Day 4, Arrival in Svalbard

1615Z 05JUL24, Day 4, arrival in Hornsund, Spitsbergen, Svalbard!

Current Position: 76 56N / 015 52E anchored in Gåshamna Bay, Hornsund
10.25 hour progress: 59nm at 5.8kts avg SOG

Passage Summary
475 nautical miles sailed
3 days 10.25hours (82.25 hours)
5.8 knots average speed over ground
5.7 hours of engine time
Casualties: none!

Day 4 started on the engine as we moved to the other side of the wind line and fought against a little adverse current. At 0700Z the engine was off and we were sailing in 18kts of breeze.

We were soon sailing with 2 reefs in the main but on an actual reach at 080 deg AWA! As the morning went on we were able to fall off a bit more and the winds piped up a touch gusting to 25kts or so. It was the nicest sailing of the passage.

Just before 4pm local we were turning towards Hornsund and the wind dropped. We turned on the engine and brought in the sails as we motored for the next couple of hours to our anchorage. The winds blew out of the fjord at 15+kts and there seemed to be an adverse current as well to slow our progress for the last few miles.

As we motored into our anchorage, a whale dove under the boat just to say hello before disappearing into the fjord. At 6:20 local we were anchor down in Gåshamna Bay, engine secured and congratulating each other for our arrival.

The last day was overcast but we did pass through a pod of whales - probably Sei whales - which added to the excitement of the day. We also saw more pods of dolphins that hung with us and played in our wake for a bit.

Ready to be settled, potatoes were already roasting when we entered the anchorage, and the rest of the fixings were ready to go. As soon as the anchor was down, the chimney went up for the heater and the boat quickly warmed. We enjoyed a steak and potato dinner and were all soon to sleep for the night. Since then we have been busy exploring and moving around. Thanks for following along and we will post more to Facebook and Instagram.

Day 3, Norway to Svalbard

0600Z 04JUL24, Day 3, Norway to Svalbard. The bashing to windward in the gray continued. Down to about 55nm to go! We did see a sliver of blue sky yesterday evening.

Current Position: 76 02N / 014 33E
24 hour progress: 126nm, 5.3kts avg SOG, approximately 55nm to Vestvika, Svalbard.

Day 3 was pretty uneventful. We have all settled into the passage. None of us are really fans of short passages - just as you hit your stride you arrive. Daxton was ready to be there halfway through day 3 and complaining accordingly.

We continued to sail as close to the wind as we could. The winds and seas calmed throughout the morning and we slowly shook out reefs. First the genoa, then 1 reef in the main. By the evening we had full sails and were sailing close hauled.

The weather forecasts showed we would have to cross another shift in winds. We waited for the winds to move to the north and then we tacked to the east just before midnight. We sailed close hauled in light winds sometimes even pointing directly towards Vestvika. The winds piped up to 15kts and we added a reef to the main. The winds bounced around between 10-15kts as we waited for them to shift back to the east.

As day 3 came to a close we had the engine on and were fighting a little current as we motor sailed, waiting for the winds to finish moving to the east.

We have seen pods of dolphins and a good number of birds. Excitement is high as we anticipate landfall.

Elephant is also doing well. They seem to be slightly ahead of us. Perhaps we will end up in an anchorage together later.

Day 2, Norway to Svalbard

0600Z 03JUL24, Day 2, Norway to Svalbard. 24 hours of sunlight has been 24 hours of gray. It doesn't get dark but it certainly hasn't been sunny. Occasionally it rained a bit to add to the dreariness. The bashing to windward continues.

Current Position: 74 10N / 014 20E
24 hour progress: 147nm, 6.1kts avg SOG, approximately 165nm to Vestvika, Svalbard.

In the late morning, the winds veered to come from the ENE and our course turned north as we stayed close hauled. We have been bashing along as close to the wind as we can - more when the waves are less and less when the waves are more. The winds picked up around mid-day and we added 2 reefs to the main. We also added and later removed a reef to the genoa as the winds fluctuated during the day.

Overnight the winds were about 20kts with gusts up to 25kts. The seas grew to about 2 meters. As the wind picked up in the late evening hours, a reef was added back to the genoa.

None of this is especially bad but it isn't very comfortable either. We would much prefer to be reaching then this constantly heeled over and pounding into the seas.

We expect it all to calm down throughout day 3 and will likely run out of wind or have to tack later today. Looking good for an arrival sometime on the 4th.

Once the winds moved around to the east we continued to point as high as we could while SAS3 pointed more directly to Longyearbyen. They fell off of our AIS coverage around mid-day between their higher speeds and the separation from our courses.

We continue to chat with Elephant on our Iridium. They are east of us and doing well. They reported that they had seen 6 orcas the previous day. Just as we were reading that Daxton came up to check on what he could eat and looked behind the boat and saw a large fin right behind us. It was a little disconcerting. We all rushed to look but the fin was soon in the surf, well behind us. Only Daxton and Megan really saw it well. We figure it was probably an orca checking out our Watt&Sea hydrogenerator. We know it makes noise under the water and have seen dolphins check it out before. This fin was bigger than a dolphin's and the only other whales that would likely interact with fins like that would be orcas or maybe pilot whales. Anyway, it was exciting to see some sea life other than birds!

Day 1, Norway to Svalbard

0600Z 02JUL24, Day 1, Norway to Svalbard. It was a great month and a half in Norway and now it is time to continue north to find some cold and ice.

Current Position: 71 51N / 015 57E
24 hour progress: 140nm, 5.8kts avg SOG, approximately 305nm to Vestvika, Svalbard.

We got underway at 0800 local from a lovely anchorage in Slettnes. We motored out of the bay and clear of the islands and were sailing by 0915.

Our friends on L'Éléphant, a Boréal 47.2, started a bit after us and were anchored a little south of us. This gave us a 10nm head start to them. There is also a Belgian Garcia 63 OC called SAS3 who left just after Elephant.

We started sailing north on a close reach with 15-18kts of wind, 1 reef in the main and full genoa. The winds off of Norway picked up a bit and we soon added a 2nd reef. The winds were up over 20kts for about 2 hours. Just after noon local the winds were back down around 15kts and we shook out a reef, back to 1 reef in the main, full genoa and sailing close to the wind.

By the afternoon the winds were around 10kts and we were sailing with full main and genoa. By early evening the wind moved more northerly and our course turned more west than we would have liked. The weather forecasts showed us either getting a wind hole or winds from the north. We appeared to have ended up on the west side of the wind hole. This meant that we could keep sailing but our course was sometimes 90 degrees off of rhumbline.

In the light winds we tightened in all the sails and stayed pointed as close to the wind as we could. The forecasts all say the wind should turn to the east and fill in so we hope to be making a more direct and northerly course in day 2.

We have kept SAS on our AIS for the whole 24 hours. They passed us around 2300Z and continue to sail 1-1.5kts faster than us. We are both pointing as high as we can and making the most of the headwinds.

We chatted with Elephant on our Iridium and they motored a little over night as they seem to have been more east and found the wind hole allowing them to move north close to rhumbline. They are slightly north of us as we all look for the winds to move easterly.

Yesterday started off sunny and the sea state has been gentle with the light winds. However, it became foggy and gray overnight. Now the fog has lifted but everything is still shades of gray. It's also getting colder outside and inside the boat.

We saw lots and lots of seabirds for the first 12-18 hours but they are now less common. All is well aboard and the boys each did an overnight watch. Everyone is excited about getting to Svalbard.

0900Z 13MAY24, arrival in Ålesund, Norway! We enjoyed a quick and easy passage from Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland to Ålesund, Norway. 

We arrived in the morning on a beautiful day. We completed all of our check-in business, walked around, talked to fellow sailors and ate a celebratory meal ashore. 

Passage Summary:

258 nautical miles sailed

1 day 15 hours (38.7 hours)

6.7 knots average speed over ground

8 hours of engine time

We had hoped to explore the Shetland Islands for a few more days; however, watching the weather we decided we needed to get going to Norway. It seems we were not the only ones with this idea as the port of Ålesund had a large number of arrivals throughout Monday. 

Leaving Scotland

We had a great, quick sail across. We left Lerwick on Saturday evening at 1815Z with the north going tide. It took 3 tries to move to sailing as the winds seemed to establish only to drop to less than 5 knots. By 1945Z, we were sailing a close reach on starboard tack in 15kts of breeze and clear of the land effects. By 2130Z we were seeing 20+kts and put 2 reefs in the main for the night. 

2100Z, Saturday Sunset

The night passed smoothly, with the skies never getting completely dark. Unfortunately, there were no northern lights sighted by Zephyros even though the solar storm was still supposed to be strong. 

2300Z Sky

0330Z Sky sun already rising

The morning saw the winds build a bit and we added a reef to the genoa. We were moving well with 25+/- kts and a starboard tack, beam reach. The waves built and we passed the numerous oil platforms and a big wind farm. 

Oil Platform

Wind Farm

Fast sailing

By the afternoon, we were still on a beam reach and back to a full genoa with winds around 22kts. By evening, we were still on a beam reach and shaking out a reef in the main, with winds around 18kts.

Before sunset we could see land and had limited cell connectivity with around 70nm left to get to Ålesund. Overnight we shook out the last reef in the main and did our best to keep sailing. By 0200Z, the winds were down and didn’t seem to want to return so the engine came on. 

Sunday Sunset 2330Z

2330Z view towards Norway with land in sight & cellphone service

The last 7 hours were all motoring and the seas flattened out to absolutely flat. We enjoyed the morning in sunshine and took in the Norwegian coast line as we motored along to our port of entry. 

Motor sailing, morning light & Norway welcome (0415Z)

Svinøy Lighthouse

Mountains with snow!

Flat water and beautiful weather

At 0900Z we were tied up to a finger pier in downtown Ålesund. There is another Boreal here - a 47.2 named L’elephant with an Aussie and an American on board. 

Walking around Ålesund

Skyline to the south

Harbor entry - the light building is a honeymoon suite!

Harbor scene

Harbor filling ups with new arrivals & Friday National Day Holiday

Day 10, Arrival in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland!

0930Z 10AUG23, Day 10, Arrival in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland! We were alongside at 0830Z and consider our passage to be 9 days and 22.5 hour as the last half hour was in the marina getting set up and parked. 

Current Position: 51 42N / 008 31W Kinsale Yacht Club Marina

22.5 hour progress: 137nm, 6.1kts avg SOG. Our fastest day!

Passage Summary

1,229 nautical miles sailed

9 days 22.5hours (238.5 hours)

5.15 knots average speed over ground

31 hours of engine time

1 fish, a small Mahi Mahi

Casualties: none! 

Our last day was our quickest sailing of the passage. We were close reaching on a starboard tack and moving along well, pointed directly at Kinsale. By 10am the winds had built enough to put a second reef in the main. 

Around lunch time we experimented with sail configurations as we expected the winds to build some more and we were wondering if we could get a better (ie comfortable and fast) setup. 

We ended up with the 2 reefs in the main and 2 in the genoa. We really didn't need to sail as fast as possible as the goal was to arrive after sunrise. 

By mid afternoon we put a 3rd reef in the main. We were starting to see higher gusts and we still expected the winds to build some more. Soon the wind dropped so we rolled out a reef from the genoa. This in turn brought more wind again and we eventually put the second reef back in the genoa. This continued for the late afternoon hours into the evening. 

We settled on a conservative configuration as the boys took their watches. They both did a great job. They adjusted course as needed to keep us pointing directly to Kinsale and watched to see if the winds would build. 

By the overnight watch it seemed the winds really weren't going to build any more and a reef came back out of the genoa. Zephyros was getting pushed around by a bit of current as we made our way along the South Eastern Irish coast. 

Just before 6:30UTC (7:30am local) we were rounding the Old Head of Kinsale which was barely visible in the fog! Good thing we waited to make landfall during the day! We were grateful that GPS and electronic charting is so good but also used the radar as we piloted our way in. 

We fell off around the corner and had a nice sail up towards the head of the river. We then turned on the engine, rolled in the sails and brought down the main. We then turned up the river and motored in to Kinsale. 

There was quite a bit of current bringing us in and we quickly moved past the two old forts that guarded the town. The fog had lifted, a little. So we could see enough to make it down the river and to the marina. We ended up alongside in a visitor berth and were very happy that the Kinsale Yacht Club was able to find space for us. 

We were warmly greeted and welcomed. Then we set to cleaning and organizing. Soon customs arrived and did their checks and inspections. Then Jon went to check in with the marina and the harbor master. 

We made appointments with the Department of Agricultural to check-in Poseidon and called immigration to see whether they needed to see us. As we are US citizens they did want to see us and stamp us in so an appointment was made to meet them at the police station that evening. 

We then welcomed Saga, catching their lines. They arrived about 2.5 hours after us and were given the berth right in front of us. 

After that it was showers and off to a lunch of fish and chips. Then the check-in appointments and a walk around town to pick up dinner and have a pint. Whew! A busy, busy day. 

(And then Friday featured a little sun so we were out exploring and this post is even later. Thanks for following along!)

Day 9, Azores to Ireland

0930Z 09AUG23, Day 9, Azores to Ireland. Another good day of sailing followed by a slow night of sailing. We are in the home stretch and the winds are picking up for Zephyros to kick up her heels and fly in.

Current Position: 50 24N / 011 20W
24 hour progress: 120nm, 5kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 1092nm, approximately 130nm to Kinsale.

We again sailed wing-on-wing throughout the day with the genoa poled out to our starboard side and the full main off to port. We made good speed with a good course.

We had a nice, relaxed day. We listened to an audiobook, looked at weather and made pizza. The downwind ride was comfortable and everyone's sea legs were well established.

We checked in with Saga a couple of times during the day. We were slowly clawing back the miles that we had given up as we both ran straight to the same point and compared mileage remaining.

Our setup was perfect this time with the main on the side it should be for the way the winds would change. As the wind moved towards the south we could keep adjusting our course to stay on rhumb line and the poled out genoa kept working.

The weather suggested we would want to bring down the pole around midnight or 1am. On Ronan's watch the wind started moving to the south and he was needing to steer around 135AWA so he woke up Megan (she was on standby watch). She watched it for a bit and decided to get Jon up at midnight. The three of us got the pole down and set up a broad reach on a starboard tack while a few dolphins chased us. Of course the winds moved back towards the west and our broad reach had us pointed a bit more easterly.

No matter. The winds were light and we were making around 4kts so it was no problem to give up a few degrees waiting for the winds to actually shift. As expected they did come around in the next hours and we sailed a comfortable broad reach in light winds for a few hours.

As the sun rose the wind continued to move around to the south bringing us to a beam reach. The course and sails were adjusted with the wind. The winds were still light but we expected that and were happy to be moving along under sail.

The winds began picking up around 7 and by 7:30am we had a reef in the main and Zephyros was gaining her stride on a close reach with fresh winds and a flat sea.

Our morning check-in with Saga showed that we had regained the lead. We are 8nm closer to Kinsale and sailing faster now. Apparently we had done well to get a bit more north as we had winds to sail overnight while they struggled to keep moving.

Now we both will work to balance our speed for the right arrival times. We are both aiming to be outside Kinsale at first light. The weather looks like we should have gusts up to 25kts and a close reach for the rest of the way. This is weather that Zephyros moves well in.

There are lots of dolphins in these waters. Delectable food must be abundant for them. We haven't caught any more fish, but we have enjoyed watching the dolphins play around the boat. Sometimes we see the large pods jumping out of the water as they race towards us from far away. Other times they just suddenly appear alongside. It's thrilling to watch them effortlessly fly through the water. Every so often one jumps out of the water while alongside as if they just want a better look at Zephyros.

Less than a day to go. We are finally doing the sailing that Zephyros likes to do. We are ready to end on a good note and excited for landfall. Fish 'n chips or something with fresh greens for lunch tomorrow?