All in Arctic

Into the Shetlands, Saturday, Sept. 15

Left Norddepil, Faroes at 6am, all hands on deck to raise sails. Very fresh westerlies but a change coming in the next 36 hours so Gijs wanted to get to sea early to have a clear run to the Shetlands before the winds changed. All sails raised, a quick breakfast and on watch at 8. Breeze very fresh from the West and as our course was roughly East South East down came the normal jib and up went the large jib as well as the main and mizzen topsails, Tecla then carrying her full suit of sails; large jib, foresail, main and mizzen sails and main and mizzen topsails. It was a downwind run and the ship blasted its way through the swells and waves at between 8 and 9 knots all day.

Saw whales in the afternoon, two who appeared only momentarily a couple of hundred metres to starboard, fin whales I think…

Leaving Torshavn, Faroes Monday Sept. 10

Torshavn on a Sunday is very much like Toronto the Good used to be 50 years ago, nothing open except the odd restaurant and cafe and very few people to be seen. Captain Gijs had arranged for a minivan to take most of my cremates on a drive around the island to see some of the local landmarks. I pulled something in my hip when we were raising sail and have been managing it with Advils and Tylenol but I didn’t feel up for a long day sitting in a van so decided to stay behind and write my blog and work on some pictures. As it turned out many of the places that the van visited were on Gijs’ sailing itinerary so we will end up visiting them by sea as well as by land and so I won’t have missed anything…

Arrived Torshavn, Faroes Sunday Sept 9

We left Reykjavik on Tuesday night, we have been sailing steadily since then and arrived at Torshavn, Faroe Islands this morning Sunday at 7am. At 10:30 last night we passed the lighthouse on the outermost Faroe island, whose name I can’t remember, and we were demonstrably in Faroe waters. Our expected arrival time was around 10am, on our watch, but when I awoke at 7 this morning to have breakfast and get ready for my watch I could feel the way coming off the boat so I knew all was good. It’s been an exciting couple of days sail….

Scoresby Sund and Ittoqqortoormitt 16/08/14

Overnight and this morning the ship sailed further down the east coast of Greenland and entered Scoresby Sund, the largest fjord system in the world covering about 38,000 sq kilometers and whose arms at times extend about 350 kilometres inland from the coast.

We will be visiting the Innuit village of Ittoqqortoormitt a hunting community perched at the edge of the fjord and numbering about 450 people. They town's dock is not large enough to accommodate our ship so we will have a wet landing on zodiacs to the shoreline in front of the town....

Greenland and at sea 15/08/14

Arrived this morning in Kejser Franz-Josepph Fjord, East Greenland  and we have sailed from 80 degrees North at the top of Spitsbergen to 73 degrees North at our present location. Because we are 7 degrees farther south we are once again seeing sunsets at about 11:30 pm and sunrise at about 3:30 am.

The intercom went off at about 6:30 this morning, a call from the captain to tell us that a school of humpback whales were swimming and feeding around the ship and so we tumbled into our clothes and up to the 6'th level deck where there is an Observation lounge area surrounded on three sides by floor to ceiling windows and access to the open deck. Wind was chill and the temperature about 3 or 4C, frigid. Whales would spout and rise to the surface, breathe and sink back into the water, 1 or 2 at a time and about 200 or 300 metres off the side of the ship....