Sea Breeze in Greenland
Yes, we are at home now and the Sea Breeze, will stay for this winter in Newport Rhode Island.
After two years of preparation and the beautiful trip from the Med to Norway, end of May 2016 we started in Bergen. Over Iceland, Greenland, Labrador and Nova Scotia we crossed the North Atlantic to Rhode Island. Close to the arctic waters, as the only boat of this year on the east to west route. From the other side we met about 10 sailing yachts but no trawlers. Interesting was the encounter with David Scott Cowper in his Polar Bound. He came from England directly to the west coast of Greenland and continued then after a pleasant week together to the north-west passage! From our side, everything went very well. I can confirm: The Selene 60' is absolutely made for such trips. The behaviour in high waves and strong winds is very stable and safe. All systems on board have worked well and have met their requirements. We have managed to achieve this result by the prevention of any failure through constant control, service- and maintenance works of all systems. Very important were indeed the preparation works of the boat this spring in Norway. For example, the change of the starter batteries for both Cummins QSL9 and the Generator, or to clean the two fuel tanks from the inside. Dirty fuel would have been the greatest danger of a failure in the high seas with these strong movements. We added special and necessary equipment for the arctic waters. For example: For a safe mooring in the deep fjords, with their steeply sloping anchorages, especially long ropes as well as rock anchors. Or for the land excursions in the polar bear land, the purchase of a rifle including the completion of a shooting course, or the supplementing of the equipment with a special towing rope (60m Long and 60mm thick), which floats and can not freeze through its structure and thus does not break in heavy seas. In order to be able to carry out any repairs even under water, a crash course for diving in ice water with a dry suit took place too.
So that everything went well, the right strategy with the weather was also a very important thing. Basically, we were able to avoid getting in really heavy weather. For the longer passages we always waited for the arrival of a depression, and then we started in relatively bad conditions, so it was possible for us to arrive on the coastal areas occupied by icebergs under rather good conditions. This is absolutely necessary, because the combination of Icebergs (ice floes), fog (no visibility) and strong wind (waves) must be avoided. Because of the necessary safety, only two of these influencing factors are allowed to come together. If all three meet, you have to turn back to free water (if you still can) or stop the engines and wait ...!
Only about 2-3 times we had for some time, because of very poor visibility, to continue under walking-tempo, or because of too dense ice conditions, seeking a way back into free water. But it was never a problem, but all in all an incredibly great and impressive experience.
In these waters ice floes (bergy bits and growlers) must always be expected. In good conditions this is not a problem at all, but in a troubled sea they are difficult to see and this can seriously endanger the boat. Also our radars (because of rounded ice floes without edges) or the FLIR (in the cool rain and in the mist) did not give sufficient results for the necessary safety.
A special challenge was that in Greenland virtually no depth information on the charts are available. The reason is that it could not yet be measured adequately because of the pack ice, or it is not of any use, because the drifting icebergs transform the seabed every year. The icebergs move the largest rock from one place to another. More often we have to explore our way and the anchor grounds with the dinghy to prevent running on ground. So we had to navigate very carefully in these waters but really, also we had a lot of luck (or a good guardian angelů)! The low temperatures in the Arctic we did not feel as cold (at sea normally between 1░C and 9░C and on land nearly up to 20░C !). If there is no mist or fog, the air is very dry and therefore comfortable. The visibility is much wider and clearer. Everything looks closer than it really is.
The most difficult and most tiring passage was then later between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia: 36 hours against +/- 30kn wind. The best way to get ahead with the boat in this situation was, to "sail" against the wind at an angle of about 30░. The waves were longer then, the wind helped to stabilize the boat and the loss of speed was less.
The route from Labrador down to Newport we have totally underestimated. It is a long and challenging path and so it took us much longer! But it is a great and very interesting area too. The boat is now winter proof and is waiting for the journey to the Great Lakes next spring.
Marcel and the brave Sea Breeze