Our plan was to make a summer run all the way through the Northwest Passage via a Suzuki-powered 36’ RIB—but ice and weather were strongly against us as we waited in Iceland to try a run to Greenland.
Position: 64°09'N 21°56'W – Reykjavik
Again and again, I spread the charts on the table with my gaze fixed on the shores of Greenland. Waiting for the crew to arrive, I plotted courses, studied the weather and ice accumulations while anxiously I was looking for our chance.
If we had to delete Tasiilaq as a destination, just 409 nautical miles from Reykjavik, the only alternative was to approach Prince Christian Sound - a 50 nautical mile fjord - in southern Greenland and through it to the west coast of Greenland, to Nanortalik. It would be 750 nautical miles if which 650 would be open ocean.
Our fuel range was not enough, however.
Developing Plan B
The good news was that Prince Christian Sound on the southern tip of Greenland, was free of ice. I began to calculate the fuel we would need and look for the appropriate extra tanks to load on board. The maximum amount of fuel we could have on board was 2,900 litres. But calculating an average consumption of 4 to 4.5 liters per mile at planning speeds, would leave us far short of destination.
There was only one solution. I knew very well, from the test period, that even with 3 tons of weight the consumption varied from 2.7 to 3 liters per mile only when our speed did not exceed 8 knots. It would be a long ride at displacement speeds.
So I started the calculations.
Twenty-four hours at 8 knots means 192 miles and about 600 liters of fuel. The remaining 450 miles to Prince Christian Sound could be covered in another 15 hours of running, at speeds of 28 to 32 knots and an average consumption of 4 liters per mile. So, we would still have 500 liters left for the last 100 miles to Nanortalik where we could refuel.
However, for the above to apply, we needed two days with good weather conditions or at least the first 24 hours with good seas so that we could travel at 8 knots with the calculated fuel consumption.
The risk was great. However, there was no other option.
The corresponding weather window I was looking for appeared on July 21st. As soon as the crew arrived we were to set sail. Everything is fluid but there was hope now.
Every day at dawn, the first thing I did was study charts, winds, ice, fuel… hoping but also working on redundancy for our safety, in case something went wrong. Then, I would go to work on the boat at the Rafnar shipyard until noon and in the afternoon together with Vangelis and Nikolas we would organize inland excursions.
I really don't know what problems we would have had without the huge contribution of both the people of Rafnar who provided us with what we needed for the boat and our friends who made sure we had a good time softening and compensating our very bad mood.
Words are too few to express my profound gratitude.
Wandering in the Icelandic Hinterland
Iceland is the land of geysers, with incredible geological formations, volcanoes, waterfalls, lakes, and glaciers, home to many major movie productions. It is a fascinating destination with a priceless treasure of diverse natural landscapes that take your breath away, completely different from each other, which take many days to visit.
First of all, we wandered around the main streets of Reykjavik to soak up some of the wonderful aura of this small colorful city. Magnificent buildings, modern architecture, beautiful streets, unique neighborhoods and relaxed rhythms welcomed us. It may be considered one of the most expensive cities in Europe, but the quality of life it offers is exemplary.
We took the main road that leads to the impressive Hallgrimur Lutheran Church, whose bell tower reaches a height of 74.5m and seems to pierce the sky. It is an attraction of unique architecture that dominates imposingly from every point as it is the tallest building in the city.
We also visited Gullfoss, one of the most fascinating landscapes in the country and perhaps the most impressive of Iceland's many waterfalls. Its waters fall on two levels from a total height of 21 meters to end up in the equally impressive gorge of the Hvita River which is several dozen meters high. Defying the spray of water that shoots several meters away, we got very close feeling the enormous momentum and incredible dynamics of its waters.
The Blue Lake is a unique geothermal spa in the south-west of Iceland a few kilometers away from Reykjavik. It is a heavenly place, with incredible shades of water resulting from silicon dioxide in the water. It attracts millions of tourists. The hotel unit in the center of the lake is perfectly in harmony with the environment and offers unique experiences to its guests.
Land of Geysers
Iceland is the country of hundreds of geysers, the largest number in Europe. Geysers are a type of hot springs that periodically "explode" and shoot out columns of hot water. All of the world's spouting hot springs are named after Geysir in Iceland - in all languages other than Icelandic, the word “geysir” or “geyser” names the phenomenon.
You just have to wait a few minutes to admire the water explosions that create steam jets that reach a great height.
That's how the days in Iceland went.
On the one hand, we enjoyed wonderful moments with local friends, who took care to relieve my thoughts with visits to wonderful places in Iceland. On the other hand, there were incredible moments of anxiety and tension because my mind was always trying to find a way to continue the mission to the other side.
Thus, the long-awaited 20th of July arrived.
In the morning we put the RIB on the water and I filled up with fuel from the only gas station in Reykjavik located on the dock.
After the main tanks of the boat were filled, I started to fill the flexible tanks, 2,900 liters (766 gal) in total. In the afternoon Cris and Carlos came to the marina, direct from the airport. They immediately set to work and undertook to continue the thankless and tiresome supply of flexible tanks.
Everything was ready for the great passage...
Monday – 650 NMiles Across Open Ocean
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