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Iceland & Greenland to Canada, Looking for info Messages in this topic - RSS

Dick
Posts: 361


13 days ago
Dick
Posts: 361
Hi Bill,
Good questions and I should have included dates as they are important in that part of the world. I will add to the original and re-post. In the meantime:
I do not have my log books with me, but we cruised the Outer Hebrides April into early May when we left Stornoway for the Faroes. About mid-June we left for Iceland. We were looking to leave Iceland when Prince Christian Sound opened: it didn’t but we felt we needed to leave regardless when August was approaching and we had a good weather window. It was not until Aug 6 that PCS opened and we got through and to the west side of Greenland. Finally, it is generally thought wise to be leaving Greenland for Canada by mid-August.
We arrived in Newfoundland in about the third week of Aug. where we over-wintered Alchemy in a wonderful marina in Lewisporte. One of our goals was to cruise the Canadian Maritimes and they prove to be as wonderful as reported: we are still there in 2019.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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Bill Balme
Administrator
Posts: 219


13 days ago
Bill Balme
Administrator
Posts: 219
Dick,
Thanks for sharing that - interesting indeed. What was the timing of your trip? When did you leave Stornaway and when did you arrive in Newfoundland? Did you overwinter somewhere up there?
Bill

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Bill Balme
s/v Toodle-oo!
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Dick
Posts: 361


14 days ago
Dick
Posts: 361
The Northern Route to America from Northern Europe
s/v Alchemy, Ginger and Dick Stevenson
The following is a short description of our Northern Route across the Atlantic from Europe to Canada: Scotland to the Faroes to Iceland to Greenland to Newfoundland (2017). It includes some description of preparations specific to this route and a thumb nail sketch of the trip itself.
Our Ship’s Logs (periodic letters to friends and family) and Alchemy Harbor Notes for these passages/cruises will go a long way to flesh out the below details: please contact if wished.
We are a 40-foot fiberglass sailing vessel whose speed on passage usually averages just under 6 knots and is usually sailed by just the 2 of us. Choosing the northern route--the Viking route--was not done without some serious trepidation and we spent considerable time preparing over the previous year. In the end, the Viking route just made a great deal more sense and took us to magnificent cruising grounds that were (and are) unique. The usual route across the Atlantic to Maritime Canada remains, for the vast majority of cruisers: S to African coastal islands, west to the Caribbean, and then north. The Viking route is 4 passages, the longest still less than 700nm. The Trade Winds route has far greater distances and needs far more time to accomplish. A personal consideration is that we had already spent much time in the Caribbean and in sunny/beachy locales and are at an age where the sun is not our friend.
Preparation:
We had not done a long ocean passage in a decade, so upgrades were in order. More specific to the passage, I suspected that our go-to long distance communications over the decades (SSB radio, ham and marine) might be difficult with the sun up most of the day causing propagation issues and being so far N (this proved to be the case), so we got a sat phone with data connection. It had an impressive learning curve, but eventually proved essential in Greenland communicating with the ice patrol and getting ice charts. We also used a knowledgeable shore-based computer person (family member) to “personalize” ice charts by cropping and compression so their transmit load would not be as high.
We also chose to use a professional weather router for the first time. The sat phone also made for easy comm with Commanders Weather, who proved very helpful, especially at picking windows to leave Iceland and, later, Greenland. We were glad of the additional support they gave to our own forecasting skills.
Another change from our usual SOPs was to have crew for the Greenland parts as we anticipated that the passages could be quite challenging. We were also concerned that much work might be needed in securing hold-fasts on shore and the like. These concerns proved unwarranted, as passage conditions were relatively fast and easy, and we found anchoring depths workable for free anchoring.
We expected that at least once a low traveling from Canada would pass over us, producing head winds and higher velocities, and we would heave-to for a period for the low to pass, but that did not turn out to be the case. The jet stream tracked S this season and our wind directions were reaches to wind behind the majority of the time making for comfortable, fast passages. The weather was as forecast. Our longest passage was around 5 ½ days.
Cold was not an issue: we have 2 heaters, a Refleks (drip diesel--better at anchor) and an Eberspracher (forced hot air--better at sea). We very much appreciated the redundancy of heat sources. We had a lot of lovely sun, and some rain and fog.
We also have 2 self-steering devices (wind vane and below-decks electric).
We have plastic “curtains” (think of the hung strips of plastic at the entrance to an ice/cold room, but far more attractive) hung on the aft end of our dodger which allows for the on-watch to sit protected from rain, spray and wind, leading to a huge increase in comfort. In higher latitudes these have extended our season by weeks at each end and made all higher latitude sailing far more comfortable.
We bought one exposure suit, largely with scrambles ashore from dinghy in mind to establish hold-fasts; in boisterous weather, it seemed that this work would provide ample opportunities for falling into the water (temps were 1-6C/33-40F). Experienced and knowledgeable cruisers we know would have wished us to have survivor suits. We found stowage of the 1 exposure suit a bit of a challenge on our 40-foot vessel, let alone 2-3 survival suits.
Offshore storm survival practices (and the documentation of their actual effectiveness) have come a long way in the last decade or so and we bought a Jordan Series Drogue, hoping it would be like the umbrella one carries to ward off rain. This proved to be the case.
Thumb nail sketch of each country:
The Faroes, an overnight sail from Stornoway, The Outer Hebrides, were wonderful cruising, full of history, great hiking, good people, and many islands/towns of interest. Probably the most compact amazingly picaresque area we have ever cruised. We spent a month+ wandering its islands.
We were in Iceland for a month+. Landing on the island of Vestmannyear was a wonderful introduction. We then moved on to Reyjkjavik. We were expecting multiple visitors and so did mostly land cruising (rental cars and Airbnb’s) with the guests which came our way. We were also waiting for the ice to clear on the east coast of Greenland; it was persistent. The land cruising was amazing, but we largely missed out cruising the island by water.
We arrived on the east coast of Greenland (5+ days) with Prince Christian Sound closed because of ice and, therefore got “stuck” in a protected fjord for almost a week while waiting for PCS to open. Our biggest worry was that it would not open and we would need to go around the tip of Greenland. In actuality, it was a great week of being in a magnificent fjord with lots of ice and nice walks on a magnificent coastline where few boats spend any time. However, this meant we had to give the more populated SW coast of Greenland only 10 days or so, far too little time to appreciate the towns and people to the extent they deserve.
Leaving Greenland was impressively harrowing as fog set in and then nightfall obscured the many icebergs about. This was the only time I was concerned to have a fiberglass boat. Many might have hove-to in the ice because of the poor visibility, but between the fog and night, we wondered whether we would ever get going again. Arrival in Newfoundland (again 5+ days) was a celebratory event and we have greatly enjoyed the months we have spent cruising the Canadian Maritimes over 2 seasons.

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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Michel Tabusse
Posts: 6


22 days ago
Michel Tabusse
Posts: 6
Hi Bill,
Thanks for your reply. I will follow you next summer, as well as this thread. If you happen to maintain a blog/website/FB page, etc ., I'd be happy to update my list of favorite links.
Keep in touch, Michel / michel@velvet2.fr, www.velvet2.fr
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Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 792


23 days ago
Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 792
Bill
In 2018 PCS opened in June and stayed open. We were with Dick in 2017 and were the first boats to enter (August 6th). So yes keep your plans fluid.

A lot of people make for Hofn but if you are going anti-clockwise then Seydisfjordur is the better landfall in my view. Much safer harbour to approach if the weather blows up.

I think we are seeing you at our place on the West Coast of Scotland in May? Looking forward to it.

Simon

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Simon Currin
S/V Shimshal simon@medex.org.uk
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Dick
Posts: 361


23 days ago
Dick
Posts: 361
Hi Bill,
Sounds like a good plan with, perhaps, the going through PCS in mid-July: my sense is that you can start to plan to go through PCS with some degree of certainty only in Aug. Before that: sometimes yes, often no. Simon may have a better historical sense of this.
In 2017 it was open for a very short period in July and then closed up again. We left Iceland hoping it would open, but it did not and we anchored in a fjord. It was not until Aug 6th when we left our anchorage of almost a week 30+nm north of the entrance to PCS. With Shimshal, we went to the entrance with the idea that if it was closed, we would go around the tip and to the west side of GL, something we were loathe to do. We did not have to: with shift-ing and shimmy-ing around a lot of ice we made our way in and once past the entrance, there was still a lot of ice and icebergs about, but we were mot in any danger of being closed in or of proceeding.
I am writing up more details which will be available in the future.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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WilliamStrassberg
Posts: 2


23 days ago
Good day Dick and SImon, and hello Michel.

Michel, I am planning to travel the route you posted this summer, 2019. Plan for now is to sail from Carrickfergus, NI through Hebrides to Stornaway, departing around May 10th. Around the the end of May head to Faroes and after some time exploring the Faroes, I hope to arrive in Iceland somewhere around second week of June planning landfall on the west coast north of Hofn. Then sail anti-clockwise around the north coast to Isafjurder. After 7-14 days there, depart for Prins Christian Sund (PCS), Greenland. I have understood that the entry to PCS is "usually" open around 15th July, so that is my (flexible) target arrival date. I hope for 2 weeks in Greenland before heading south when I will try to return to my home port in Maine before end of August.

Let's keep in touch.

Best regards,

Bill Strassberg
Visions of Johanna
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Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 792


1/22/2019
Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 792
Michael
Here is the link I wrote up for the Forum on the Viking Passage: https://forum.oceancruisingclub.org/topic2148-the-viking-route.aspx
There are links on the OCC’s Cruising information Map to all of the anchorages we used in Iceland Greenland and Labrador.

Do come back to me with any queries.

Timing is determined by ice which is highly variable but my post contains links to all the various ice information websites which also contain decades of previous ice archives should get a feeling for the variability. In 2017 we couldn’t get into Prins Christian Sund from the east until early August whereas in 2018 boats were transiting in June!
Simon

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Simon Currin
S/V Shimshal simon@medex.org.uk
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Dick
Posts: 361


1/22/2019
Dick
Posts: 361
Will do Michel,
I am writing up my notes relevant to making safe passage for another boat considering this route and will include you/OCC Forum when done. Please write me (Alchemy128(at)gmail.com) for log/letters of more general comments which might be of interest. Dick

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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Michel Tabusse
Posts: 6


1/22/2019
Michel Tabusse
Posts: 6
Hi Simon, hi Dick,
We are considering a westbound North Atlantic passage (Scotland/Feroe/Iceland/Greenland/Newfoundland) in summer 2020. Shorthanded (2 persons aboard). Are there any navigation notes that you would like to share ? Relevant blogs maybe ? I'm primarily looking for recommended dates, routes, where to rest, etc ...
Thank you,
Michel, sv Velvet
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Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 792


5/7/2015
Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 792
Dick our dates are constrained by work but here they are:
Ullapool to Faroe 's June 20th to July 5th 2015
Faroe to Reykjavik July 20th to August 16th 2015
We have SSB but no modem so will access ice reports via Iridium GO
Simon

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Simon Currin
S/V Shimshal simon@medex.org.uk
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Dick
Posts: 361


5/7/2015
Dick
Posts: 361
Simon,
Thanks for getting back to me.
Perhaps we will catch up with you in 2016 in Iceland or Greenland.
Is it early or late June you look to get to Faroe from mainland Scotland?
And when leave Faroe to go around Iceland?
At what point will you start to get ice reports? And how are you planning to get them?
Enough for now. Thanks for your thoughts, Dick

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 792


5/7/2015
Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 792
Dick,
Sally and I are starting on this route next week but we plan to take at least 2 seasons over it and have already booked a winter berth in Reykjavik. So next week we sail to Ullapool where we will leave the boat for a month (returning to work). Then in June we sail to Torshafn in the Faroe 's where we leave the boat again. In July / August we go anticlockwise around Icleand to our winter the berth.

In 2016 we will go onto Greenland.

Do let us know how your plans develop.

Simon

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Simon Currin
S/V Shimshal simon@medex.org.uk
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Dick
Posts: 361


5/7/2015
Dick
Posts: 361
My wife and are planning to return to North America (currently in Lerwick) in a couple of seasons and are thinking that a north route has real interest and possibilities. I would like to start a conversation here with anyone with experience/knowledge of these waters and islands as a beginning to data collection on the sorts of challenges to be prepared for.
Thanks, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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