Arctic!

By this time tomorrow I will have crossed over into the Arctic circle and will be sailing in the Arctic ocean. I’ve made some great time since my last entry. I got very lucky and have had several days of 20-25kt southerlies. I was throughly enjoying surfing at 7-9kts down the face of the following seas. I had two days where I made more then 140 miles in 24 hours. I also was pushing the boat hard trying to make up for lost time, which I think I accomplished.
The weather in general has been wet but the wind hasn’t gotten over 30kts in a week. A sail boat that was north of me got hit by a bad storm and had to go to Greenland for repairs. I hope they can get there boat fixed so they can make it through the NW passage in time. Thats the way sailing goes – two boat taking the same route maybe four days apart can have completely different passages. I personally think that the Labrador Sea is the most dismal body of water I’ve ever sailed. I’ve had much worse weather in other bodies of water, but the daily gloom can effect your moral. Funny enough, I’m going to miss this dismal place because its become my dismal place. I’ve bonded with the Labrador sea, different bodies of water seem to have different personalities. The Labrador reminds me of a grumpy old man.
I saw my first icebergs yesterday. It was one of the best days of the trip so far, I had blue skies and light southerlies, so I put up my big asymmetrical sail and around the time I finally got the big sail to behave properly I saw my first iceberg. Soon after I sailed past an iceberg the size of a mountain. I knew they could get big, but not that big. It must have been 600-800 feet tall with several dramatically shaped peaks. It’s diameter must have been a couple miles. I saw another dozen icebergs of all shapes and sizes and decided to head east again to get away from the ice. I was skirting the southern edge of a huge ice pack that goes on for hundreds of miles. The only way around the ice is to sail close to greenland for another 300-500 miles then turn west and head for the NW passage. Seeing the ice was great but I didn’t get much sleep last night. I kept worrying about hitting a berg. The nice thing is that I’ve sailed so far north that the sun has stopped setting so 2am looks a lot like 2pm. So at least I can see the ice, except for when there is fog of course. Right now I can look off into the distance and see the dramatically desolate coast of greenland. Even though I’m 25 miles offshore I can see the snow covered mountains and I’m starting to feel like I’ve sailed into a different dimension. I’m very happy to finally be in the Arctic and I hope the ice pack in Baffin Bay clears up so I can start heading west.

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9 Responses to Arctic!

  1. Beth Hall says:

    Hey there Matt. Just wanted to say hi and tell you how proud I am of you.

  2. simon says:

    Labrador Sea……Grumpy Old Man…..Hmmm

  3. Grandpa and Gramie says:

    Hi, We have been following your route each day! This is so very exciting! Hope you are warm enough, and are taking lots of pictures! We love you.
    Grandpa/Gramie

  4. Kate Bird says:

    From here in the Sea of Cortez, we wish you fair winds and following seas – and all other good wishes and thoughts!

  5. Julia says:

    Hey, Matt, I’ll always remember what you said when I turned down an invitation to go across the Atlantic (I was one of many you asked) citing a boyfriend and fear for your safety, you said “Cease to persuade, my loving Julia: home-keeping youth have ever homely wits. Were’t not affection chains thy tender days to the sweet glances of thy honour’d love, I rather would entreat thy company to see the wonders of the world abroad, than, living dully sluggardized at home, wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness.”

    Hmm . . it was that, or maybe you said, “Whatever. It’s gonna be fun!”

    Bidh an t-ubhal as fheàrr air a’mheangan as àirde!

    Lager & Blood!

  6. Andy says:

    Hello mate! I’m sitting on my boat in the Bra D’or Lakes, sipping on some vino and feeling jealous about your trip. We’re off to Newfoundland on Tuesday, then St. Pierre, and hope to set out across to Ireland within the week. Nova Scotia is incredible, we love it up here, the friendliest people on Earth. Your story is in the current issue of Yachting World, August 2011, so I’ll try to find a digital copy to send you. Freaking cool for both of us – you’re on the same pages as Robin Knox-Johnston! Icebergs dude, must be a dream. Can’t wait to chat with you on your return.

    +Andy

  7. Marlowe Macintyre says:

    Matt just passed Illuisat, Greenland. Here is a wonderful video that helps us picture what it is like up there at this time of the year.

  8. Marlowe Macintyre says:

    Here is the video: http://youtu.be/teqobJi03-A

  9. Karol Harlan says:

    Hi Matt,
    Your iceberg photo is the image of a man’s face profile topped with a square-topped cap similar to a helmet from days of old. I’d like to see your profile and see if the iceberg is actually mirror-imaging you!!
    Thanks for sharing the photo. Continue on in safety…
    Karol Harlan

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