Expedition Around North America
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Leg 21 : Halifax (Canada) - Reykjavik (Island)
(April 6 to 26, 2009 )
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Leg 20
Halifax (Canada) - Reykjavil (Island)
(April 6 to 21, 2009 )

April 21, 2009 (time onboard = UTC )
Reykjavik, Iceland.
64°09’N – 21°56’W
19h00 local time

At dawn, a gentle breeze pushes us to Iceland. Beams of light houses sweep the horizon. Portions of clear sky promise a beautiful day. While entering the bay, the swell is calming down totally. We sail the last 25 nautical miles enjoying these calm conditions. In the distance couple of whales blow are visible too far away for an efficient identfication. When we enter the harbour, custom are here, waiting for us with the dog. Formalities are longer than before. We put that matter under the count of the crisis with requirement from the governement for more discipline but our friends coming later to welcome us tell us that a Yacht coming from Norway was caught yesterday with 110 kgs of heavy drug in South East Iceland. The biggest catch ever done here. A sailing boat coming in this season is suspect anyway. Local insurance refuse to insure sailing boats navigating between September30th and April 30th.
Anyway, we are very happy to be back in Iceland and to see our friends. We will put our Islandic program online only this week end because thursday is a hollyday. It’s the first day of summer in Iceland. Couple of meetings have to be confirmed but we know we will make a presentation of the expedition to the french embassy and the president of Iceland will pay us a visit to support our action. We’re very touch by such visit in this busy period of elections.

We sail 2344 NM since Halifax and 20376 NM since Tromsø. The « Marine Track » map shows that the circumnavigation of the North American continent is done. What a trip to just cross the harbor !! But the expedition is not finish. Tromsø is still far away and we will be able to validate the whole trip while docking in Tromsø next May 16th.

That’s the end of the 20th leg of the expedition, only one is missing. Were onboard for this trip :

On top from left to right : Laurent Thomassin (France), Olivier Pitras (France), Gérard Carpentier (France), Annie Tardivon (France), Michel Tréguier (France), Laurent Ceresoli (France).
Bellow from left to right : Etienne Thomassin (France), Vincent Bénard (France), Vincent Berthet (France).



Crew Halifax - Reykjavik
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
April 20, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 3)
North Atlantic Ocean
63°45’N – 23°26’W
22h25 local time

The calm in between was short. We had a lots of fulmar paying us a visit. The wind picks up again, stronger than yesterday. We hove to for three hours and keep going with no sails for two hours. Every breaker is sprayed all over. The see is very big and steep. In the middle of the afternoon the weather is getting calmer.
We are at 50 miles from Reykjavik.



Northern fulmar
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
April 19, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 3)
North Atlantic Ocean
59°18’N – 28°02’W
21h00 local time

The barometer is falling down very fast (15 mb in 8h30). The wind picks up. We keep our route. At 5 AM elements are too strong, we’re oblige to hove to for three hours. Then the wind shift and we can keep going toward our destination. Vincent our cameraman photographer since Dutch Harbor does not miss these intenses moment.
Yesterday the log function on the GPS went over 20 000 nautical miles.



Cameraman
Photo Laurent Ceresoli
(Click to enlarge)


Wave
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
April 18, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 3)
North Atlantic Ocean
59°18’N – 28°02’W
18h45 local time

The weather is calm today. Trade winds are over. It is the calm before the storm. It should arrive in the next 10 hours. We use our day to double check and tied up things for heavy weather. The next 48 hours should be sportive. Predictions confirm that we should get mainly downwind.



Preparing for storm
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
April 17, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 3)
North Atlantic Ocean
57°58’N – 30°40’W
22h25 local time

Six days already since we got this South-Easterly wind. Discussions are going well on board about our estimated time of arrival in Reykjavik. In between, a big low could change the settings. It should arrive in thirty hours. Inside, we should get a majority of favourable winds. Since a couple of days, we entered a kind of routine that we encountered usually under the trade winds. Nobody ask anymore about the direction of the wind. Why they should ask ? It’s coming from South-East !



Front sails
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
April 16, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 3)
North Atlantic Ocean
55°31N – 33°35’W
22h25 local time

It’s confirmed, the wind is getting calmer. The night was rock’n roll. At dawn we come back to comfortable conditions. The wind does not change in direction. We were far away to imagine we will make a crossing under these latitudes with Easterly winds. On board, dawn is at 3h30 and dusk at 18h45. We did not change our time since departure from Halifax, that is why. Nobody onboard is disturbed by that, then we will change to Icelandic local time when we will arrive.



Playing guitar
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
April 15, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 3)
North Atlantic Ocean
53°13’N – 36°06’W
22h20 local time

During the night the wind picks up. The sea is big. The deck is the humidity’s kingdom. Showers are numerous. We keep the same track and almost the same speed. Then we are quite satysfied with our fate. Iceland is strait ahead. Shifts are going on in a good spirit. Just after dusk, A more violents set of showers sweeps our region. We reduce our already small sails. Couple of vawes run on deck but we keep the track. Right now it seems that is getting calmer.



Curious birds
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
April 14, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 3)
North Atlantic Ocean
50°28’N – 38°56’W
22h15 local time

It is 3h30 when we get clear with satisfaction of the ice limit. The day is just as peaceful as the previous one. We are sailing fast toward Iceland. Manoeuvers are very few. In such circonstances, cooking becomes the key action. The team in charge is under pressure, the rest of the crew is watching them carefully, and guess, guess, guess. In the evening the wind picks up a bit. We stay in front of « our » southerly flow. We do our best to keep a good speed to sail it as long as we can.



Preparing meal
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
April 13, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 3)
North Atlantic Ocean
47°54’N – 42°01’W
22h30 local time

This wind blowing from South brings us ideal conditions of navigation. Barometer is high, thermometer too, the gentle breeze is well setted. The see is relatively calm. We are sailing fast and comfortable toward Iceland. The sun is the « star » of the day. In the afternoon we take the sextant out for a initiation session on deck. Next night we should sail off the ice limit.



Sextant
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
April 12, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 3)
South of Flemish Bank
45°43’N – 44°41’W
23h55 local time

Dawn is always welcome when there is ice around. The day should be peaceful, the sea is calm and it is a sunny day. Every new ice chart is the occasion to optimise our route through the icebergs field. We have another 250 nautical miles to sail before to clear the iceberg limit zone established by the international ice patrol (environment Canada).



Chart table
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
April 11, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 3)
East of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland
44°33’N – 47°06’W
22h30 local time

We sail off the banks in the second part of the night. The sky stays clear, the moon helps for ice watching. The horizon is empty. The sun appears red and glorious. Couple of hours later, the watchman announces an iceberg on starboard. We will see numerous small pieces during the same hour. We spent the afternoon with no alert. The night comes dark. The moon will come later, every day later. When it is there, the watch is lighter, we can see with efficiency. The radar does not see small pieces.



Iceberg
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
April 10, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 3)
South of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland
43°05’N – 50°11’W
22h40 local time

At dawn, the breeze changes. A very small low is passing by. Right now the wind blows from the South-East and will be from the North-West before the night. We can see already slightly before noon clouds from the cold front far away in the West. The wind is strong but we spent a beautiful afternoon under a glorious sun. We decide to cut one hundred miles through the banks. A cargo ship heading apparently for Halifax cross our route. The moon rises red to night. It will stay with us till the sunset.



Cargoship
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
April 9, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 3)
South of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland
43°29’N – 53°27’W
22h40 local time

The breeze is light this morning and temperature is warmer. We are in warm waters again. We set heaters one-step down. The swell on the beam makes us rolling and gives us a hard time to maintain sails not banging. Then we are heading more South to save the rigging.
In the afternoon we are crossing a group of about ten pilot whale heading North-West. Just before night, we are entering a zone of fog by patches. Temperature is falling down. We are, according to the chart, just following the limit South of the icebergs field. Traffic is none around us. We are sailing on an ocean huge and desert.



Pilot whale
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
April 8, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 3)
South-East of Cabot Strait
44°18’N – 56°15’W
22h50 local time

The day starts wet, windy and foggy, just like yesterday. Around 10 the wind shifts to a more comfortable way and sailing off the banks of Nova Scotia gives us a more steady and regular swell. Then, we are happy even with this persisting fog.
The last weather forecast gives us a strong gale within 72 hours with easterly winds on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. We decide to sail South of it. In the beginning of the afternoon, the wind goes down and the sky clears up. In the East, a rainbow smiles to us. The night comes clearer than the previous one. Behind clouds, the moon is watching.



Rainbow
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
April 7, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 3)
North Sable Island
44°44’N – 59°23’W
22h25 local time

The wind picks up. Predictions were good. The sea stays calm on the lee of the sandy bank which spreads over 30 miles off the Island .Our sails are small. The sun rises with a choppy sea, a low ceiling and showers with rain and gusts. We are heading to a zone with pack ice. Before noon, a dense fog wraps us, bad news. The wind picks up a step further. The team on watch use all its senses to try to see and react in time. The plan is to push till the night and see what is happening then, if no change we will tack to the South. Finally in the middle of the afternoon, the new ice chart comes. There is no ice anymore in our zone. Faces get relaxed right away. The news arrive in the cockpit the next minute to release the team in watch seeing ice in every breakers and there are a lot. We are happy with that for ourselves of course but worried to see how fast it went this last week for the ice to clears up. Now the Gulf of Saint Lawrence is open all the way up to Quebec City. The sun sets without disturbing our visibility which is almost zero, it is just darker. The night should be rough, showers with rain and strong gusts are numerous.



Watching
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
April 6, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 3)
West Sable Island, Nova Scotia
43°52’N – 62°12’W
22h45 local time

9h00, the last drops of water arrive in the tanks while custom officers are parking their car next to the boat. Every body is onboard, then we can set sail.
We sail down the fjord toward the off shore. “Halifax traffic” wish us a safe crossing, soon we are alone. The coast of Nova Scotia disappears to the horizon. The weather forecast predicts a gale for the night. We have no time to go outside the rim of the continental shelf where waves are bigger. Then we will stay on it. In the midle of the afternoon the moon is visible, it will be full soon.
Our route is now North-East, against the wind. We are waiting impatiently the last ice chart because we are planning to sail between the ice and Sable Island. We can watch again for Petrels Fulmar who fly gracefully from wave to wave.



Northern fulmar
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
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