July 23, 2015

Outside of hurricanes and tropical storms July is a great month to sail the North Atlantic. Both times I’ve sail the Labrador Sea I’ve had steady Southeast winds around 25kts for days on end. The Labrador Sea may be foggy and wet but pushes you north at a good speed. The sun did finally make an appearance for a day or so and we saw our first ice berg of the trip. Then the fog came back until we spotted land. The radar sees icebergs easily but not growlers (little bergy bits) those you just have to watch for.

We took the southern approach to Nuuk, crossing through fjords and passing by rocky little islands. After so many days in the fog it felt like we had sailed to some mythical land of the lost. This also gave us a chance to stop and further test our scientific equipment. It’s absolutely crucial that all devices and sensors are working properly, or else this entire Greenland Climate Project will be for nothing. Although we have been collecting data with both the PCO2 device and the thremolsainiagraph since Annapolis it is the Arctic waters just north of us where the real interest lies. I’ll explain the research more as we sail north.

It was nice to get back to land, but it’s not like you’re going to pull into a marina and tie off. There are no marinas. We spotted Nuuk from a distance and watched as it would get completely shrouded in fog, then clear up, then disappear. I didn’t want to navigate Nuuk harbor blind as a bat and luckily the fog cleared briefly as we entered the harbor. But Now what? Should we just tie off to some random boat, hope the owner is ok with it and isn’t about to go anywhere? What else can we do?

We temporally tied off to a tug boat until customs came and we could figure out a better place. When you look at the picture of Nuuk’s inner harbor can you see our boat? We are the boat that’s tied off to a boat that’s tied off to a boat that’s tied off to a boat that’s tied off to the wall, with another boat tied off to our other side. As you can imagine Nuuk is not set up to handle sailboats, it’s about as far from being “yachty” as possible. But everyone is very nice.

We met another sailing couple around our age, Jessie and Samantha. They sailed through the Northwest Passage last year and are on their way to Iceland. Only three boats made it through the Northwest Passage last year so they had to deal with serous ice that wasn’t there when I sailed through in 2011. You never know what you’re going to get in the Northwest Passage. Money doesn’t mean much up here as there is not much to buy, so it’s all about trading. I traded Jessie a giant salted pig for a Refleks diesel heater, with the chimney and day tank (Jessie was being very generous). I hope to install in in our aft cabin where we sleep.

We have used our time in Nuuk fairly well. It can be difficult to get around to fixing the boat when all you want to do is walk around town and get a break from the boat. We will push off either tonight or tomorrow heading for Sisimut. It’s a brief layover, I have to find a guy named Bent, ill explain later. All in all everything is going well.

The tally:

To get from Renee and Bobby Muller’s back yard in Annapolis MD, to Nuuk we sailed 2,669 nautical miles at an average speed of 4.7kts (113 miles a day). We were underway for roughly 23 ½ days, which compared to 63 days last year and 73 days the year before isn’t bad. We even got to stop twice. We certainly aren’t breaking any speed records with this boat but it is fairly comfortable, all things considered.

Fortotudine Vincinimus

Matt Rutherford

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