09 - Place of bears
Wednesday 30th July
It was tough work getting to Cape Farewell yesterday, and even tougher trying to round it in order to head out across the Denmark Strait towards Iceland. The waves were large, angry, and - crucially - they were breaking. When they slammed into the boat, everything shook. After a brief try at continuing onwards into deeper water saw no improvement, we made the tough decision to turn back. Not to have done so would have risked damaging boat and crew. We learn later that the wind speed at Cape Farewell had been clocked at 30 metres/second, which in real money is 58 knots, 67 mph, or, if you're a fan of the Beaufort scale, Storm Force 11.
On the way, we'd offered to lend our eyes to the search for a French yacht with four people aboard, which had not been heard from for more than 24 hours. We could hear the Danish Air Force spotter plane on our radio, making repeated calls for the yacht to respond. We're relieved to learn subsequently that the boat made it to safety, and the Danish Navy thanks us for our efforts.
As for us, we spend the night in Nanortalik at the Hotel Kap Farvel. Nanortalik is Greenland's most southerly town, and the name means "place of bears" on account of the regular visits from polar bears which drift in every spring on ice floes.
We may be here for a day or so, as we now have to wait for the storm to start to blow down. Our chances of making the crossing within our target elapsed time - in other words, at sea plus refuelling times - of 100 hours have gone, but we hope we won't be far off with sea time - taking the sum total times of the individual legs. We covered the 810 miles from St John's to Nanortalik in 43 hours 10 minutes, at an average speed of 18.76 knots.
Ultimately, we only need to make it across to Scotland in any time less than the 248 hours 47 minutes of our May 2001 UIM world record transatlantic from New York to Lizard Point (219 hours 47 minutes at sea), and we'll be more than happy.
© 2003 Clive Tully
Update transmitted by Stratos Iridium satellite phone.