of Battle Harbour. We have a good chance of arriving in Red Bay during the last bit of daylight. If not, the entrance is straight forward with no hazards so entering under radar, depth finder and chart plotter will be easy. Red Bay received UNESCO World Heritage status a few weeks before Egret arrived last year. RB was our first Labrador landfall. Clearing Customs may be a challenge. The Canadian Border Security Agency only has a single arrival post in Labrador and this serves the airport in Goose Bay, well inland. In any case, on the approach we will call CBSA and tell them we are approaching Red Bay from Greenland and ask permission to dock and clear by phone. We know from past experience you need to be docked before you may be cleared. Egret has a Can Pass number because she has been in Canadian waters for the past 4 years. So hopefully we can clear by phone and if not, we’ll ask them what to do and we’ll do whatever it takes to be cleared in legally. We’ll have the answer in the next VofE.
In summary, so far the seas have been kind, the wind hasn’t exceeded 18 knots and the seas haven’t reached 2m. Life has been good with 3 great meals a day, plenty of sleep, interesting books to read and no issues.
Friday, 0842 am before sending this posting. Mary spotted a huge berg with a few trailing bits 172nm off the coast. It has slicked out to the point we are marking birds. This is not good news. If it remains slick and there isn’t any more ice we can run at speed thru the night. If it chops up again we’ll have to slow considerably if there is ice. Slow to the speed we would be willing to hit unseen ice. There is still enough light to see at 2230 and again at 0245 so the time of darkness isn’t that great but it does guarantee a night arrival in Red Bay. We’ll see.
Egret is for sale. http://youtu.be/AAR5wK-sWRs
July 31, 2014
Position: 60 08.41N 45 14.26W, Nanortalik, SW coast of Greenland
Hello mis amigos, the Egret crew is taking a weather delay and staying in Nanortalik for a few extra days to let things calm down offshore. Here’s the deal. It is a 586nm run from Nanortalik, Greenland to Battle Harbour, Labrador. Keeping within Egret’s more recent tradition to increase RPM to lessen travel time in high latitudes, at an average speed of 6.5 knots the trip will take 90 hours or 3 days and 18 hours. However, had we left today (Saturday) it would have been a different story. We would have had a little over 2 days of calm with well spaced 2m swells but then run into a southerly front with winds to 30 knots and seas to 2.2m – 7’ on 7 second spacing. This in itself isn’t that bad other than killing speed but if the forecast wind increased like the crossing from Iceland to Greenland, it could be nasty. The mild south flowing Labrador Current could get stood up and that wouldn’t be much fun, particularly making landfall in the dark. One reason we chose Battle Harbour is we were there last year and know the route around the rocks to the dock.
Yesterday evening the first cruising boat we met this year in Greenland showed up. It is a French sloop sailed by a super nice couple who have been Out the past 3 years and are returning to France via Iceland and the Faroe Islands. They tried to dock at the side of the commercial wharf but it was pretty iffy so we invited them to raft off Egret. Soon after a Norwegian sloop arrived with its owner and a friend from England as crew. The two boats met earlier up the coast and are traveling somewhat loosely along the same route to Europe. So we had the 4 of them over last night for tea & coffee and a cinnamon roll Mary baked earlier. It was quite a time as usual when yachties get together.
The Norwegian’s name is something like Radar with a rolled R so we just called him Radar and his buddy is Mike so that was easy. Radar has been Out a year. Radar is quite animated and really got into his travel itinerary. His cruise was two-fold. The first was following the slave trade to the Caribbean. He began in Lagos, Portugal where there was a large slave market, then a few more stops including Morocco, then to the Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands where there was a huge market and then up the Gambia River to a village at it’s head which set the early scene for Alex Hailey’s book, Roots. He said the people are super poor but very nice and never felt threatened and didn’t even lock his boat. I always felt only wild and crazy Frenchmen* went up the Gambia but that isn’t the case. Gambia is a tiny country that basically follows both sides of the Gambia River and it is completely surrounded by Senegal. Anyhow, from Gambia, Radar sailed back to the Cape Verde Islands then to the Caribbean and to St Thomas, St Croix and one other. I didn’t know it but the three islands were large slave colonies sold by Norway to the U.S. in 1917 for 50m U.S.
*The French are prolific world cruisers and tend to be quite adventurous. Included in this prolific overall group would be Norwegians, Swedish, British and a handful of Americans. However, the French lead the group in destinations I would consider dangerous for personal safety from the local population.
Next up, Radar followed the Viking route in reverse. He sailed from St Thomas to Bermuda, Halifax, Nova Scotia, west coast of Newfoundland, Labrador and so on to Nanortalik.
One thing that was nice to hear, both sailors said there is little ice on the southern Labrador coast so that’s good. We in turn told them the ice conditions and what to expect along the East Greenland coast then showed them photographs of the small Inuit village dock in Prince Christian Sound and the weather station dock at the east end. By seeing photographs and explanations from us, it will be super easy for them to get to the two docks and know exactly what is what. We’ve said it time and time again; we cruisers all help each other, which in turn make our travels so much easier.
Radar said they met an Aussie powerboat that cruised on it’s own bottom from Oz, thru the Panama Canal and now up to Cape Breton (Bras D’ Or Lake). Hopefully we’ll get to meet along the way. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?
The tourist season in Greenland is in full swing. Mid July to the end of August seems to be high season. In Nanortalik there is a large group of German climbers who left yesterday aboard a small fishing boat for a camp in Prince Christian Sound. They loaded bag after bag of climbing gear, tents, clothes, pallets of food etc into the forward fish hold for the trip. Soon after the climbers left there was another group of perhaps 6 Spanish hikers being taken into the back country by another boat. A couple days before there was a French kayak group and a second kayak group of Germans paddling locally and south toward the sound. When Egret was docked at the Inuit village in PCS we saw another group of kayakers. So at least this area is a mecca for the adventurous. Actually, anywhere in Greenland would be a mecca for the adventurous.
OK, so let’s get cynical for a moment and throw a fellow countryman under the bus. As we said, most of the tourists are Europeans. They are interesting and all they talk about is their upcoming adventure. However, the other day Mary and I were in the Tourist Center sending a VofE when I heard a lady say, “do I detect an American voice?” She asked Mary where we were from, Mary told her then she replied they were from “near DC”. Immediately after this, mighty world traveler (MWT) began dropping names in groups like cluster bombs. She droned on for a while setting her stage then asked Mary how long she had been here. Mary told her 3 days. Then MWT asked where she came from. Mary said Iceland. So MWT processed that for a bit then asked Mary how she got here. Mary said by boat. So again MWT was processing that to see if it compared to her helicopter trip, then she asked if it was a cruise ship. Mary said no, we came in our own boat; it’s docked right over there and she pointed. With that, MWT turned around, grabbed her quiet husband who has been thru this countless times, and split without another world. So that was cool.
Here is something of interest we’ll passing along the gist of what I wrote to a fellow long distance cruiser and photographer the other day.
From time to time we buy tabletop books with quality photography to learn about an area and also to study other photographer’s work. Usually within a day or two I regret the purchase. However, there are two that stand out.
The first we mentioned a couple times in the past. Antarctic Oasis, Under the Spell of South Georgia by Tim and Pauline Carr, ISBN 0-393-04605-2. This is a fascinating story about a couple that ultimately spent 10 years living full time as caretakers on South Georgia Island, east of the Falkland Islands and north of Antarctica. The photography is world class and the story is informative and inspirational. South Georgia Island is one stop in our personal dream trip. The Carr’s book was a big influence for the entire trip.
The second is: Rakiura, The Wilderness of Stewart Island by Rob Brown. ISBN 13: 978-1-877333-47-7. Rob’s photographs, historical and technical data gave Mary and I the spark to leave Nelson (NZ) on a 4 1/2 month winter cruise to Stewart Island during the winter of 2009. Rob’s book is well worth having, particularly because many world cruisers spend at least one season in New Zealand and the book may provide them with the same interest.
Now there is a third book that is a keeper we picked up at the Tourist Center the other day. Greenland, Land of Animal and Man, by Carsten Egevang. ISBN: 978-87-91359-99-6. Carsten is a biologist “in a position where my task is to advise the Greenland Government on sustainable exploitation”. Like the two preceding books, the photography is world class as well as the narrative. Now more than ever before, this reinforces the fact Greenland deserves as much time as anyone can give this icy wonderland during their travels. (Written in English and Danish)
If you are still in the Dreaming stage or better yet, Planning Stage, these three books from diverse locations in the world are well worth having.
So we’re winding up Egret’s time in Greenland. The weather pattern between Greenland and Labrador hasn’t changed in the past few days, in fact it has gotten even more settled. Unless there is a significant change today (when we fire this VofE into space) we will leave at the first hint of light tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.
A couple days ago an American sloop with four guys aboard rafted off Egret. The owner sailed to Norway a couple years ago and he is returning to the U.S. with a crew of friends. We had them over for tea & coffee a couple times and last night was movie night aboard Egret. They asked if they could follow Egret offshore thru the ice as we leave and we agreed. It will be a motoring affair for them with perhaps a little motor sailing once offshore but basically there won’t be much wind for the next 4 days. Thru the inshore ice we’ll travel at a speed they can maintain but once offshore, Egret will quickly out pace their shorter waterline boat.
We’ll leave you with a few snaps of Nanortalik. The next VofE will be text only from sea.
July 25, 2014
Position: 60 08.41N 45 14.26W Nanortalik, Greenland
Hello mis amigos, minutes after we fired the last VofE into space there was a small happening different than the norm. There were two contract painters at the weather station due to leave by helicopter today. Before noon we heard the chopper in the distance. It set down, loaded the two passengers, took on a drum of av gas then departed on its rounds. Helicopters are the usual method of transportation in Greenland. There are no roads connecting villages and no dependable boat/ferry service except for a few months during the summer. Dick talked to the pilot and found he knew a Swedish pilot who used to work for Dick* in Papua New Guinea. The contract pilot is Swiss who works a month on, month off schedule.
*Dick was a helicopter pilot for years in Papua New Guinea and later became part owner of the company. They flew 32 helicopters and 3 fixed wing. Most of their work was for the oil and gold mining industries.
There was a group of 5 who came down to see the painters off. Two were carrying rifles and were accompanied by their dogs. One carries a flare pistol as a further warning. When here last year we learned the dogs are the early warning system for polar bears. Last year there was a polar bear on the dock a couple weeks before Egret arrived. Last year they had 4 ice bears and TEN this spring. Yikes!
Next day, Tuesday. Today is hard to describe. We'll start with the mechanics then we'll move along to the most incredible scenery you can possibly imagine. We slept late because we could. It was nice. After breakfast we moved out into the Sound (Prince Christian Sound) and drifted AWAY from the zillion mosquitoes and emptied the fuel bladder behind the Portuguese bridge. The fuel was spotless and there wasn't a single drop of water or debris caught in the Baja filter. Later we cleaned under the bladder, cleaned the bladder and put it in the lazarette. We had an opportunity to buy cheap fuel in Greenland and again in Iceland so we loaded up. The fuel in the bladder was from Greenland.
Now The Day began. It is a full day run at low RPM to the Inuit village of Auqpilagtoq where Egret is now berthed. What is way cool is Dick had his laptop in the flybridge with photos he and we took last year in order so we could see if there were any changes. There were. Without exception the glaciers, ice fields and snow fields were less than a year ago. We bumped in and out of gear thru fairly heavy ice close to the big glacier for a few photos. Last year there was a mature seal floating on an ice flow and Dick insists the SAME seal was there this year. It is quite old with a grey beard, much larger than the usual seal, and somewhat tame. We glided to within less than 100' before it slid off the flow. We can only think this particular seal is voluntary off-limits to the hunters from the weather station to feed the dogs and the local Inuits who hunt for food, people and dogs, plus the skins.
PCS is a study in glacial action. It is so graphic that even novices like ourselves can make perfect sense of what happened over the years. There are moraine fields On Top of some mountains. In this photograph you may see the drastic size difference between what this glacier is and was. Check out the small glacier pocket in the upper right. There were 9 glaciers or remnants of glaciers in the next couple miles. A few valleys as far as you can see inland have smooth sides meaning they are glacier carved. Some areas have smooth sides (polished rock) but are heavily cut by erosion over that many more years. It was easy to spot the glaciers that meet the water way ahead. The calved ice flowed out and moved with the tides in a stream of heavy ice. The trip was absolute magic. We hand steered the entire way from the flybridge. Ate lunch in the flybridge. Had multiple spots of tea and biscuits in the flybridge. It was magic. Or did I say that before?
So it went until we arrived at the village. A 30ish something man and his two children met us at the dock and took our lines. His English was good so we chatted as long as we could stand the mosquitoes. His kids looked like windmills keeping the bugs away. Two days ago an ice bear* (polar bear) attacked two locals and got shot for the effort. The locals didn't get hurt. He explained this is their (local Inuit) hunting and fishing season. The ice bears float south on the East Greenland Current and into the sound. When the ice grounds they get off and hunt seals. What I would like to know if the bears float south annually and migrate back north in the fall. So if the weather station had 10 ice bears this year instead of 4 last year, I wonder if this is a permanent change or temporary? Later we saw the man who met us at the dock loading his small outboard for a halibut fishing expedition. He said they will leave the bait on the bottom for 4 hours then haul the longline.
*The villagers opened the bear's stomach while they were cleaning it. It's stomach was empty and the bear was starving. That's why it attacked the villagers. Later we learned that among Inuit society, if a man shoots an ice bear he is given special status among his peers of fellow hunters.
Mary and Dick retreated to the boat to escape the bugs but I headed uphill to get a few snaps of the village. Once out of the village the breeze picked up and the bugs were gone. Later a few locals stopped by to practice their English. One young family with a 3 year old named pilotaq (phonetic spelling - sounds like pil o tack). He said he just shot a 3m - 9 ½' tall ice bear and it tastes Real Good. He may have been the one who shot the attacking bear. Mary gave three local kids bracelets with American flags around the band. One young girl was hustled away by her grandma (as it seemed) to keep her away from us. Later at around 1700, the locals headed out to fish or hunt. One left a little while ago with two rifles. One will be a small caliber for seals and a large caliber for ice bears.
Now let's talk about the Big Picture. I gushed about Greenland last year so I suppose you are used to it but let's give it another go and make some serious statements. Greenland per nautical mile is the best cruising in Egret's travels. Greenland deserves more than we have and will give it - last year and this. It is any adjective you may attach to cruising. How often do you get to photograph the remnants of a tabular iceberg with a glacier in the background? There is a reason Egret is the first of perhaps 6 cruising boats this year to visit Augpilagtoq. First of all it is super remote. Remote isn't the biggest deal. The problem with cruising Greenland is the commitment. It is a long way from anywhere to get here. The cruising season is super short. Mixed with that are weather considerations. Within a few days ago there were full gales every three days marching thru which isn't enough time for a safe crossing from Labrador or Iceland with a weather safety margin. Next is the lack of any services other than fuel and food in scattered villages. There isn't any support services for any repair other than perhaps welding or small stuff. Language is a problem. Everything is a problem but the country itself. The country is incredible! Greenland doesn't open until mid summer and by August 15 or sooner, you need to be gone. Gone like in retreating to as far south as at least as Nova Scotia or Iceland or Norway via Iceland. So the season is super short with a shorter back end to get somewhere safe. Greenland isn't easy and it isn't TV. Anyhow, we love it.
(Two local kids just stopped by and I gave them our last two chocolate/mint cookies and then a shy young couple stopped by to talk with a few words of English. They wanted to know where we came from and where we were going. I told them and they seemed to understand then left).
A group of teenagers arrived in 2 small outboards with backpacks. I suppose it is part of the inter-village meeting process. We recently read an account from a Norwegian scientist who has been studying in Greenland for years. The bottom line is, with warming in Greenland the local's lives are changing rapidly from their traditional life. During the winter traditionally villagers travel over sea ice by dog sled from village to village. Villagers meet and marry outside their villages. For vocations their primary income for years came from hunting. These days the sea ice is not stable except for a short time during the year so the meeting and greeting is greatly curtailed. Since there is a ban in the EU for sea skins, hunting is now mixed 50% with fishing. The Greenland government is setting up fish processing stations along the coast to help make up the difference in income. So the changes are coming rapidly. Better or worse? Who knows?
(Now a group of under 10 year old village just showed up. So we gave them a batch of what we have left for kids, raisins. There was no hording and lotsa sharing. Later a few more showed up so we gave them another batch and the first kids handed the raisins to the last 3 arrivals and didn't take any for themselves. So that's pretty cool. It says a lot for their culture.
How priceless is this? These kids will probably not have another raisin in their lives. Can you imagine what is like to be here and share? More to follow.
Last night a shouldabeen long ago scrapped 30ish foot wood fishing boat rafted off Egret for the night. For fenders they had an old tire and a half full typical orange ball fender. The 2 fishermen spoke a couple words of English and said they would leave at 0400 and they did.
This morning Egret departed Auqpiloqtoq early in order to arrive in Nanortalik early enough to clear Customs, check on fuel prices, internet if possible, etc. We finished Prince Christian Sound with the usual spectacular scenery, more seals, lotsa more bergs grounded here and there, more brash ice ground off the bottom of the grounded bergs, more everything. Of course we snapped away like everyone does in ice but none of us can help ourselves. Every berg is one of a kind and that particular shape will never be repeated in history. If you remember, last year we laid Egret along the rocks next to a dual waterfall coming from the top of the mountain. We attached a funnel to a garden hose and topped the water tank with crystal clear water. We didn't really need water. We did it just coz. We passed Our waterfall a couple hours before leaving PCS. Of course there are waterfalls the entire distance of PCS so you'll just have to choose Yours.
Egret cleared PCS fifteen minutes ago. Mary, Dick and I were talking about how anyone can possibly describe what we are seeing just now. I'll give it a go while we are still among Big Ice and describe what we see. There is not a cloud in the sky. The sky is light blue reflecting in the water. The sea is slick calm with a slight swell. The time is 1100 local. To stbd are rocks and the lower mountains of the west coast. The mountains have a patina of green patches here and there. To port are rounded offshore rocks and small islands. All thru the gap in between land and offshore islands are grounded icebergs. There is Big Ice everywhere! A half mile back was a giant piece of ice that looked like a forward house Nordhavn. As we went behind the way cool N, it morphed into a catamaran and THEN a huge arch opened large enough to drive Egret thru if the keel would clear the underwater ice bridge in between. Of course only a dim bulb moron would consider something so foolish. The underside of the arch is rotten with gaping cracks running from side to side. We guessed the berg might not last the day as it appears now. When the arch implodes it will be a major happening. By the time we leave Nanortalik we may feel the boom thru the bottom even though we will be 20nm or so away. Days like this make you never want to leave or come back for more. The 30 hour unpleasantness a few days ago is a way distant memory.
Egret is the perfect boat for Greenland exploring. She is the world's best small sea boat so coming and going isn't a chore and it's safe. Once here she is small enough to poke around in rocky spots and lay to small village docks. You could spend years going to and from Greenland and not see it all. A few Europeans do just that under sail. There are two approaches. Coming from Europe, the first is staging in Isafjordur, Iceland for East Greenland. The first port of call is a relatively short hop due west, then the boats work their way south and thru PCS and return back to Europe or head south west to Nova Scotia or the U.S. This is a late, super short season deal but East Greenland is the holy grail of Greenlandic cruising because of its remoteness. The second itinerary is from the west and head north early as far north as Disko Bay on the west coast of Greenland and work your way south as the ice clears. Ice moves down the east Greenland coast, wraps around the bottom and moves a ways north up the west coast before they ground and melt. So the west coast season is much longer and can be begun as early as June instead of mid-to-late July like the East Coast. So anyhow, Greenland is special. It just isn't easy.
After winding around the approach headlands, Dick hand steered Egret around the ice along a track we put in the day before as a general reference. In rare situations like this it is easier to hand steer than rely on the autopilot to calculate set and drift, make the corrective swings in relatively tight areas then within a short time comes the next waypoint. It was a 40nm run to Nanortalik. Egret arrived early afternoon local time. (The west coast of Greenland is GMT-3, Iceland - GMT-1) The new dock is now taken by small local boats, mostly outboards. Like last year there are a couple 24-26' enclosed stern drive boats owned by folks from other villages. Checking in with the Polisi (Police) we learned that the harbor has only been open for ANY boat traffic including freighters and large fishing boats for the past 3 weeks. Prior to that the harbor was choked with Big Ice.
This year the check-in rules are different. Last year we got the passports stamped and we could leave when we wished with no further check out. This year we didn't get stamped in but have to be stamped out the day before we leave. The reason is last year we were heading to another Schengen country (Iceland) and this year to Canada. The two Danish police officers have recently arrived on a 5 month tour from Denmark. Being new we gave them a shot and told them last year the Polisi paid Big Money to take Kiwi Dick out of the country. So the Police lady asked how much and I told her A Lot. So then we talked about how much A Lot would be and they finally said they are poor and can't pay to even have a Kiwi removed. Bummer.
We gave internet a try at the Tourist Center using both Internet Explorer and Firefox but both had pop-ups after signing in asking for more information. We got hacked last year and they are getting nothing from us. We'll give it another go tomorrow with our computer on wifi and if we get the same pop-ups, there will be no VofE photos until somewhere in Canada. Text VofE's will continue via the Iridium phone.
It appears there is a big northerly passing south between Greenland and Labrador on Thursday and Friday and a second front pushing from the south next Wednesday so we'll keep checking on weather. We will leave when it is calm and It Will Be Calm. Sorta like last year's dream trip. In the meantime we'll just hang here and see what's whipping.
We'll leave you with a couple images of Nanortalik. The first is a scene on a back bay. In the second photograph you can see it isn't always easy to get off the boat, particularly on a commercial dock at low tide. Check out MS walking the rail. Can you guess why Egret doesn't have silly girl varnish on the teak?
While at sea and short shore side stops, the VofE's will be coming quickly and at times, on top of each other. If you haven't signed up to receive VofE as soon as they are posted there is a box to fill in on the VofE home page to receive yours quickly and not miss a posting. There is no obligation.
July 25, 2014
Position: 60 08.41N 45 14.26W Nanortalik, Greenland
Hello mis amigos, this is a VofE photo special which puts a few photographs to words we wrote in the at-sea postings. Following on the heels of this posting will be another traditional posting with more photographs. Internet is difficult here in Nanortalik but we managed to find a way around the phising expeditions by using wifi.
The first image is the last we took leaving Iceland. We visited this remote farming valley last year by rental car. The farm houses give scale to the surrounding mountains and the depth of the valley.
This photo was taken thru the pilothouse glass at 2200 in the evening. Had we turned more to stbd (west) the sun would have been shining thru the clouds. This was the CALM part of the trip.
In case you wonder what it is like to be Out, the little red boat is Egret. The distance to Scotland in the bottom right gives a bit of perspective. Each lat/long block on the chart is 65nm x 150nm.
East Greenland iceberg at sea. This particular berg was hospital size. What you see is 1/9th of the ice. The good thing is offshore bergs like this in deep water aren’t trailing bergy bits. Small ice the size of a washing machine or half car size are the Bad Ones, particularly in choppy or rough water. Later we chose to pass on the down-current side of a grounded berg closer to shore shedding large amounts of berg barf. BIG MISTAKE! Lotsa spinning the wheel.
This berg was closer to shore and it came with it’s own hull opener.
Closing the East Greenland coast we came across this way cool N68. Check out the mountains in the background. A minute later it was hidden by fog.
C-MAP charting of the final approach to Prince Christian Sound with the weather station as the final destination. You can see Egret has landed at the dock.
Egret approaching the weather station dock. There are two sets of range markers to guide boats to the dock. The entrance fairway is quite narrow with underwater rocks on both sides along the approach. Wooden stairs in the distance lead to the station on top of the hill.
Once tied to the dock a polar bear watchdog showed up with his rock. This time the dogs were friendly and we made buddies throwing rocks for a few of them. Last year the dogs kept their distance. Polar bears were a nuisance this year. Last year there were 4 bears all spring and this year there has been 10 so far. Scary stuff. The workers carry rifles during their outdoor rounds. We didn’t walk up to the station like last year.
There were two contract workers leaving by helicopter the day after arrival. The Swiss, Air Greenland pilot has been flying choppers in Greenland for the past 20 years. He is on a month-on, month-off schedule.
Dick and Mary having cocktails with glacier ice. Not common Alaskan glacier ice. Borrrring. Only in Greenland can you glacier ice with this much flavor. Ho hum.
Every long distance boater has to carry spares to get them thru any possible situation. Like Egret. So Egret carries spare glacier ice like a good cruiser should. Eh?
So there you have it. A few snaps from the trip across from Iceland to Greenland.
The next posting will have text and photographs from Greenland’s Prince Christian Sound and the west coast.
Friday, July 21, 2014
Position: 60 03.41N 43 10.26W Weather Station, east entrance to Prince Christian Sound, Greenland
Distance From Ft Lauderdale: 2547.5nm
Hello mis amigos, since yesterday’s posting the seas increased as forecast to 1.6m with 8 second spacing. Of course I didn’t exactly get the angle right and hoped they would be on the stern and in fact they are on the stern quarter. This is the worst sea for any boat so we be doin’ the corkscrew. It isn’t bad, particularly after I turned the Naiad Roll Angle knob one click beyond the Roll Rate knob – R knob 1 click more than the L knob. Mary had to dig out the Coffeecarryometer and get it set up. Right now it is reading 3.9 on the 1-10 scale. Last night the twilight was extended a little more and it was about as dark as you would want to navigate around something close. We have heavy overcast which increases the darkness as well. This evening it will probably be dark for the first time unless the skies are clear. The wind has been puffing up to 18 knots and now it is a more reasonable 12 knots. It is 59 degrees in the pilothouse with 61% humidity. A little while ago, Mary announced we had 200nm to go to the turning waypoint into PCS. So sometime tomorrow late afternoon we’ll make the turn. It is now 0945 on Saturday.
Early yesterday evening we discovered the fluid level in the Naiad cooling tower was down a bit. Sitting static there has been a slight Naiad tower leak since delivery. However, this is the first time we had a fluid level change when under way. So the first place we looked, there it was. The port stabilizer actuator (piston) had a seal leak. The stabilizer assembly is under the master berth so access is very good. We picked up the soaked bilge diapers and replaced them with fresh. The cooling tower was down about 1 pint so we refilled the tower to the top level. During the past 14 hours the level has dropped slightly so it appears there was a piece of something that spilled fluid then got flushed out. We have over 2 gallons of hydraulic fluid in reserve so unless there is a highly unlikely catastrophic seal failure, its no biggie and we’ll deal with it in Maine. If it does fail, we’ll simply pin the fin, pull the electrical plug and run at 70% stabilization on one fin. One really great thing about Egret is virtually every compartment drains into the bilge and no fluids are trapped anywhere. While we are at sea before Maine, we’ll flush the compartment with pure hot water and Simple Green and everything will drain into the bilge where we can sop it up with bilge diapers*. It will most likely take a couple flushes but it’s no biggie.
*Here’s a little tip to keep your bilge clean and oil free. You know we’re squeakers so instead of buying purpose made bilge rolls, we simply roll a bilge diaper tight, tie it tight with a piece of 1/8” nylon and drop it into the bilge with the remainder of the cord tied within easy reach. When its time for a diaper change just pull the dirty diaper out of the bilge, put it into a plastic grocery bag, retie another bilge diaper and drop it into the bilge. Easy and the bilge stays clean.
While we’re on little tips (techno), here’s another. (Can you tell we’re at sea with nothing but water in sight, I’m on watch and need to do something productive instead of daydreaming)? We mentioned in our pre-departure list to bleed the steering. Here’s the deal. Most steering tubing, in Egret’s case it is copper tubing, runs from the steering controls, thru the engine room to the steering ram in the lazarette. So there are big swings in temperature as the fluid moves here and there. Expansion and contraction, etc. After time there is a slight bit of air built up in the system that needs to be bled out.
Here’s the easy way and it’s best to use two people. If you have a well engineered steering system there will be a by-pass valve near the steering ram in the lazarette. Always begin at the uppermost steering station. Turn on the autopilot and hit standby (manual steering). Have the second person (Mary) open the by-pass valve. Hit the port turning button on the autopilot and hold it down for 45 seconds, then hit the stbd button for 45 seconds, port for 30 seconds, stbd for 30 seconds. Close the by-pass valve. Repeat on the lower station. Done, and if you have never done it, wait and see how much straighter your boat will steer.
So now its time to ramble a bit and tell a story but we will return to bleeding the steering. Long, long ago during the dirt age we had a giant lawn mower with a mowing deck in front and a single wheel in back. I mowed the lawn because I was too squeak to pay someone. It was the last thing I did before we blasted off to the Florida Keys on the weekends. Every second was precious. How could I do it faster? I spotted a steering knob in an auto parts store. It was a large wood knob with a steel pin and clamp. Clamped at 2:00 on the mower steering wheel, I could now mow faster and eventually got an acre down to 45 minutes. We kept a flats boat in the Keys. Next, another wood knob got attached to the steering wheel of the flats boat. However, having a steel pin and clamp, the pin would rust so there would be a gap between the pin and the knob and I would get pinched. Bummer.
So after a couple years of pinch city then a new flats boat of our manufacture, I came across a la di da aluminum alloy steering wheel in an Edison Marine catalog complete with a machined knob. So I ordered one and moved it from boat to boat for years including the CIB, Catamaran Icebreaker Dinghy aboard Egret until a couple years ago.
Egret’s winter of 2005/6 was spent in Marmarus, Turkey. There we ran across a great stainless fabricator who did fantastic work at reasonable prices. So I was looking for ideas to adorn our precious with polished stainless goodies. One item was the steering wheels. Emin machined beatius knobs from 316L stainless stock and welded one to the flybridge wheel. For the pilothouse wheel we did something very special. We cut the spokes and added an inner ring then welded a knob to that. So is that cool or what? Of course today I couldn’t imagine in my wildest dreams having a ho hum lemming-like ordinary boring standard steering wheel without the spinner knobs and extra ring. Life would hardly be the same, eh? In any case, early on I used to spin the flybridge wheel 50 times in each direction to bleed the steering, then 30 times. Then the same for the pilothouse. Tired city. Like I coulda had a stroke or something. But today we just push a button and watch the timer. So now you know.
Looking out the pilothouse window just a minute ago a little hatch tip came to mind. Mary and I lived aboard in South Florida 6 months prior to retirement and prior to that, Egret went thru commissioning and delivery in South Florida. So what we’re saying is she spent some time in the hot Florida sun and during that time the hatch plastic was in the infant stages of sun crazing. So we had sumbrella covers made and they have been on since. The hatches look like new. Later while wintering in Spain, we realized we were loosing heat thru the 3 forward hatches. The foredeck is 1 ½ end grain balsa with around 3/8” of glass on top and 5/16ths’ on the underside plus the headliner and the air space between the headliner and the laminate. So the fiberglass part of the foredeck is very well insulated but the hatch plastic is not. We went to a giant hardware store in downtown Barcelona and bought a sheet of 3/8” – 15mm close cell foam. Back aboard we cut a piece to go under the sumbrella cover and later added a second piece cut slightly smaller than the first for wintering in Argentina. Since then the two pieces of foam per hatch have never been removed even though we have been thru 2 sets of covers.
OK, back at sea. The last 30 hours of the trip were BAD! This isn’t a whinefest but reporting the facts. The departure forecast showed a mild front pushing down the upper east coast of Greenland toward Cape Farvel (Farwell) at the southern tip. We felt we would be comfortably ahead of the front so we left Isafjordur. While at sea we got weather a second time and the first front had diminished to a very mild front with winds less than 20 knots and seas no more than 1.6m – 5’. This was true for a day or so. After, the seas continued to build ultimately into monsters with winds gusting to 40 knots. I wouldn’t call it a gale but a near gale because the sustained winds were a little less than 35 knots. The issue really wasn’t the wave size or wind, it was the wave direction. The wind was from the north. Egret’s course was SW. However, there was 24 plus degrees of set and drift which rotated the stbd stern quarter directly in the path of the waves. Not all the waves were giants. However sets of 3 giant waves roared thru every 2 minutes or less. So here’s what happens in this situation. The first wave rotates the stern up to 40 degrees off course. While in the trough and climbing the first of the second wave, the autopilot rushes to the rescue and turns the boat so the stern faces the next wave. So that’s good, then the 3d wave which is usually a little smaller rotates the stern somewhat less than the big first wave. The autopilot corrects, a number of smaller waves pass then the next big set of 3.
Twice I nearly turned around to face the seas and hold station until the front passed. There were a couple reasons I didn’t. First, we didn’t have ice information on the fjords to the west where we could run and hide. The fjords were less than a half day away at this point. Second, the giant front we mentioned in the last VofE had pushed up to close to Cape Farvel and we didn’t want to get caught between the northern front and the monster to the south.
Two things we did made a big difference in the ride. We increased the RPM from 1550 to 1700. The increased speed made the hull run straighter and just as important, gave us more prop wash across the rudder so it would respond to the autopilot sooner. Another big help was dialing Back the Naiad’s to very little fin action, in fact just above center. This kept the fins from steering the boat with the waves passing under the bottom at how ever many knots they are running. (I can’t accurately estimated the speed of the waves but they pass Very Quickly)
If there was a bright spot in all this mess, the average speed for the trip increased to 6.7 knots and the last 30 hours she consistently ran between 7.5 and 8.8 knots. During times of continuous big gusts she ran as fast as 9.6 knots. The trip took 99 hours instead of our estimated 109 hours.
So anyhow, we put up with the 3 stages of twisting for hours. For one of the few times ever, Mary didn’t fix a big dinner. Just making a spot of tea was tedious and had to be done carefully.
In time the miles were winding down and ice began appearing on radar 9nm to the west. Eventually at 20nm from the entrance turning mark we resorted to hand steering thru the ice. We never had less than two on watch at the same time and at times all 3 were on watch spotting ice. It isn’t the big pieces like car or truck size, it is the sneaky ones, particularly the nearly clear sneaky ones the size of a dining room table or smaller like a washing machine. Hit one of those puppies at 7.5 knots and it wouldn’t be much fun.
There are two range marks at the entrance to the weather station. It is Very Important to follow the rules here to keep out of the rocks. I steered from the flybridge and even though it was high tide, the rocks were easy to see in the super clear water. The dock was ice free with just a couple relatively small bergs grounded in the shoreside rocks and one giant building size berg grounded off the entrance. It took no time at all to get tied up with two giant fenders against the tires strung along the dock. Within minutes after the lines were secure and we were back inside, Mary had fixed 3 rummies (rum n’ cokes). Not have eaten much for the past 24 hours the splash of spirits had us giggly quickly. Mary fixed a giant dinner and as soon as the dishes were done it was crash city.
During the early morning I heard bumping and knew what it was. Yup, ice. Egret was surrounded by ice ground off the bottom of the berg just out in the channel. The largest pieces were smaller than a car and they were moving slowly with the tide. There were no waves so the ice was harmless. I went back to bed. This morning when we got up the ice was mostly gone with the tide. So that’s good. Something else that is good, Dick rounded up ice to keep Egret in glacial ice for weeks. The freezer is full of small pieces and there are two large chunks on standby in the cockpit. I can’t even imagine a drink without glacial ice. Can you? It is soooo common to resort to cube ice. Ho hum.
Currently the gen is running charging the batteries, heating water for showers and making lotsa RO (reverse osmosis) water. We did away with the electronic watermaker garbage and have a complete manual system where we have to turn a knob to dial in the water pressure from the high pressure pump and turn another valve to flush the system. It isn’t rocket science you know. Electronic stuff breaks and manual things don’t. Anyhow, there is very low salinity in high latitudes so we dial in just 700lbs pressure instead of the usual 750 lbs. If you use too much pressure in very low salinity it can blow up the membranes. Auto systems typically run at 800lbs. Something to think about when its Your Time.
The first leg of Egret’s return to the U.S. is history. After putzing today, tomorrow we’ll leave the weather station and head up PCS to the tiny Inuit village within the sound, about 10nm from here. More to follow.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Position: 63 26.48N 33 14.64W Roughly half way from Isafjordur to the turning waypoint off Prince Christian Sound, Greenland
Seas: 1m, well spaced.
Sea Direction: N
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Wind Direction: NW
Speed: 7.2 knots
Average Speed: 6.6 knots
Distance Traveled: 320.7nm
Distance To Go: 366.1nm
Distance From Ft Lauderdale: 2895.4nm*
*When Egret departed Ft Lauderdale for Bermuda, May 16th, 2004 on the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally, I pushed the Waypoint Instant Save on the GPS as Egret cleared the entrance channel. It has been saved as Waypoint #1 ever since and it has never been erased. I believe it was somewhere in Tasmania when Egret was at her farthest point possible frp, FLL during her travels. So we keep the FLL waypoint as a sentimental reference.
Saving your departure waypoint is something to think about when it's Your Time. You may think you know where you will go during your boating years, but you never know. Who would have thought back then Egret would be running a SW course 400nm ABOVE the SE tip of Greenland returning to the U.S.? In an E/W perspective the longitude is east of the Azores. Can you imagine?
Hello mis amigos, Egret is at sea once again. It's about time, isn't it? This morning we said our goodbye's to the dockmaster Muggi and he called Customs. Customs came an hour later and gave us a 5 minute checkout and we were legal to leave when we wished. Mary and Dick were off doing last minute shopping and I was finishing the last little details. So at 1145 local, Egret left the dock in Isafjordur for the last time. The past two weeks were a whirlwind of cleaning and tending to lists. Now at sea we can finally relax.
The overall trip is 682.8nm from the dock in Isafjordur to the dock at the weather station just inside Prince Christian Sound. At an average speed of 6.5 knots the trip will take 105 hours or 4 days and 9 hours.
Here's the departure forecast as we see it. It will be relatively calm seas all the way with no seas over 2m - 6'+ and wave spacing no closer than 8 seconds. However, there is a storm from the NE sliding down the upper East Greenland coast that should be somewhat behind Egret as she enters PCS. Obviously we'll monitor it closely and do what we have to do not to get caught out if it intensifies. It is predicted to be a relatively mild blow so if we can't tuck in and do get caught out it shouldn't be that bad, plus it is behind us. In any case we'll have more on that later. There is a giant system around 150nm below Greenland that will move east toward the British Isles that won't affect this trip. I hope there are no fellow voyagers that get caught by that monster.
If Egret reaches her estimated average speed of 6.5 knots it means she will be entering PCS around 1930 in the early evening and she will be at the dock by 2100. It is light to around 2230 so it is pretty close time wise. The weather station has lights on the dock, plus we have been there before and know where the entrance channel obstacles lay waiting. Waiting to gnaw on your bottom and send you down to the Dark Place. Arrrrrg. So it shouldn't be any biggie unless the dock channel is iced in but we'll cross that bridge on arrival.
Another reason to depart Isafjordur when we did (noon) is to approach the Greenland coast with as much light as possible to avoid ice.
As we get farther south there will be a few hours at night when it is dark so with a long daylight approach run and arrival angle of 45 degrees or so, ice shouldn't be an issue. Last year we saw our last bergs around 15nm offshore but every year is different. We don't take chances. Ever.
Departing Isafjordur the seas were flat calm but later after rounding a few Westfjord headlands we had local winds to 26 knots on the nose and seas no more than 2' with no spray on the glass. Currently the tips of the Westfjords are still in sight, she is making 7.2 knots at 1550 RPM with an average speed of 5.6 knots because of opposing currents around the headlands. Of course the 5.6 knot figure will be ramping up soon.
In retrospect it would have been better to lay off the headlands a bit more to clear the longline buoys as well as get more out of the current and local winds. On the way to Isafjordur from Reykjavik we had steering issues with areas of heavy iron on the bottom. (Magnetic Anomalies marked on the chart) Currently we are steering a dog-leg course thru two large magnetic anomaly areas on the chart. Once beyond those the next waypoint will be off the entrance to PCS.
There were gulls and shore birds along the fjord when we left and now at sea they have been replaced by fulmars - a small sea bird - and diving birds that look much like penguins floating in the water and our local favorite, round little puffins. In fact just now there is a string of a dozen or so puffins flying just over the wave tops off the port side. The seas are 1m or less and 8 knots of wind. All is well.
Thursday, 1440 local. Incidentally, we will be giving time in GMT-1, Icelandic time, even though we will change time zones on the Greenland leg of the trip. Once in Greenland we will switch to local Greenland time and so on to Maine. The seas yesterday were up to 1.5m - 5', with reasonable spacing. The wind did not exceed 15 knots except during the early miles passing the Westfjord headlands. Early in the morning the seas laid down to less than 1m and the wind went to less than 8 knots. Now the wind has moved back to 20 degrees off the port bow from the same off the stbd bow and has increased a bit to less than 10 knots. It was light all night, in fact at 2200 I put on sunglasses because the sun was shining bright thru the low clouds for a short time. A couple fishing boats returning to port showed up on AIS and one even changed direction to see what the radar return was all about. Dick didn't feel well last night so Mary and I stood watch most of the night. It was super easy because it never got dark. Dick is back to his usual self today. We began the trip on the stbd tank that was full to the top and switched to the port tank today at noon - 24 hours later. Now we are moving along at 7.1 knots and the average speed has climbed to 6.4 knots from a miserable 5.6 knots. The sea has always been a give and take deal. It also appears the mild storm that was predicted to slid down the East Greenland shore has dissipated into a much lesser front with winds not exceeding 20 knots and seas less than 1.6m. so that's good. In fact, with the wind and waves behind us beginning tomorrow, the average speed should climb higher. So that's the news for the first full day at sea. And now we are visited by dolphins. Even up here. Amazing! More to follow.
Friday morning 1000. It was calm all night into mid-morning. From 0100 this morning until 0230 it was sorta twilight - not dark but not bright and sunny like the night before. I imagine this evening there will be less light and perhaps a short time of darkness. Mary spotted our first whales yesterday afternoon, a pair of small minke whales and last evening I spotted a pod of 5 or 6. The Egret crew is fully into their watch routine and life is good. Mary has been cranking out great meals, pancakes from scratch this morning with maple syrup from Cape Breton Island and fresh ground Starbucks French Roast. There is just enough motion to know you aren't an Intracoastal Weenie, it is 65 degrees F/18C in the pilothouse, humidity is 60%, it is overcast, sea birds are everywhere and our little white fiberglass ship is currently trucking along at 7.2 knots at 1550 RPM with a high of 7.6 knots. Egret has been 7 knots plus since late last night with the average speed rising to 6.6 knots. I imagine as we close Greenland we'll have that front pushing her along plus a little boost from the south flowing East Greenland Current. Fortunately we have a way big safety margin built in for arrival times so no matter what happens, it's no biggie.
To Dick's friends on the far side of the world; Graham, Margie & Barquita, Pete the Pilot, Mandy, Jan, Duncan & Tracy, Dez & Dez and the rest, G'Day Mates. You know Mary is spoiling Dick once again.
So this wraps up the first posting from sea. Hopefully it will be posted today (Friday) and we'll have the next on Monday. Unfortunately we can't send photos. I snapped a great photo of the navigation monitor screen with Egret near half way between Iceland and Greenland. We'll send it when we get internet again, hopefully in Nanortalik next week and show what its like to be Out.
July 16, 2014
Position: Written in Isafjordur, Iceland.
Hello mis amigos, the cruiser’s world is not always cocktails in the flybridge, impromptu beach gatherings or simply seeing the sights. Cruising has always been about the people. We make friends quickly then off they or we go. That’s the hard part. However, it may be years but occasionally we meet once again and it’s like we never left. When we meet we never talk about waves or any hardships, we ask about people they and we met.
Yesterday, the Austrian sloop Magellan left for East Greenland. From left to right – Claudia, Fritz, crewman Lou and Jon, a local sailor. Egret arrived in Isafjordur last year about the same time as Magellan. Fritz and Claudia have some miles but not tons, however they have a fair amount of high latitude miles so they’ll have a great time exploring and experiencing Big Ice for the first time. It will be a Very Exciting and challenging trip. (Fritz has been a sail instructor for years back home so don’t think they sailed around a bit then headed for high latitudes. They have the experience.)
Magellan planned to do the NW Passage this year but last winter was a bad ice year so they, like the rest of us from time to time, have to improvise. So this year it will be as much of the East Coast of Greenland as ice will allow, a pass thru Prince Christian Sound, then a bit of west coast Greenland cruising then they will beat feet for Labrador, the west coast of Newfoundland and will winter in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. They hope to do the Passage next year, however it appears it will also be a bad ice year so they in turn will have to do something else. Perhaps they will return to farther up the west coast of Greenland because even though it is quite a bit farther north, ice clears much earlier. Ice moves down the East Coast, around Cape Farwell and up the bottom part of the west coast. The boats that head north earlier, perhaps as early as mid April, slowly work their way south until it’s time to head for somewhere safe for the winter.
It would be great if we could meet once again this year but unless ice drives them away, Egret will be ahead of them. There is an OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) cruise mid-August in SW Harbor, Maine we would like to attend.
Egret’s lists are nearly complete. We are down to the busy work small stuff like cleaning fenders and putting them away except for the two giant Aere inflatable fenders doing the heavy lifting. Mary finished her stainless today and it looks brandy new. Off went the outside window coverings and they got washed. The anchor locker is neat, clean and the windlass has its oil topped up and as it turns out, I greased the windlass last year before we left so that be done. The big dinghy’s 15hp Yamadog 2 stroke started on the first pull. The dink is now super clean and ready to go. Anyhow, all the list items we mentioned last time are done including getting ocens* e-mail up to speed as well as Iridium weather.
OK, time to put ocens under the bus after years of supporting their service. We had the latest ocens upgrades installed on two laptops last year before leaving Florida. This was done over the course of a couple days by a satellite communications company in Ft Lauderdale at great expense. This was just the physical loading of the program onto the laptops and getting them working with Our Iridium Phone. The service was already paid for. So anyhow, we have an internet stick here in Iceland and I wanted to load ocens e-mail and the weather program onto a new Mac so we would have internet access to ocens weather prior to leaving instead of costly Iridium weather. Do you know those dirtbags wanted an additional $99 for the privilege of downloading something we have paid for and used for years? ^%#@#%&&
Later. The fenders are clean but the soft fender covers are history. They soaked up the fat and petroleum scum floating in the harbor so the bottoms of the fender covers are completely saturated. It wouldn’t be nice to wash them in a commercial laundry so they are in the trash heap. However, they did their job and the hull was protected from chafe.
Mary is still fine tuning the stainless. It looks new.
We had a wing return line fuel leak that send a bit of diesel into the bilge. We turned off the bilge pumps and emptied a half-gallon of dish soap in to the bilge along with a healthy slug of simple green and let it sit all night to completely emulsify the diesel. This morning we turned the bilge pump back on and flooded the surface with soap bubbles but there wasn’t any trace of diesel, so that’s good. Now the bilge has another slug of dish soap and simple green just to make sure it is spotless. Later we’ll put a pail of pure hot water mixed with simple green into the bilge and flush it again.
Here’s another lesson learned. We have spare fuel hose for virtually every item aboard EXCEPT for 10mm/5-16ths. So this means we have ¼”, 3/8”, and ½”. So now we have spare 10mm/5/16” plus a brandy new hose installed. The old hose was a braided outer shell type. Luckily we are in a town with services so getting a piece of 10mm hose was easy. Had we been Out with no spare hose, it would have been a mouse job repair in order to keep the wing operative. However, Egret has a day tank with a fuel valve for each function so we could have shut off the wing fuel and not interrupted the main or gen if the repair continued to leak.
Isafjordur’s harbor is beginning to fill. The Austrian steel sloop Magellan, a Polish steel sloop and a French fiberglass sloop departed trying to beat the latest NNE’er to Greenland. Yesterday a large British sloop, Endeavour laid along the commercial wall toward town, followed by a large French sloop, a slightly smaller French sloop and later by another large French sloop. Two of the French sloops are known high-latitude types and the other is a boat more suited to Med cruising but here they are.
Endeavour is an interesting story. She is a steel, late 80’s around the world racer owned by the British military. She is one of two of the same vintage with the same task. In this case there is a lady skipper and I assume one professional crew. The balance of the large crew is active duty British military from the Army and Air Force. According to one crew member, they apply for 2 week stints wherever the boat happens to be. This crew drew Iceland, Greenland and perhaps back. Many of the crew are wearing seasickness patches so I imagine they are getting a real education in heavy duty cruising. I assume the program is to enhance teamwork where everyone depends on each other, similar to the battlefield.
Currently the seas offshore are 4.8m – 15’+ at less than 8 seconds. Any time the seas are more than a foot per second of duration, the coffeecarryometer* comes into play. Nearly double the acceptable wave height-duration would not be much fun and why it appears the new arrivals are hanging out in Isafjordur. So now you know.
Later. We learned Endeavour took the smart way out and gave up their Greenland trip. Even if they had slugged their way thru the weather and ice they would still have to return to offload the crew and re-crew with the next group. Who knows what the weather would have been on the return. Schedules don’t work in high latitudes.
*If you are new to VofE, you’ll have to go to Egretisims at the bottom of this posting and look up coffeecarryometer.
Incidentally, I posted the link we use for satellite images of Greenland below. On the left side of the home page is a series of blocks surrounding Greenland. The block that is important for us is the bottom center that shows Nanortalik when it is highlighted. This is a satellite photograph of the southern tip of Greenland including Prince Christian Sound, a glacier dug channel across the southern tip of Greenland, and the area on the SW coast including the Inuit village of Nanortalik. Nanortalik is where Egret will clear Customs into and out of Greenland. The deep fjord above the eastern entrance to PCS is Lindenow Fjord (Kuugarmiut – Kangerlussatsaiq) where Egret departed for Iceland last year.
With the chores done, Mary and took a final waking tour around town and snapped a few pictures. Because we are limited in photographs on VofE we’ll show just two. Pictured are Maik and his son Felix – hard at work helping dad. Pictured behind Maik is the British sloop Endeavour and two of the French sloops. Maik took the worry about leaving Egret in Isafjordur over the winter. It was the worst winter in 25 years with lotsa snow and winter storms with high winds. Maik was aboard Egret every couple days and during the worst of the worst he, and sometimes he and Felix spent the night aboard with minimal heat, no lights and no running water. Egret suffered zero damage other than a frozen mixer valve in the forward shower and that was my fault for only putting antifreeze into the cold water side.
You know, Isafjordur is such a great town full of super nice people it deserves more attention. I’ll forward a few Isafjordur snaps to Jenny Stern at PAE Rhode Island to include with the coming, at-sea text.
Incidentally if you don’t know, Jenny and web guru Doug Harlow at PAE in Dana Point, Calif are the two responsible for getting this drivel on the net and have been since day one. Without both of them there would be no VofE and without VofE you may feel your happy ordinary self but now you know there is more Out There so now what and now you know deep down if you don’t do something happy ordinary isn’t enough to live without wondering so I suppose its up to you cuz Jenny and Doug will still be doing their deal and we’ll keep pounding out the miles so others like you may learn and hopefully become less normal and really enjoy yourselves living a life of freedom and adventure at sea and when the final mile comes you will know what you did not someone else.
In addition to a final walk around town, yesterday and today we did a final drive around in a little 900cc rat car rental. Yesterday we headed south and took every finger out to the end of fjords there were including one we hadn’t been on before. It was pretty wild. First the road went to 1 lane, then to gravel and then to bumpy gravel. However in our expedition rat car we braved all and drove very carefully not do drag the front spoiler or bottom out the underneath. We ran into a group of modified 4wd manly cars who probably freaked when a 900cc rat rental showed up on their turf. In any case, they told us about a farm at the end of the road with a lady who has been a celebrity on TV a few times because she lives on the most remote farm in the most remote valley in Iceland. So of course we had to go to the end of the road to see what was whipping.
So up the mountain we went, sometimes in first gear to keep moving forward. Up we went thru the fog, clouds, rain and standing snow and then down into a valley and back up and back down again. Early on we came across a family of white swans with their kids. Mary got out and gave chase and snapped away as they were climbing a hill. The drive was a 45 minute deal that would have taken 30 minutes in Gracie. So at the end of the road we came across this church on the farm property that was built in 1926.
First we drove down to the beach that looks out into the ocean and to the north, the entrance to a fjord. The surf was rolling in bringing lotsa seaweed. The beach was full of small wading birds. This particular bird was freaking and streaking when MS surprised it along the beach. Later we drove up to Elisabet Petursdottir’s (Beti’s) house. Beti was outside with two of the 4 wheelers we met earlier and her wonder dog, Rosie.
Here’s Beti’s deal. She lives alone on property that goes back to her great-grandfather. The other few houses in the valley are former farms that today are summer cottages. So she is alone with Rosie and 200 sheep from October, or the first snow that blocks the road, until April or May when a bulldozer can get thru.
Beti shears her own sheep and grows their winter feed. She said if the seaweed is driven ashore that year, the sheep will eat seaweed which is full of minerals and halves her hay usage. So if it is a seaweed year, Beti has a surplus she can use the coming winter.
During the winter, Beti works on her crafts in her beach-facing glass room in the mornings then tends to the sheep until she is done. Beti knits Icelandic sweaters, makes some jewelry and lately she is making unique silver jewelry from soft coral. She gathers the coral from the beach, dries it then adds 16-20 coats of silver. When that is done she fires it and it incinerates the coral that leaves just the silver. Each piece is unique to itself and can never be duplicated. So that’s pretty cool. Mary bought a sweater and its not just A Sweater, it is Beti’s sweater.
Beti has a website if any of you are interested in having something made that can’t be bought anywhere else on earth. www.druckmaus.com
Along those lines, I e-mailed a couple friends and asked if they wanted us to bring back Icelandic sweaters. To make a long story short, we bought one for his wife from a shop here in Isafjordur that was unique. However, the lady in the shop didn’t have an extra large for my buddy. Of course we could only deal with her because we know her husband who keeps a small day-sailor on the dock and we yachties have to stick together. Anyhow, she called The Person in town who actually made the sweater, told her the color and design we wanted. It will be ready within a week and shipped to Florida. So how cool is that? A real person that makes something at home and someone you feel a kinship dealing with.
So here’s the deal. If you want a world famous Icelandic sweater from Beti or this lady (email@example.com) , send an e-mail and they can send photos and off you go. In fact, if you are quick, like real quick, you can see a photograph of the actual sweater we chose for our buddy’s wife.
So back to driving. You never know what you will come across driving along the shores of the fjords. This fish drying rack was different than the ones filled with cod. This one was full of fish heads that we understand are sold to Nigeria for soup stock. Check out the gruesome scarecrows made of ravens that dared stop by for a snack.
Of course we can’t show pictures of the interior without one of the famous Icelandic horses. Icelandic horses are unique for their 5 gate. A horse person last year said riding an Icelandic horse is like riding a limousine because one hoof is always on the ground. These two were playing. There are around 150,000 Icelandic horses on the island and half of those run wild.
Farms dot the edges of the fjords. The Westfjords are a series of mountainous fingers that stick into the sea. The center of the fingers are tall mountains you have seen in a number of VofE postings. The only relatively flat areas and along the fjords and in a few mountain valleys. The larger farms have a few homes and sometimes a church. Some wealthy farmers built churches on their property over the years and they preach on Sundays. This is a typical larger valley farm.
OK, so the rental is returned, Dick* is sawing a forest of logs and I’m looking out the pilothouse windows at the midnight sun. I don’t believe I’ve mentioned it but it’s light 24 hours a day and it has been since we arrived. This snap was taken early this morning at 12:40AM.
*Dick arrived this morning around 0900. He had a 52 total hour flight from New Zealand, not including a 6 hour drive to the airport in Christchurch. So he was a bit tired and his tears were long since shed so they didn't rot our wellies and anyhow we didn’t care because we took him to his favorite place for breakfast. It’s a 45 minute drive along the fjords to an early farmhouse turned into a way isolated breakfast stop serving coffee and Icelandic waffles. The folks inside are all relatives of the original farmers. The waffles are light as feathers and are served with two kinds of home made jams (today it was rhubarb and blueberry) and real cream to go on top. Dick did good for the outing but when we arrived back at Egret he faded pretty quickly……and who wouldn’t?
Now for the news. It appears by the time you read this, Egret will be under way for Greenland. The trip will take a little over 4 days. We checked weather when we returned this afternoon and it appears there is a window to make the trip in relatively calm seas of less than well-spaced, 2m (6’), and not much wind. There is a front passing offshore now that will be gone in the morning (Wed). There are two large fronts turning east below Greenland but they shouldn’t affect the trip. Anyhow, we’ll check weather again in the morning AND if Customs will let us leave without a full day’s notice, we be gone.
The next couple VofE's will be text only from sea. It's about time, eh?
July 9, 2014
Position: 66 04-20N 23 07-49W, Isafjordur, Iceland
Hello mis amigos, let’s pass something along that could have been a problem on this flight. Currently we’re at 35,000 feet rocketing along in a jet plane toward Boston. We’re on Jet Blue airline for the first time.
If you remember we have a new harmonic balancer for the Happy Little Lugger in luggage. It weighs 24 lbs so the bag is bottom heavy and end heavy when it is lifted. So the ticket guy freaks and asks what’s in the bag and I told him a harmonic balancer, just to pull his chain a little. Of course he doesn’t know what a harmonic balancer is so I told him it was a part for a boat engine and he really freaked. Jet Blue is a non-hazardous carrier airline. This includes anything with the slightest bit of oil, even machine oil from manufacturing he informed me. I took the balancer out of the box, showed it to him and he let it pass. However, it still has to go thru the TSA folks so we’ll see how that turned out on arrival in Iceland. Now let’s say for example we were carrying a generator raw water pump we desperately needed in Iceland or wherever. The pump has a tiny bit of lubricant from the factory to lubricate the impeller*. Can you imagine loosing something so critical at the gate when your flight is 2 hours away? What do you do? You’re at an airport somewhere and, and, you get the picture. Disaster city. So the lesson here is; if you’re carrying parts that may be questionable, you really need to check if it is allowed or make sure they are oil free. This is a first for us.
*If we were carrying a pump for example, and if I knew it was a non hazardous material airline, I would take the pump apart and clean each piece with alcohol or a different solvent, and leave it apart. The agent said they have detectors to look for oil so I suppose what is oil free on the outside can still be checked.
Something else came up with Jet Blue that has never happened in the past. We have one-way tickets to Iceland. The agent asked about that and we told him we were returning to bring our boat back to the States. He asked for boat papers, which fortunately we had. Years ago we made multiple color copies (there are red and blue stamps on the original papers) of the boat papers and had them plasticized. Once Mary presented the papers he said he had to record the registration numbers and country of origin. So that was another first.
It was interesting living aboard a boat a few days before we left. It was a N46 so everything was familiar. Even moving around in the dark was intuitive as well as hand-holds when washing the boat. Of course a N46 is like a chateau/chalet/palace/mansion compared to Bubba. Our friends are close to putting their dirt dwelling on the market. They will be moving aboard full time living in a marina until he can retire or semi retire. She is worried about storing their stuff, they have lotsa nice stuff, but in time after living aboard for a while the stored stuff will loose its luster. We did a clean break* and went stuffless from the beginning and haven’t missed a thing but we’re all different. However, I believe most boaters will agree that after time stuff looses its significance.
*In all fairness it wasn’t total stuffless. We kept the family silver, china and a couple items that were special to us. It will all fit in the back of the Jeep so it isn’t much.
Mary and I have been talking about what we’ll do when we sell Egret. I believe first we’ll buy a small dirt dwelling somewhere out west. We don’t intend to spend much time there, perhaps a couple months a year, if that. Its just a place to keep things. Here’s what happens when you are long term boaters that have been chugging around for years. We can’t get it fast enough. We always want more. We’ve become spoiled. What was exciting in the beginning isn’t today. That’s why we went to Labrador, Greenland and Iceland last year. It is all new and exciting. Its also challenging which makes the trip even that more interesting.
Another thing happens when you become a little north of 60, you realize this isn’t going to last forever. So now what? What can be different but still new and exciting? How can we do it faster? See more, do more, have more experiences? Now the plan is to split Egret into thirds. Tiny dirt dwelling, a small but more comfortable motorhome, and a smaller, drip dry boat. As we said, the dirt dwelling is to store stuff and have a place to leave stuff like a motorhome, Jeep, etc and to go when the drooling begins. The motorhome is to tow the Jeep around to Jeep events with the new group we met. Jeeping is pretty cool stuff, it’s challenging and something new to learn.
The Bubba truck and camper was purpose bought and built. We wanted a 2004-5-6 Dodge Ram diesel, 4wd, standard 6-speed transmission, 4 door, long bed in perfect condition. (Here’s Bubba stored in Utah until the next time). That was a near impossible combination but we lucked out and found a 2006 in Florida even though we contacted Dodge Ram dealers in all the southwestern states to be on the lookout for what we wanted. 2006 is the last year before today’s strict emissions. This means we can burn anyone’s fuel, anywhere in the world. We have as much invested in Bubba after an engine rebuild as a new purchase. However, it is what we want and Bubba is perfect and looks and drives like new. Next up was the camper. We wanted to fit the package into a shipping container so we may send Bubba anywhere in the world we wish. To make a long story short, we ordered the largest model from 4 Wheel Campers and built it like a boat with solar, extra batteries, led lighting, etc, etc. So anyhow, in the big plan we’ll still keep Bubba. Lately we have been looking at U Tube videos to return with Bubba to Chile and Argentina for example. Coz if you flip hemispheres, when it is winter in the northern hemisphere, it is summer down south. So how cool is that?
We talked to 7 builders about the boat. First of course was PAE. Mary and I spent a weekend with Jim Leishman and presented our idea. It is a new class of boat that no one makes. Having been in the boat business and begun a boat building company from scratch with a better idea, I know it would take off. In the end, PAE said that transportation costs from China or Taiwan would make the cost unacceptable. Only one other builder had a pedigree that would give a reasonable return on the other end and they are buried in projects. Without a real pedigree it is just one person’s dreamboat. Rarely is there a reasonable custom boat back end and why we won’t go with the other 5 builders.
Having made the trip from Florida to Iceland in short hops we know how easy it would be to go from the east coast of the U.S. to Europe. The longest hop is only 635nm. From Greenland to Iceland it is 635nm and from Iceland to Norway it is only 535nm. From Iceland to the Faroe Islands it is only 250 or so nm. From either destination it is short hops all the way to Turkey if you wish. I believe there are folks that would like to do all or part of that, particularly with a nominally priced boat. Or it could be shipped to Europe for a nominal amount because of it’s size.
So here’s our idea. The boat would be 32’+- long, 9 ½’ beam, 18-20 degrees of transom deadrise for a soft ride, enough single diesel power to push the boat at 18-20 knots for 750nm. The engine would be in the 350hp range with a straight drive and a protected skeg and strut. 750nm gives a good reserve at cruising speed to go anywhere we wished. Throttled back to displacement speeds it would obviously go much farther. The boat would be very simple, drip dry, V berth forward, with simple systems. It would be low profile with a house aft. It wouldn’t be nearly as comfortable as Egret’s 30+ tons but it would be way more comfortable than Bubba and more than acceptable for 4-5 months or so a year. Being so simple and light, when the cruising season is done, all that needs to be done to put it away is drain the fresh water, drain the head and watermaker, kill the power and leave it anywhere. It could even be left on the hard sitting on tires. Simple, simple and not expensive. We could do the canals of Europe for example. Winter in Paris. Anywhere. Way cool but not to be unless enough of you get after Jim and tell him you want one too. If we could do everything we would keep Egret and have that as well. But we’re poor so we have to do what we do.
Yea, I know my poor tears are rotting your deck shoes but in reality we’re billionaires in adventures but just a bit short in pesos. Anyhow, the plan is to keep moving from one adventure to another by the season, thru the year. Sorta like endless summer but endless fun. Conventional vanilla is boring. Its what everyone does.
Or we could sit on dirt and watch TV. Do facebook. Tweet someone. Yea, right. It would be less painful to walk on glowing coals, broken glass or have voluntary brain surgery. OK, I’ll ease up. Anyhow, you know the deal; live or wonder.
OK, so we’re getting ready to land in Boston.
Boston is behind us and now we are over the North Atlantic where I had a Big Picture thought. Twelve plus years ago none of what I have written would make sense. This would be for someone else. Some lucky person. It wouldn’t seem realistic for us. However, years aboard going here and there gradually took us from conventional thinking to ‘we can do this’. We can do anything. Almost literally. One favorite example is when Egret departed Ascension Island in the way South Atlantic she was headed northwest for Tobago. We already had fuel sourced and knew exactly where we were going to land, then she would be fast tracking thru the Caribbean and so on. Two or three days out of Ascension, Mary was looking at C Map charting on an expanded scale and saw we were actually much closer to the Canary Islands. When I came on watch to relive her she said, “why don’t we go to the Canaries then back into the Med”? Well, OK then. And we did. We did because we could. We loved it. If I hadn’t had a medical scare* with Egret in Italy and decided to return to the U.S., we might still be there. Who knows?
*I had a bout with atrial fib. No biggie that two pills take care of and I’ve been perfect since.
So what I’m trying to say is, long distance cruising brought us to where we are today. Without having done the years and miles we would most likely be more normal and why we’re sharing this with you so you may choose to become somewhat abnormal. Wouldn’t that be fun? Can you imagine what you could see? And do?
Later. The Egret crew is back in Isafjordur. The flight from Boston to Reykjavik was pleasant and it was only 4 ½ hours. After a 50 minute shuttle ride to the Reykjavik airport we caught the commuter plane to Isafjordur. The ticket agent guy looked suspiciously at our carry-on stuff but waved us thru so that was another hurdle done. The harmonic balancer arrived in tact but there was a note in the bag that TSA checked it out. Thank goodness they let it pass.
We arrived in heavy rain and 20+ knots of wind. Locals said the past two months were warm with no wind. Great. And we have at least another 5 days of the same. So this means we began washing our precious in the rain wearing a full suit of foul weather gear and sea boots. It took as long as I could stay awake to wash the cockpit, side deck and half of the pilothouse before it was a quick snack and crash city.
Next up was the fresh water tank, done, and back to washing. Maik, who has been watching Egret since we left came over for dinner said he and his 5 year old son Felix washed the boat. I can’t imagine how dirty it was then they had weather good enough to wash it. Locals said it was the worst winter in 25 years with lotsa snow and much more wind than usual.
Later. So far we have washed most of the boat, started the wing and gen, both started immediately, but we have yet to start the main because of the rain. (We have a cut off fender covering the stack and I don’t want to do the start-up in the rain getting wet in both directions) The first day, Leif the diver came and took the black garbage bag off the prop (that was covered in seed barnacles), cleaned the keel cooler and replaced the cooler zinc (the balance of the zincs were fine). He said the bottom looked good but I still asked if he would come back and wipe the bottom with a towel.
Early on we had a leak in the water pressure system. To make a long story short, we located the leak after some searching. It was the hot/cold water mixer valve in the forward shower. It protrudes into the chain locker and the assembly is protected by a fiberglass cover. So off with the cover to see what was whipping. It turns out the valve was deformed from freezing and can’t be repaired. So I joined the hot water and cold water lines together with a coupling to keep the water flowing in the rest of the boat. I haven’t looked for a replacement yet.
The power to all the boats was off on arrival. Soon after the dockmasters office had someone re-set the dock breaker from inside. Since then we have had intermittent outages. To make another long story short, after checking the Hubbell plug into the boat, the splice in the shore power line and lastly the 3 pin European plug into the receptacle, we found the 3 pin plug had a loose ground wire. So now the heat be on, the hot water is heating and the battery charger is doing it’s deal. So life is good.
Later. Life wasn’t so good. We couldn’t keep the electric on. So I changed both ends of the shore power cord from spares, one at a time. No go each time. Then took apart the Hubbell inlet into the boat, cleaned the already clean wires. No go &^$##@$%………^%$##%^&*.
Two boats over are the Austrian folks from Magellan, a steel sloop who are waiting for ice to clear before heading to Greenland. On board is a friend who happens to be an electrician. So Leo and Fritz came over and the testing began. First we used a completely separate shore power cord with my female Hubbell end. Good to go. Then Leo checked resistance in my cable and it was bad on one leg. There was a splice in the shore power cord I checked the night before and it seemed OK. I unwrapped the splice again and there it was; two broken wires I hadn’t seen before. So we cut away the short end, wired everything back together and it played like always. So it seems simple. It isn’t. It is cold, the wind is puffing with intermittent showers and the boat is moving back and forth from the dock and nothing is easy. This took about 4 hours of frustration in total. Grrrrrrrrrrr.
So other than dirt, the mixer valve and electrical cord is all we have found from the winter-over that needs to be taken care of. As time goes by we’ll keep checking every system to make sure everything is tickiteboo. Also, before we leave for Reykjavik, we’ll do a run to the top of the fjord and back.
Later. We couldn’t source the mixer valve in town so the go-to guy at the tourist center called a plumber friend who came over in minutes and now he is trying to source the valve in Reykjavik. We’ll see. However, we can go without it if we have to. It the forward shower so its no biggie.
Maik has come over the past two evenings for a home cooked meal. Mike is a single dad with his son living with mom in Reykjavik. Felix flies every so often to visit dad. Felix is coming tomorrow night so we’ll get to see him once again. Felix has been thru every possible squeeze space aboard Egret. Felix and his dad spent many nights aboard even though they had minimal heat and no running water. So anyhow, Mary took good care of Maik and filled him up with home cooking.
We got an e-mail today from Dick Anderson, aka Dickiedoo – D Doo, who has been aboard Egret for more offshore miles than many N owners. Hummmm, let’s see: Nelson, South Island, New Zealand to Stewart Island, New Zealand, Nelson to Launceston, Tasmania across the Tasman Sea, Fremantle, Western Australia to the Canary Islands via Cape of Good Hope and stops along the way, plus last year from Boston to Iceland via Nova Scotia, Labrador and Greenland. So he has a few miles aboard Egret as well as N43 Barquita and N46 Suprr, both in Australia. Anyhow, Dick will be joining Egret once again on the 14th in Reykjavik. So that will be fun. We promised we wouldn’t leave until at least the 16th to give him time to get somewhat right after flights from half way around the world.
This winter has been a bad ice year in the Arctic. Greenland and Labrador’s ice isn’t good. Cruise ships have been cancelling trips thru the Northwest Passage. We also heard that next year won’t be good because there will be 2 year ice so until it cycles warm again, not much will be happening up north. Today’s ice report for the southern tip of Greenland is the best yet but even if Prince Christian Sound were clear which it is still certainly clogged, it would take major ice routing around heavy ice plus pushing thru 1/10ths ice for 15nm or so just to get to the entrance. However it is super windy so perhaps that will keep the ice moving.
It has gotten colder since we arrived with less rain, more wind and very light snow flurries (AND it’s summer!). Last night we had up to 36 knots. Egret was barely moving but the two light sailboats in front of Egret were doing the Bo Jangles surging against their lines. (We 3 were on the lee side of the dock) Directly across the dock is a large ketch with Magellan rafted next to it (45’ or so steel) and a smaller sloop outboard of Magellan. The ketch was getting mushed against the dock driven by the windage of the other two sailboats plus its own mast and rigging. In front of those three is a large ketch rigged stone ship and a smaller boat outboard of it. The boats are a mix of locals and the usual potpourri of international cruisers. The moorings are also full with a couple small local boats and 3 boats waiting on ice in Greenland. I don’t know if I mentioned it or not but Isafjordur is the staging port for East Greenland. EG is one of the least visited spots on earth and why it is so appealing to the high latitude types.
There is a large mega-yacht in the anchorage complete with a helicopter. They too are staging and hiding from weather. The boat has 7 crew and 10 guests so I suppose it is a charter boat. They are going to attempt the North East Passage across the top of Russia. The NE Passage is one of my secret grand adventures. I spent some time on it and it is doable in a reasonable ice year. However, I’m not sure this year or next are reasonable ice years. The hardest part is officialdom and fuel logistics but I had a plan. I’ll save that for us just in case.
OK, now for a little techno. We haven’t had techno for a while and this is super important for those of you who have or will have a 6 cylinder, 668 Lugger engine. We mentioned before that John Deere recommends replacing the harmonic balancer in front of the engine at 5,000 hours as part of long term maintenance. We didn’t know this and have 12,834 hours. So we got the right part number from Lugger Bob, picked it up at RPM Diesel in Ft Lauderdale and thankfully made it thru the TSA folks at the airport so when we arrived in Isfjordur it was still in luggage. This is something I have sweated for some time since I learned it needed to be replaced.
Anyhow, we did the engine start up this morning for the first time since arriving and the engine ran rough at idle and smoother at 750 RPM. The Happy Little Lugger hasn’t been its usual smooth self since mid way up the U.S. East Coast. We have new injectors and I knew the valves were adjusted perfectly so I didn’t know what it could be. It wasn’t bad, but different. Every boat owner after time learns every noise, harmonic or vibration in the boat. Any change is something to look in to. We warmed the engine then shut it down and I gathered my tools.
Here’s what tools you need to change the harmonic balancer:
3/8” ratchet, 3” extension, 13mm and 15mm sockets.
½” breaker bar, ½-3/8” adapter, and in this case, a Big wrench with one end closed and an 8” phillips screwdriver. That’s all.
Incidentally, if you don’t know and don’t have good tools** for your boat, it pays to get good tools and 6 point sockets, not 12 point girl sockets. There is a big difference between 6 point and 12 point, particularly if you have to remove a compromised nut or bolt (rusty or partially rounded).
So here’s the deal step by step. Of course years ago I marked the original harmonic balancer with a stripe showing top dead center (TDC). If your engine isn’t marked at TDC, you may determine TDC* per the valve adjustment instructions in your Lugger owners manual. You will have to remove the valve cover to determine TDC. To be sure you have reached TDC the #1 valve will be loose per the Lugger valve adjustment directions and you will be able to insert a phillips screwdriver into the small hole on the back of the transmission. If the screwdriver hits the flywheel about 1 inch in, rotate the balancer clockwise another 360 degrees and it should fit. Lugger recommended a hardened (grade 8) 5/16” bolt but it is slightly oversize for our gear. So I used my trusty phillips screwdriver I use when when adjusting the valves.
I suppose I should say how we turn the engine manually the CJ (Cheapie Joe) way and not use the factory la di da tool that turns the flywheel and makes you run back and forth or have a second person. The front of the balancer has three – 3/8” x 16 threaded (coarse thread) and one blank hole. Thread three – 3/8” x 2 1/2"” stainless or steel bolts into the balancer. Use the breaker bar to turn the balancer clockwise until you find top dead center*. The bolts are shown in the first photograph. Then mark it and REMEMBER WHERE THE MARK MOVES WHEN YOU BREAK THE 4 BOLTS LOOSE ATTACHING THE BALANCER TO THE FRONT PULLEY!
Using the breaker bar and the 15mm socket to loosen the 4 bolts shown in the picture inside the harmonic balancer. The balancer will move then come up tight on the screwdriver or factory insert pin. They were super tight so I had to use a large wrench shown in the picture to add extra leverage. A short piece of pipe would do the same thing.
The balancer is centered by a short snout. Once the bolts are out, wiggle the balancer and it comes off easily. The serpentine belt stays in place. Our original balancer had the numbers 667 cast into one spoke of the casting as did the replacement. That spoke was the one I marked TDC. I lined up the new balancer 667 spoke with the bolt holes in the same place and marked the new 667 spoke with a stripe and TDC. I’m not sure it makes a difference but I did it the same anyhow. So then tighten the 4 bolts to 60 ft lbs and you be done except for putting the shroud back on. I asked Mary to start the engine before replacing the shroud while I watched and told her to keep one thumb on the stop button. The HLL started instantly and it ran super smooth at idle, exactly like it did 12+ years ago. So that’s good.
After it ran for a while we shut down and I threaded the 3/8” turning bolts into the new balancer, turned the engine to TDC, reinserted the phillips screwdriver and re-torqued the 15mm balancer attachment bolts. They were perfect with no changes. Once the screwdriver was OUT (Real Important!!), I replaced the shroud, did another start-up and all was well. So that’s pretty cool and it’s a no-brainer mechanically. The job took about 1 ½ hours and that was because of rounding up tools and moving stuff in the engine room, otherwise it would be a bit shorter.
** Or you could buy a 714 piece, $69.95 bargain kit and weep when you really have to do something important. Its sorta like when your CJ sand cast socket won’t fit between the bolt and whatever because it is so FAT and the water that was ankle deep at first and now it is knee deep and the socket still won’t fit and finally you begin to freak and try to hammer it in place with your CJ girl hammer and then it splits because it is sand cast and now its getting grim and the Admiral is on your butt and you squirm and whine and tell her how much money you saved after spending jillions on your new precious and she doesn’t care because now she’s getting wet and hopefully you didn’t cheap out on your life raft because that is important as well but you probably got a bargain on that too so you will have to listen to you know who before your bargain life raft begins to leak and panic sets in and the real noise begins but at least your kids will inherit a few more pesos because you cheaped out. You get the picture.
The antifreeze in the engine was low so we topped up. We use pre-mix antifreeze called Fleet Guard from NAPA Auto Parts just so we don’t have to carry antifreeze and distilled water both.
Here’s another little tip we’ll pass along. Any boat owner with even a glimmer of smarts has a pair of knee pads aboard to keep wear and tear to a minimum. We went thru an evolution from CJ pads that don’t work well with bony knees, to gel pads with a hard outer shell that don’t stay in place to the world’s best knee pads; skateboard knee pads. They are lightweight, hinge and they have good clasps that don’t slip. They are also thin and don’t scratch the varnished sole. We got the heads up from Bill Bane who kept theirs from their N46 to use for photography. Bill had two sets and gave us one. The knee pads have Black Diamond embossed at the top, if that is a brand.
We’ve gone thru the navigation laptops, autopilot, 4 GPS’s, wind instrument, and both radars. Everything fired up and worked like the day we left. All we have to do along those lines is replace the Iridium battery, add the new sim card and make sure it connects to ocens for e-mail and weather. Oh yea, check the running lights and anchor light. But first its time for nap chores. More to follow.
I was going thru pictures to include the engine room photos with this posting and came across the most recent from this year’s trip on the same SD card. First is a picture of Mary on Independence Pass in Colorado. There is a little story here. I took a picture of Mary on the pass in the same spot years ago before she applied to physical therapy school. She was wearing a green sweatshirt. It was that picture she submitted with her resume’. There were over 400 students applying for 42 positions. She got chosen as an alternate. I suggested she go down to the university and meet with the head of department. She did and told him she IS going to be a physical therapist, she has had her children and this is the only school she can attend. He remembered her from the photograph standing on the pass because it was an unusual picture to submit with your application. The rest is history. She graduated top of her class and went on from there. She’s my hero.
Another was taken in the old mining town of Crested Butte, Colorado. CB is where Bobby Redford has some digs. We were there with the boys on our last family vacation before they left the nest.
And last is a modern gold mine. If you think gold mines are like ye ol’ tymes with a hole in the rock and a few scraggly miners doing their deal, things have changed. So these snaps are pretty cool and two tell a personal story.
So the weather finally turned to super nice with sun and warm temps. Imagine that after the past days of gloom? So like hermits from a cave, we went out for other than trips to the grocery store. We took a few snaps. The first is looking back at Egret’s winter berth. The second is turned the other way toward town and the mooring field. You can see there is little of winter snow remaining and less than we left in October.The aluminum sloop in the center distance is Ralph’s from Switzerland we met last year in Greenland. Ralph is a climber and plans to spend the month of August climbing in East Greenland. Almost never seen areas by boat mixed with never climbed peaks are the holy grail for serious climbers.
We mention lists of things to do. Most are small details and others like changing the harmonic balancer are critical. So you know what it’s all about here’s the list.
Open all seacox. This includes the A/C’s, wing, gen, 2 shower drains, 3 sink drains, holding tank drains, stabilizer cooling inlet and the watermaker/salt water washdown seacox.
Bleed A/C strainers.
Run both A/C’s. (We never use the 3d pilothouse A/C. Most N46 owners don’t once they figure out they get enough heat/cooling from the other two units and the drip pan sloshes in seas).
Tighten rudder arm bolts.
Run Naiad pump.
Start wing and gen.
Start main. (We won’t mention the balancer. This was a first.)
With main running, check the stabilizers.
Start gen and run watermaker.
Check running lights and anchor light.
Dissemble and grease windlass.
Top up windlass oil.
Top up steering reservoir and re-pressurize.
Check all GPS’s.
Check both navigation laptops.
Check both radars.
Check both VHF’s.
Lower big dink, clean and get running.
Remove small dinghy cover, blow up tubes and clean. Recover.
Clean anchor locker.
Put forward shower cover back. (Parts weren’t available so we will have one shower until we return to the U.S.)
Clean wing and gen.
Have diver check zincs and wipe bottom.
Send e-mail to activate Iridium sim card.
Check ocens e-mail and weather.
Provision for return trip.
So that’s the first list. Almost every item is done and I’m sure there will be more items added. The single hardest part was cleaning the waterline. Grease from a restaurant somehow makes it’s way into the pocket of the harbor and makes a mess of everyone’s waterlines. It took Mary and I most of an afternoon to get things reasonably clean. One we get into warm water it is best done by standing in shallow water with the boat pulled to a beach. If not, the next time we haul.
We’ll wrap up this novelish posting with VofE techno tip 3,163*. OK, so what do you do when you pass thru a customs inspection that doesn’t value cruiser traditions of sundowners quite as highly as The Fleet? Innovation comes to mind. Here’s a snap of MS refilling the ‘show bottle’. Cool, eh?
The balance of 3,162 VofE techno tips are there for the searchers.
Egret is for sale. http://youtu.be/AAR5wK-sWRs
Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.