Overnight, during the very early hours of August 4, the two SKIRR Adventures yachts crossed into the Arctic Circle, a line of latitude around the Earth, at approximately 66°30′ N. Participating in the fourth leg of the expedition sail to the Arctic Circle, are twenty crew members plus the professional skippers and mates.
We hear from some of the crew members onboard about their impressions and immediate thoughts crossing the iconic, Arctic Circle for the first time.
LIZ, Crew member onboard
“What really amazed me was my first ‘night watch’ starting at 23:00 hours this far north, the sun made a slow and gentle descent over the horizon and provided a warm glow across sea and sky but darkness never arrived.
The night was just a very soft blue/grey sky. Next was the eagerly awaited crossing the Arctic Circle captured on camera watching the instruments clock over 66 deg 34 minutes.
We celebrated as best we could on ‘iced party rings’, biscuits supplied by Nigel’s wife (not necessarily appreciating how significant they were to become).
It was one of the best night watches I have ever done.
crew member onboard
“A waypoint was set to mark the arctic circle, the time of arrival just past midnight. This meant starboard watch would experience crossing the arctic circle.
The high pressure system meant there were few clouds in the sky, the sea state was calm, the temperature cold.
The watch started with a prolonged sunset, the sea reflecting an orange hue 20 degrees to the west of us as we progressed west. Looking to the starboard of our bow, the light was a metallic silver. It was near the darkest and coldest point (not very dark) of the day that we crossed the arctic circle.
There was no big fanfare just an acknowledgement between crew and a couple of ‘iced party rings’ biscuits to share.
Then next watch was welcomed to the Arctic Circle, and we ate some delicious pancakes (crepes) cooked by our French crewman.
tom, crew member onboard
What a morning after having had to deny my French passport before cooking pancakes out of powder for the first time in my life to please a hungry crew who I guess appreciated this morning delight. I am grateful for this coincidence that I was on cooking duty this morning for our only morning crepe breakfast of the expedition!
I am also glad that my mother could not read English so this story will stay on the boat and happy birthday to her… My previous Clipper Race experience had prepared me to spread the awareness of French Cuisine around the world to a public who apparently had not had a chance to grow up enjoying the wonderful taste of crepe Suzette, so Suzette and I had to explain the difference between crepes and pancakes again on the way. Be prepared dear future French seaman boarding a Clipper Race yacht that you will need to bring your own cast iron crepe pan in order to respect the spirit of our ancestors.
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Speaking of spirit… What an offence to Poseidon, god of the seas, I made when – during my watch last night – I was the one to first spot far ahead in front of us a little dot floating which we initially interpreted as a fishing boat. Later it turned into a container boat before a few miles later turning into a Wembley stadium boat… Only to realise after going off watch and back 4 hours later that we were next to our first Iceberg, without saying that they do of course have the priority over you so you need to re-adjust your course.
Looking at this wonderful structure resembling an abstract art piece was so impressive and a very humbling experience to me, especially when the morning sunlight was reflected this pristine white light to us, it seemed as if clouds had come done on Earth to merge with the sea and visit the physicality of solid matter. This is I imagine just the beginning of my discovery of all the wonders of the Arctic that are still to be discovered on the way.
Showing me how wonderful our planet is and also how vulnerable she is too, thinking that this massive giant left alone to drift on the sea is eventually going to melt and return into the ocean without leaving a trace behind to continue perpetuating an infinite cycle of life. Already meditating and reflecting on to see and I could incorporate a bit more everyday this wonderful teaching into my life.
On the August 1 the weather forecast showed non favourable conditions but the patterns changed and offered a perfect window to go for the Greenland expedition as initially planned. I of course asked myself who was behind this plan and what came to me was a kind of dream that the whales had set up an appointment for Thursday August 4 at 3 o’clock. I initially interpreted and told the crew as 3pm (in the afternoon) on Thursday, thinking that it would be night time at 3am and that I would not be able to see them (which is not the case by the way as there is clear day light at that time).
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So what a surprise when at the beginning of my night shift something behind me is calling my attention and when turning I see the first spout of whales of the expedition which was just marking the beginning of a fantastic hour of encounters with our magnificent and enormous cousins from the ocean which started at 3.05am on Thursday…
It was for me such a beautiful experience to breath with them at the surface of a very calm blue sea reflecting the perfectly blue sky above as if time was being suspended in this magical landscape. It was of course also very magical to take pictures of them as they were taking a last breath, preparing to dive deep into a cold and dark environment and saying “salut” (oui, oui, they seem to speak French) by showing their tail.
My answer to them was of course “Merci beaucoup for showing up and your support and yes I will continue everyday on my life to do the best I can to live in harmony and peace with you, also to continue assisting and inspiring my fellow human brothers and sisters to reconnect with the magic of life, their potential and the innocence of life so we can become reunited again as a family of living beings of planet Earth respecting and honouring one another to co-create a sustainable and loving planet together”.
So I guess that humbleness and also connecting to Mother Nature, its beauty, its magic, its water beings is my module of the day.
Thank you so much all amazing Clipper Ventures team for making this possible and allowing me and many others to experience life to this extend.
This is making it up for me repeating over and over to my British neighbours what is the difference between crepes and pancakes…
rich, crew member onboard
First large iceberg was seen this morning and it was a huge one. We first saw it at about 15 miles away and it then started to become clear on the radar screen from 12 miles.
Nothing really prepares one for the reality of a huge berg which is larger than some islands I have visited. The colours on the different faces and sides of the peaks, which rose to a height of over 300m changed constantly the various hues of blue until it became a pure glistening white, shining in the sunlight as we passed into the fog which is now our world.
Numerous smaller growlers surrounded the large berg which in the calm conditions were easy to see although the crew were often distracted from ice watch by the fin whales which were seen blowing and breaking the surface all around the boat as we passed the scattered ice. Some lucky crew were treated to the sight of them showing their flukes as they dove below and sounded the depths.
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jeff, crew member onboard
Whales and Icebergs all within the same camera shot.
I never would have believed ever seeing anything like this.
What a planet we live on!