The Pocket -- Arctic Bay

After 4 days and a thousand miles of heading North, we turn West, leaving Baffin Bay and Davis Straits behind.  Greenland is far to the east and well below the horizon.  With that simple manoeuvre, that port hand turn, we enter Lancaster Sound, the gateway to the Northwest Passage, the fabled route connecting the North Atlantic Ocean with the Beaufort Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

 A day earlier, our course brought us close to the coast of Bylot Island. Low cloud obscured the sun and turned the water a steel grey.  The snow-capped mountains of the Byam Martin Range stood sentinel over winding glaciers, whose frozen tendrils cut giant swaths across exposed rocky soil.  Mud and debris pushed towards the sea.  Some of the lower peaks had no snow, the sharp ridge lines resembling the spines of half-buried ancient lizards. 

 As soon as we turn into Lancaster Sound, the landscape changes dramatically.   Sheer cliffs with exposed sedimentary lines guard the deep channel.  There is no snow.  The land is red, fractured, the color I imagine Mars would be.  There are no trees.  The water is flat, a mirror.  We move at ten knots but it feels like we are standing still.  I hear the engine, I see the wake curling away from the hull, but the scale of our surroundings swallows our movements.

 From Lancaster Sound we turn south into Admiralty Inlet and from there into the snug anchorage of Arctic Bay in the Nunavut Territory.  Ethan opens the brake, and the anchor rumbles out of the hawsepipe, breaking a sunlit but eerie silence.  The hamlet of Arctic Bay – or Ikpiarjuk, meaning “the pocket” in the Inuit language -- becomes our first port of call since casting off the lines from Nuuk.  Though the journey is well underway, our expedition begins here.  We will prep, refuel and in 48 hrs meet the boss and his friends and our expedition leader, all arriving by air from America. 

 It is good we have a little time here.  There is a population of 900 and so far I have only met the two policemen (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), the grocery store cashier, the town comptroller, the gift shop clerk and the Mayor, whose name is Frank.  “Our Prime Minister was here yesterday,” he said proudly as we climbed into his pick-up.  He had a toothpick balanced in the corner of his mouth. 

 “Aw just push that stuff aside.”  A drill, a hat and one shoe were on the passenger seat. 

“And how was the Prime Minister received?”  I asked. 

“He knows how to work a crowd.  They loved him.  He met with our oldest village elder, Qaapik Attagutsiak, spent time with the school kids, even took a hike.  I think he drove his own people crazy, not following the time schedule.”

 “Do you see that shoe?” he said pointing to a black dress shoe squeezed into a zippered felt pouch.  “These are my best dress shoes, I wore them for his visit but I’ve lost one.  It’s gotta be in here somewhere.”

 According to several Canadian newspapers that reported on the visit, Mr. Trudeau announced the creation of a new marine protected area now known as the Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area, and a second area on the northwest coast of Ellesmere Island that will be known as the Tuvaijuittuq Marine Protected Area. Tuvaijuittuq means “the place where the ice never melts.”  Together, these reserves cover more than 427,000 square kilometres, an area larger than Newfoundland and Labrador combined.

 Mayor Frank told me that of the 900 inhabitants, almost 50% were children under 16.  The Rosehearty crew were fortunate enough to meet a few of them – toddler to teen age -- who came to greet us when we first tendered in.   They stayed with us the entire day as we filled fuel bladders and transferred them to Rosehearty for pumping on board.  They played in the tenders, tried on life jackets, drank from our water flasks, looked through our cameras, showed us their phones, and asked lots of questions: Boxy and I told one young teen we were from New Zealand.  “What do you have in New Zealand that we don’t have here?”  he asked.

 “Trees, I said, lots and lots of trees.”

“I would be afraid,” he replied. 

“Why?” I queried. 

“Because of the ghosts that hide in them.” 

“These are friendly trees, with no ghosts,” Boxy reassured the lad.  The boy did not seem convinced.

“We have Kiwi birds,”  Boxy continued, “They come out at night, they can’t fly.” 

“They must be easy to shoot; are they good to eat?” retorted our companion.

 The older kids acted tough, asking for beer or vodka.  The younger ones begged for rides in the tender.  One young man showed me a photo on his phone of him standing next to a seven and a half foot Narwhal tusk he had just cut out of mature adult male he had shot.  He asked me if I liked it, suggesting he could procure one for me too, provided I had the money.

 As we left the beach having completed our last fuel and provisioning run, I felt uneasy, balancing my preconceptions of this place and these people against the stark realities of what I actually saw.  Fortunately, I have another day to sort things out in this marvelous bay near the top of the world.


photo by Richard Smith

photo by Richard Smith

Photo by Richard Smith

Photo by Richard Smith

Photo by Richard Smith

Photo by Richard Smith

Photo by Jonathan Kline

Photo by Jonathan Kline

Photo by Peter Box

Photo by Peter Box

Back in Lancaster Sound

"Terra!" Comes the call from the flybridge. Far off to port, with icebergs
in the foreground, we spy the mountain ranges of Baffin and Bylot Islands,
the southern sentinels of Lancaster Sound. The snow-covered peaks, some
rising to almost two-thousand meters are clearly visible, even 50 miles off
shore. These islands are significant for geography fans and wildlife
enthusiasts: Baffin Island is the fifth largest island on earth and boasts
the largest lake of any island on our planet. Bylot Island is a bird
sanctuary with more than 35 migratory breeding species gathering by the
hundreds of thousands among the mountains, snowfields, and glaciers.

This puts us in the company of sea birds. Northern Fulmar, with their
stocky shoulders and fast wingbeats, cruise around Rosehearty, looking for
small fish and squid disturbed by our wake. They fly close enough for us to
see their naricorns, the name for their protruding nostrils, attached to
their upper bill. Richie, Boxy and Ethan, all armed with lightning shutter
speed cameras and long telephoto lenses, try to capture these birds as they
swoop and careen close to the surface. According to the Audubon Society
website, these Fulmar have at least two fascinating adaptations. For
defence, Fulmar produce a waxy stomach oil, which when ejected from their
mouths can mat the feathers and disable approaching predators. And because
of the large amounts of ocean water they ingest as they feed, Fulmar have
their own on board desalinators: a gland situated above the nasal passage
extracts the salt and pushes the nearly pure saline out of their nostrils.

We are also seeing large flocks of what I now know are Guillemots. When I
first saw these birds sitting in clusters on the water, I noticed that they
were not very efficient in flight, often needing rapid wing beats and a long
runway to get in to the air. I asked Kiwi Mark, if he knew what they were

"Aw yep," he insisted; "They're called Kanardlys."

I was impressed with his avian knowledge and did not take notice of Markus,
his watch partner, smothering a laugh in his cup of coffee. Kiwi Mark
continued, "They're called Kanardlys because they canardlyfly!"

Kanardlys or Guillemots, may not be great fliers but they are excellent
swimmers. As we approach the floating clusters, often, rather than scatter
to the air, these birds simply dive down, and "fly" underwater. Apparently,
young Guillemot get little flying practice. Nesting parents lay a single
egg on sheer cliff faces of places like Bylot Island in spring so that by
the start of summer, their young are ready to take to the ocean to hunt for
squid, fish and small crustaceans. The challenge is that in order to get
from the cliff edge to the sea, the young birds have to leap, as far away
from the edge as possible and use webbed feet and small wings to flap and
glide as best they can in to the sea. Many tumble in flight, bouncing off
rocks, on the way, their downy coats cushioning them from the knocks and
jolts, until they drop into a frigid, foamy sea.

"The water has dropped two degrees since yesterday," Ethan tells me as we
watch the birds dive under water out of our way. Ethan is working on his
Chief Office's ticket and as such is doing most of the passage plans and
nautical publication review under Markus and Captain Hutch's watchful eyes.
"It was 5c and now it's down to 3c. I guess it's all that cold water from
the Arctic Ocean, running out of Lancaster Sound. That's the way the water
moves this time of the year."

"Do you prefer warm water cruising like we did in Tahiti or cold water
sailing?" I ask him. He smiles faintly and reflects for a moment. "I love
being up here. The landscape is on steroids and the water, well with all
the sea life and the ice, it's just magic."


Photo by Richard Smith

Photo by Richard Smith

No Fog (for Now!)

Greenland disappeared very shortly after departure a couple of days ago, not
because the land had slipped below the horizon, but because the fog was so
thick that it swallowed up the coast. The blanket stayed on us for about 40
hrs with no sign of letting up. We sighted some ice bergs just as we were
leaving Nuuk but with the visibility down to less than a 100 meters for most
of our voyage thus far, we have not seen any since. We peer in to the
white, squint at the radars but so far, no sightings in what we know are
"bergy waters". Chris Dickson, during the 1993/94 Whitbread Race commented
that during the Southern Ocean leg, from New Zealand to Cape Horn, they
would see many icebergs during the day but none at night. He theorized that
they must all return to Antarctica once the evening sets in. In these
northern Arctic waters, the icebergs exhibit similar behaviour, retreating
back to shore when the fog gets too thick. Great peace of mind for those on

Our destination for this leg, Arctic Bay, is still 2 days away but now that
we are above the Arctic Circle, we have the midnight sun. Richard, who
shares the engineering role with Boxy, sailed with the yacht on the 2016
expedition; he told me yesterday that he has already contacted his friend in
Arctic Bay to be sure that a round of golf will be possible. Incredulous, I
said, "Golf?"

"You play on rocks and gravel," he explained with an Aussie twang, "and on
top of your drivers and wedges in the golf bag, there is the important club
the locals call the 'bear club.'"

"Is that for really long fairways?" I asked. He chuckled and showed me a
photo. "The bear club is a rifle, usually loaded with non-lethal rounds at
the front, and more deadly last-resort rounds at the back."

We sailed out of the blanket of fog a few hours ago. When I came up at
0300, I was greeted with a startling blue sky and the sun just above the
northern horizon. It had dipped but not set. Mark and Marcus were on
watch, buzzing over the views and the exceptional visibility. To port and
starboard were massive bergs seemingly fixed to the ocean floor but on the
move at about a knot, according to our plotter. Now that the fog has
lifted, it seems the ice bergs have come back out to sea.



Arctic Circle

Athletes seek medals, best times, or wins in the finals. Bluewater sailors
measure their successes in ocean miles, rounded capes, and imaginary lines
of latitude. Of the five major circles of latitude, the crossing of the
equator is the most celebrated, and on board all ships the crossing of this
line is usually accompanied by excruciating anticipation, pungent
concoctions mixed with glee, hilarious costumes and an appearance by Neptune
himself. The lesser known lines that circle the earth are the Tropic of
Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, and the two polar circles, the Arctic
and the Antarctic. Here on board Rosehearty for this expedition north,
most of the crew crossed 66 degrees north, the accepted line around the
globe designating the Arctic, during the yacht's 2016 voyage here. But
there are a few of us on board who have not and who, since departing
Greenland yesterday, have been keen to join the ranks of those polar
explorers who have journeyed here. Our chef for this adventure, Artur lives
in Tahiti and though he has logged many miles in the South Pacific, he has
never sailed in the high latitudes of the North Atlantic. "What a nice
change of scenery," he explained to me yesterday as he was dicing a
cucumber. "You know in Tahiti, for feesh I am always preparing Mahi Mahi,
Tuna, Wahoo, and then more Mahi Mahi, Tuna and Wahoo. This is my first time
being able to work with the cold water feesh -- Turbot, Halibut, Arctic
Char. So delicious." Cat crossed the Antarctic circle with Rosehearty
earlier this year but was not on board for the Arctic expedition of 2016.
"Coming from Durban," Cat explained in her smooth English Afrikaans accent,
"Ahh never dreamed in my laahf that I would sail to the Arctic and the
Antarctic in the same year." And though I have cruised the Aleutian Islands
in the North Pacific, and dipped to 60 degrees south while sailing in the
Southern Ocean I have never quite made it to this magic realm of 66 North or
higher. Though there will be no slops bucket nor any visit from Neptune
here today, the three new recruits still commemorated the occasion with a
photo and a big smile.


Photo By Renee

Photo By Renee


It is not often that the crew day off coincides with perfect weather, but
for the Roshearty team, in Nuuk, Greenland, after the passage from Newport,
the weather gods conspired to deliver that stunning day. A cloudless sky
presided over what locals described as their warmest day this year. As it
was also a Sunday, most of the community was out as well and Rosehearty's
dock was buzzing with adults and children, eager to see the white ship with
the two tall masts, surrounded by fishing boats unloading their catch and
small bulk carriers disgorging the contents of their holds. But we were not
the only attraction; a Danish Navy frigate, named Epsilon, was berthed at
another near by dock, with an open ship day for the local community. Some
of the Rosehearty crew joined hundreds of locals for a tour of the ship.
Boxy, one of our Chief Engineers, described the 140 sailors on board as most
gracious and the ship and its equipment, wildly impressive. Other crew went
on long walks in town or set out for nearby promontories with a view. Cat
and Hugo had somehow managed to procure a fresh baguette, a wedge of brie
and a pot of fig jam for a picnic. Lenka set out for the highest peak,
determined to reach the top and glimpse what lay beyond. Nuuk sits slightly
inland on the edge of the sea. To the east are the treeless rocky hills of
the main island, dotted with pools of melted ice; beyond that, the famous
Greenland ice sheet. To the west are hundreds of rocky island, also bare,
lining the edge of Davis Strait that patch of ocean that leads from the
Labrador Sea to Baffin Bay and the Canadian Arctic. Today, the Rosehearty
crew will cross Davis Strait. sailing north from Nuuk to Arctic Bay, an 1100
nm voyage that will bring us closer to the edge of the ice. And that
perfectly clear day that I described yesterday and that we had hoped for
today -- well, that has given way to a damp, soupy day of fog, light drizzle
and cold. But that has not quashed the spirits of those lucky enough to be
on this expedition; quite the opposite -- what the fog hides adds
excitement, challenge and purpose to this very special expedition and what
treasures it might reveal.

Jonathan Kline.

Photo by JK

Photo by JK

Photo By Lenka

Photo By Lenka

A Glimmer in Belle Isle

We had a decent Transit through Belle Isle Straits. There were (supposedly) 25+ Icebergs floating around in there but due to the restricted visibility we only saw 2. We have now exited and are heading North. Flybridge is now fully enclosed the heater is on and the sea Temp has dropped from 16c to 6c in the last 24 hours. The fog keeps it gloomy. However as We bade farewell to the Canadian coast the fog did lift and give us a glimmer of a horizon.


Dark O'clock Departure

Rosehearty slipped quietly out of Newport Shipyard and Newport Harbor at 0445 today. Sun just starting to warm the sky. A last quick look over the shoulder at a sleeping Goat Island and off. Ahead is 2,000nm to Nuuk Greenland. Clearing the shoals off Nantucket and Georges Banks, Along Nova Scotia to Cape Breton and up through Belle Isle. From there dodge a few Icebergs and on to Nuuk.



We wrapped up our New York trip, after watching the GP50’s racing. They are incredible machines, Catamarans on foils..updated from the last America’s Cup. We were front and center for this exhibition of sailing. From NYC we headed out under the Verazzano Bridge off to Block Island, Sadly the wind when it did arrive was too far aft to sail so We proceeded in to Anchor off the old harbor, Next up was over to Edgartown where we spent a couple of enjoyable days again with light winds. Finally back to Newport where our guests departed after a very short sail in 8 knots of wind..Peaceful though. Recently, We have spent the last week, getting Rosehearty back into cold weather mode, Provisioning, repairing and servicing everything. We will soon be leaving the USA for Nuuk in Greenland… Looks cold up there…


New York and the Famous Statue

We pushed on North in the Gulf Stream, At times reaching 17 knots. We were in a race against a Cold Front to Cape Hatteras..We lost… but not by much. 25-30knots of wind against an adverse current of 3 knots in shallow water is not where you want to be. The sea state when we rounded had not had a chance to build to much and we kept up a good speed. The further North we went the better it got. After a rough 12 hours we headed on towards Ambrose Light. Our Pilot boarded there yesterday at 1500 for our run in to NY. The weather was bright and the Sun was out on approach to our berth. Very happy to be alongside after 2400nm in 8 days. All in all a good run. We are even happier today as there is a gale blowing outside and it would be miserable out there to say the least.


Panama to New York

We Had a very good Transit through the Panama canal and refueled and re provisioned in
Shelter Bay at the North end.

Rosehearty left on the 5th June headed for New York's City where We plan to watch some GP50 Racing on the Hudson. We chose to head off the wind and around the West end of Cuba rather than the aptly named Windward passage Between Cuba and Haiti. This route is longer but it is in favorable current that helps a lot.

We are currently off Palm Beach Florida having rounded Cape San Antonio on Saturday Morning. We have 3 knots of current pushing us North.. It looks like We might, however need to wait off Beaufort NC for a frontal passage to get better conditions to round Cape Hatteras.

Photo by John Shears

Photo by John Shears

Bridge of the Americas

Bridge of the Americas

Lovely afternoon here in Panama City as we await our transit pilot. In the background there is the BoA which we are only allowed to pass under at certain times due to the height of our mast at 60m or 200' The Panama Canal is an amazing transit though, even after the 4th time this year, it keeps your attention and we should be in the Caribbean tomorrow Monday at 0300. We leave for NYC on Wednesday! Go go go....

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Last night in the Pacific

Always great to be in the Pacific. Sadly it was short and sweet and now at an end. After our re delivery back up from the Galapagos which was pretty easy with a SW wind behind us and fairly smooth seas We have spent 3 days alongside here in Flamenco Marina. Nice to catch up on some great restaurants and have a bit of time on dry land to look around. tomorrow back through the Panama Canal at 1730 getting to the Caribbean at 0230 on Monday Morning. 4th time this year but always a challenge..

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Harbour View

In the photo there is Rosehearty...A Pelican on the pole, an Iguana on the dock and red crabs everywhere.

It looks calm out to sea where we are anchored but it is quite rolly with a 6’ or 2m sea rolling us around.

However apart from that this Year the weather has been fantastic, No Rain or Mist and a mix of cloud and Sun And now back to Panama city and the rain 900nm to the NE