Exercise Midnight Sun - Greenland 2008

Saturday 9th Aug 08


Crew Profile - WHITE WATCH - KHUSH




Quiet, innocent-sounding and reserved, the reality here is that Khush is a thinking student who appears clever - sitting in the heads, absorbing all the graphic information presented on safety and the like.  I sense sometimes that he is frustrated a little and will benefit from returning to JSASTC and completing an experience trip on a Victoria 34 followed by a formal course. 


A popular member of his watch, often maximising rejuvenating rest (!) and always in need of sustenance, he is on the look out for fun ... so now is your chance girls.   Not many shots of him in action so not really able to think of one I can publish though.




Crew Profile - WHITE WATCH - RAM


RamHere is a characterful member of the crew.  Ram has embraced his role on the yacht and has set about performing as the Purser under a degree of sufferance.  But I am pleased to say that this vital role is in safe hands - he will understand the requirement well for future ocean passages.  Ram is keen to do more and I hope he will gain qualifications and put them to good effect by taking TA soldiers sailing out of Gosport under the watchful eyes of Windy and MJ.


RamRam - sense of humour fully intact - receives guidance from the skipper on helming in a straight line!!!



















Well here I am, slightly more refreshed than I was at 0305 hrs when I finally managed to get my head down.  Regrettably I was woken again at 0445 to send a position report to the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre.  We have to send these every 6 hours now that we are in Greenlandic waters until we enter port.  We arrived 75 miles off Cape Farewell yesterday and since then have been battling winds, magnetic anomalies and stuff to make progress towards our next waypoint.  I rose this morning to find that we had gone backwards in the 4 ours I was away from the helm!  Oh well, these things happen.  We are now sailing in daylight, a fresh and chilly northerly breeze blowing down the Labrador Sea from the Arctic.  We have about 8 hours sailing to reach the East Greenland current which will favorably take Adventure up the west coast at about 0.5 kts.  Every little helps - as this could give us an extra 12 miles over 24 hours if we are lucky.  Only issue remains fog and ice.  The current is exactly the area within 30 miles of the coast where these things occur.  The East coast has ice bergs that float south in the East Greenland current and some turn north up the west side but most on the west coast are calves from fjords or sea ice.  A couple of people thought they heard sea ice running along the hull.  Not confirmed, but the sea temperature might support some bits.


Bird life has become more prolific.  Most of our passage we have been accompanied by white and grey sea birds that have swooped and banked in our turbulent airflow and swept in towards the rigging.  They perform stunning passes and low level runs that touch the wave top almost - they remind me on barnstormers at an air show.  More recently we have picked up a number of other species, most noticeably some puffins.  Now they are really cute, skimming short distances along the sea surface before diving under the waves. I think I was the first to see an Arctic Tern, so clearly distinguishable by its shape and colour when compared to the common sea birds.  And last evening we were sailing to windward but on a beat in the confused airs following a blow but with the swell from the stern from that blow, strange conditions.  But it brought tens of sea birds using the lift created to fly without effort behind us and soar up in to the sky, banking round only to have another run at us; felt like being under attack by a squadron of Spitfires!


The other noticeable change is the air temperature - it is decidedly chilly now.  All have donned more layers and thermals.  The rather sexy look of thermal long johns under shorts is sported by a few of us!  All the rage really.  Others have donned their provided Musto midlayers under their oillies and now look like Michelin people.  Hats and gloves are essential and we have still not found a glove that remains dry.  Drying anything is difficult so it is guaranteed to be an uncomfortable task to don cold wet gloves for a 4 hour watch in the Arctic airs.  Morale remains high.  We have a long beat to windward now - 400 miles or so if the wind does not change.  But at present we have a flat sea so it is perfectly comfortable.





Force 6 Winds with Force 11 Excitement


Exciting sailingThe low pressure has moved in as expected and due to some great planning and a bit of luck we were in the right position to take advantage of the stronger winds.  We started our next watch (1200 to 1400) with the pressure at around 1016, by then end of our watch this had dropped to 1014, indicating some “sporty” weather was likely just around the corner.  The pressure continued to fall steadily and by the end of our next watch (1600 to 2000) had fallen to around 1011.  The sails were reconfigured (the Goose Wing was removed) as the wind speed increased.  The wind also changed direction slightly putting us on to a broad reach.  During our watch the wind picked up to between 21 and 24 knots (force 5 to 6) with the sea state around 4.  As we had the main and No. 1 Yankee up kept a close eye on conditions as they were close to requiring a reef and possibly sail change.  However, the wind and sea states remained steady which made for enjoyable helming (nothing better than surfing down the waves) and no changes were required.  I think everyone is happier with the sportier conditions.  Although a quiet sail with some pleasant sun on the deck is great, I think we all signed up with expectations of strong winds and heavy seas.  Of course, getting both sets of conditions on one trip is a real bonus – great planning Skipper! 


Our following watch (0000 to 0400) continued along the same lines as the earlier watch.  As it is dark and the sea temperature is dropping, we are being cautious and keeping a regular lookout for ice using night vision aids.  We don’t really expect it at the moment, but we’d rather be safe than do some kind of Titanic impression.  Windy joined us on deck during this watch.  We had bets regarding his first words / action as he came up. True to form (and as we had guessed), he said “Do you mind if I have a little drive to see how she’s handling?”  This is Windy’s way of saying “Great conditions – I wanna have a go!”


Overnight the pressure dropped further to 1011. When we returned for our morning watch the sea state was at 5 and the wind was a constant force 6.  The best part was that although the sky was grey, there was no rain.  The skipper took the helm (below) at the beginning of our watch, much to Linda’s disappointment.  We couldn’t prise his fingers off the wheel!  In these conditions everyone wants to helm. Eventually the skipper relented and offered the helm to Linda whose eyes lit up like a kid at Christmas. Linda attempted to hog the helm as usual but Byrne was having none of it.



9 Aug 08We had one moment of slight concern whilst Byrne was helming.  A freak wave suddenly loomed up which was spotted by the wave spotter (this task was being very well handled by Linda at the time) which allowed Byrne to turn hard to port, away from the wave.  As the wave was large and fast we couldn’t quite make the turn in time and ended up dipping the boom in the water.  Fortunately it was less than a foot and we didn’t pivot off of it, which could have been a little emotional.  We were informed that Blue watch were slightly less impressed as they had to mop up all the water in the Galley after this.  Helming during that watch was exhilarating and there were whoops of joy as we surfed the waves.   Below, Andy at the helm.


9 Aug 08Near the end of the watch Andy asked what time Rachel (her watch was next on duty) wanted to be woken.  Byrne and Linda suggested that we let them sleep and continue helming!  Sadly that was not to be and it was time to switch over to mother watch.  Café Rouge was again open for business.  This evening we had some fish cakes with some lemon drizzle cake for desert.  Ram commented that it was the best meal since the venison, which was a compliment Andy and Linda really appreciated.  Washing up duties and cleaning of the heads was left to Byrne and Greg.  This is now completed and we have finally found some time to sit and write this blog entry.  As we write, we are sadly accompanied by the sound of our faithful donkey.  The winds have died down and the sea has become calm.  Blue watch have also reported that there are some local magnetic anomalies - the compass appears to be swinging around 30 degrees off and back again.  This made helming a whole lot trickier and they eventually gave in and followed the wind and GPS.  The wind is also being rather fluky so helming is certainly an experience.


Time to hand this over to the skipper so he can make it available for you to read and then it’s off to bed as it is an early start (0630) so we can have breakfast ready by 0730.  Tomorrow we will have a chance shower and shave again.  It is amazing how quickly the mother watch seems to come around.


Before we go, we have been asked to comment on kit for the 2nd leg crew.  This is indeed a difficult question.  The weather has been kind to us which has meant that many of us have too many clothes.  However, if we had experienced bad weather we would have been very appreciative of this fact.  We would suggest that the packing list provided with the Admin Order is fairly comprehensive and should stand you in good stead.  If you can squeeze in a pillow, it is a real nice to have.  Also, a neck scarf (for example, Buff) is certainly a worthwhile investment.  If the weather is kind you will probably have an opportunity to wash some kit and hang it out – but this is not guaranteed.  There are some sleeping bags on board, but you will require a sleeping bag for the transit nights, so make sure you bring one.  Morale bakes have gone down very well – so if you are able to bring along a recipe and if possible some packet mixes (enough for 14 people) you’ll make the crew very happy.  Keep things simple.

Right, definitely bed time now – it’s 0100.


Yours, Red Watch (Andy, Byrne, Greg and Linda)



No longer the Wet Watch


Having been on Mother watch the last 4 hours, we have left all that sailing thing to the other crews, and we have all now experienced full on weather and got a drenching.  Our mother was done under the best circumstances. It was pretty calm during the day, just right for preparing dinner, and whilst we were snug in bed it all picked up.  25 knots and sea state 5.  By the time we came to finish our mother watch, thing had calmed down and left us with some superb sailing.


9 aug 08

Peter made full use of the early fine conditions to make his specialty, warm buttered scones.  They came out superbly and were much complimented.  (Last time I tried scones at home, following the recipe exactly, they came out as biscuits. Funny how just throwing the ingredients together on a boat and with an oven that sets its own temperature, the scones come out perfect. Peter).


Peter promises to get a shave before going home to his wife



For Terry, some more boat stats as at 19:30am 08 Aug 08 (GMT).
Visibility: 98
Sea State: 3
Pressure: 1014 steady
Course Planned: 310deg
Compass Course: 300deg
Wind direction: NNE
True Wind Speed: 7 knots
Distance run in last hour: 5 knots
Sea Temp 9.8
Sail set: Main, No1 and staysail.

After a couple of days of easy sailing the winds picked up again forcing us to get used 9 Aug 08again to the wild movements of the boat. This gave the crew the chance to make up some ground with boat speed averaging around 9 knots and 40 miles being clocked up on one watch. While this was happening we on mother were either trying to sleep while constantly feeling like we were about to fall out of our beds and wondering if the noise being created above was caused by fear or excitement. After a difficult breakfast and shower we returned to sailing duties by which time the winds had settled again, and the problem we now face is getting as much speed and good direction from unfavourable and light winds.



We are only 75 miles off the coast of Greenland and are about due to head North again9 Aug 08 following the coast. Hopefully when we get into the coast we will see some nice views of the Greenland fjords and glaciers which are supposed to be superb, or so the books say. The wind as already said picked up considerably yesterday and made for an interesting mother watch. Making breakfast with the boat crashing up and down was interesting for Allan and Neil to put it mildly. We are now back on watch and sailing along in mild conditions however the swell and light winds can make the boat very tricky to move around and swing it about which is very frustrating. Off for four hours from midnight then back on at four again in the morning in time to see the sun come up, hopefully. There is a definite change in the light at nigh so we may get to see that midnight sun yet !!!!  


Blue Watch – Anne, Peter, Neil, Allan   



Postion as at 9 Aug 08 17.20hrs (59°41'26"N 47°35'52"W)

Speed - 12 km/h

Course - 347°


Current Position