Sunday, July 17, 2016

Summer 2016

Hello Arctic Monkey sailing fans!   Summer has crusing has started and we'll be posting updates on our adventure via Facebook.  You can follow us by Following:

If you want a quick glimpse of where we are, checkout the link below.

All the best,
Team Arctic Monkey

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New remote access blog...

We've had to change the way we're going to log our journey via the satellite email.  Facebook has removed the option for updating by email and so has our Google blog.  This has created a big problem for those of us trying to keep our friends up to date via a low bandwidth connection.  We've settled on the following website,

You can now watch our offshore progress in a number of ways.

The new way, probably the most frequent updates after this post:     (A semi-daily update via satellite)

The old ways when we have WiFi or better access:                                        (This website updated when we have WiFi)   (When we have WiFi or mobile phone access)  (Our offshore position tracker)

This is a link to our coastal tracking when in VHF range:

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Stromness, Orkney Islands

Stromness - Orkney Islands, UK

Somehow even though I'd written it, I lost the text for this post!  I'll update when possible in the future.  In a nutshell, we had a great time in Stromness, although a little longer than expected.  A little medical issue with Leah and strong winds prevented a departure for more than a week.  The area is steeped in history and archaeology and we had fun learning about it.  We thank the Stromness Harbourmaster, Bob, for all his help and all the friendly people in the town.

We're number 23 in the Blue Planet Odyssey, ready to go!

Zoe and Leah checking out Skara Brae, a settlement from 3500 B.C.

Leah and Rose in St. Magnus Cathedral, pirate grave? (No, common engraving)

Dad and Zoe selfie, double decker bus, Bob Ucker seats, front row!

Picnic during our 16 mile bike ride.  Zoe did the whole thing by herself, very proud of her.

My future surfer checking out the break at Skara Brae.


Susie, Ian, Chris, Rose and Zetty on one of many bus rides in the Orkney's.

The Arctic Monkey's, Orkney Islands, UK

Inverness, Scotland - The Last Full Stop

Rainbows and Unicorns, pretty bright up here.
Teaching Zoe how to row.
We're now in Inverness, Scotland, the capital of the Scottish Highlands.  Technically we're still in the Caledonia Canal as we have two more locks before we exit to the sea again.  Headquarters for the final stopover is Seaport Marina.  Here we handling the last items on our list before heading north to the Arctic.

First on the agenda was the heater.  Alistair Mackay from Mackay Boat Repair Services came with a new heater unit.  We discussed the problem and decided that swapping out the units would be the easiest and best solution.  Alistair worked for most of the day and we tested along the way.  By the end, all good and back to normal, no more leaking electrical.  He called back a couple days later just to make sure everything was still OK.  Highly recommended.

Next up was a small leak on the shaft seal only at 2,300rpm and greater.  We think it's caused by the air pipe being slightly too tight.  We've loosened it off and will test on the way out.  We generally never motor at that high of rpm so its not critical and its not a gusher.  John Macbean at Carley Marine has been great help, checking in on us and giving it a once over.

Zetty and Susie have been working diligently on provisioning and meal planning.  We want to have enough food on board here to last us through the Northwest Passage which could be two months.  This is in addition to the food for our passages to Orkneys, Faroes, Iceland and Greenland.  We've rented ("hired" as they say here) a car and will be starting non-stop trips to all our favorite markets in the next two days.  The list is long and we're still trying to figure out where to store it all.  Glad I bought all those, (6), 100L dry bags on sale in Plymouth.

Our friend Ian Jansing arrived on May 26th and will be on for the rest of the trip.  He and I will handle some of the Arctic boat prep, installing the polypropylene mooring lines, swapping out the mast head wind gauges, refilling gas bottles, installing some extra shelving, placing some chafe guards on the spreaders, re-rigging our fourth reef point and organizing contingency items.  Our posts may be sporadic from this point onward, highly dependent on WiFi hotspots around various marinas and coffee shops.

We will be joined by another of Zetty's cousins, Chris Boot on Thurs.  Chris is a highly active sailor on the Solent and has many ocean miles under his belt.  He'll sail with us until we get to Reykjavik, Iceland where he has a return flight back to the UK.

I can't say enough about the Scottish Canals and the people that run them.  The lock keepers are friendly and very helpful with local advice.  The marina staff are wonderful and keep the facilities in clean working order.  I would recommend this trip to anyone.

I was up at the top of the mast doing a little work on the wind gauges and there was a fella looking at the boat down below.  When I got down he said, "Same thing happened to mine, eagle landed on it, broke it right off."  He's on a boat on the next pontoon.  Turns out the man is Alain Bateadat, owner of  S/V Leava, from France.  Alain did the NWP in 2011.  We traded a few war stories, he told us that we had a good boat for the attempt.  Small world.

And off we go....

Just a few of the provisions Zetty and Susie bought for our 2 months in the Arctic.

Our spare dinghy is a fast two person kayak, just in case.

Crazy kids in Inverness playing water polo in kayaks.

Up top, working on the mast head, 65ft to the deck.  Could have used 4771 here;)

A view out to the last of the locks on the Caledonian Canal, known as the sea locks.

Tvoroyri, Faroe Islands

We arrived at Tvoroyri, Faroe Islands after our second try.  Our first attempt was aborted 60 miles offshore when Leah presented with signs of appendicitis.  We sailed back to Stromness where Zetty and Leah spent the night in the hospital for observation.  While the doctors didn't find anything she did show signs of a UTI and antibiotics were prescribed.  We kept a close eye on her over the next couple of days as the gale force winds prevented a comfortable sail up to the Faroe's.  We finally did have a window, 15-25kts upwind on a port tack.  We went for it and made it just in time as the wind picked up to 35-50kts just as we entered the fjord leading to the harbor.  We first tried to anchor in a protected bay but we couldn't get the anchor to hold, kelp being the main problem.  After two attempts, we aborted and went for the harbor.  We contacted the harbor master and he gave us a wall to lie against.  As luck would have it, we were a touch too deep drafted and the rudder just hit bottom.  With 6" of tide left before low tide and it being neaps we didn't want to chance it, so we went for the next best option of a lee wall.  That was not a good option but the only option as it turns out the "harbor" had been filled in for container storage.  This was not on the charts or in the pilot/guide book.  Arctic Monkey is now braving out gale force winds against the wall filled with giant Michelin tires.  I think we'll have a little extra scrubbing to do in Torshavn as the boat's a mess.  We're holed up here until Friday, June 12th as the gales are to continue until then.  The local people here say the same thing, the worst spring in years, too much wind and rain.  I've been in contact with our weather routing team at Commander's Weather and we may not have a good weather window to make it to Iceland until the 19th of June.  We may be getting a little behind schedule but you can't fight Mother Nature, well you can but most of the time you loose...

Leah, Zoe, LJ and Susie enjoying a laugh on passage to Tvoroyri, Faroe Islands.

Zetty, Rosie and Ian on passage.

Chris Boot and Susie Theis on watch.
The boys having a well deserved sandwich after securing the boat to a lee wall, not the best but any port in a storm.

Ian was the first up and out to the Hans Olaf bakery, fresh danish pastries make it all worth it!

The girls.

Little Rosie looking good in her new hair cut.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Scottish Canals

The Crinny - The Crinan Canal

Granny Felicity joined us in Conwy, and stayed for our trip through our first Scottish canal until Oban.  Oh, the beauty...After locking in through the first lock, our first experience with a large "sea" lock, we almost squashed a smaller boat beside us.  We weren't quite ready when the lock keeper opened up the sluice gates and we got a little sideways.  We stayed overnight between locks 10-11 and had a nice dinner at Cairnbaan Hotel, a one mile walk each way, a good stretch of the legs, except for Rosie who rode on my shoulders the entire way home.  (Not much more than an air pack weighs (firefighter speak), she's a light weight!)
Granny Felicity on the lookout, we're up 65ft already.

I'm not sure we're going to get lost...

Leah ready with a finger in case it starts leaking more!

Two little buddy's.  A local man brings them down to the canal in a cat box for grass as he doesn't have a lawn.

Leah decided she needed a Spa Day, Dad can you save your Green Tea bags please?

Heres a youtube link to the raw video we shot from the Quadcopter at our overnight stay and the exit in Crinan.

Our arrival in Oban was bittersweet.  We had made it through our first canal but it was time to say good bye to Granny as she had to get home to prepare for her next adventure to Alaska.  We met Zetty's friend Renee Lindsay (we met through the awesome facebook group 'Women who Sail' - Ed), her husband Guy and their two children Phoebe (8) and Poppy (5)  aboard their boat SV Emerald Bay.  We had a really fun time playing, eating and making hopefully a life long friendship. The girls were especially thrilled to meet up with some more soon-to-be liveaboard children, though actually at this point, they try to make friends with anyone under 5ft tall, they're so in need of 'playdates'!!  We also had the great fortune to arrange a meeting with the legendary Arctic sailor,
Rev Bob Shepton from S/V Dodo's Delight.  Bob has transited the NWP twice and has cruised Greenland and the Arctic waters extensively.  We had a great day together, I asked a lot of questions and received some very good advice.  Bob is a delight, pun intended, and we had a wonderful time. I showed him my Quadcopter and how I managed to justify its existence on the boat, looking for leads in the pack ice of course.;)  I think he liked it and I know a group of climbers that might have one next time they're aboard Dodo's Delight!

Say hello to our new crew member, Susie Theis. or  Susie joined us in Oban and will be with us for the rest of the journey.  She's an Oconomowoc native, an avid skier, adventurer and sailor.  We're glad to have her aboard! Zetty's cousin Ruth Iliffe also came aboard in Oban and stayed with us through the Caledonian canal to Inverness.   Zoe has a 'boatschool' assignment to interview all our crew, visiting and permanent, and these will be posted on the blog once the scribe (somehow I got conned into this - Ed.) types them up!

The Cally - The Caledonian Canal
Corpach - We made it to the Corpach Sea Lock at around 12:30.  The lock keeper was nowhere to be found as he was helping another group at the next lock.  He showed up around 13:00 and said we had to wait for a few boats to lock out at 13:30.  We locked in at 14:00 and that was it for the day.  The basin it was for the night.  An early start the next day got us up and out to Neptune's Staircase, a flight of back-to-back locks that takes you up 64ft.

Banavie -
Swimming in Loch Oich - The map tells of the Great Glen Water Park located in the middle of Loch Oich.  Sounded pretty good for this clan so we thought we'd check it out.  Whoa, not a water park like we expected, the "water" was Loch Oich, the park was a small playground for the kids.  The "swimming pool" was an oversized hottub, with a 12 person limit.  Fun was had anyway and we all needed a bath.
Invergarry Castle - Spent the night at Invergarry Castle, or the ruins of it.
Fort Augustus - Now on our way down, we stopped for the night for the flight of 5 locks going down the next morning.  Fish and Chip shop.  Best burgers so far from the local butcher shop, D.J. Macdougall.  If you get anywhere near here, make sure you visit!

Drumnadrochit - Spending the night here in a small marina in order to visit the Loch Ness Monster Exhibit and the Urquhart Castle, the most visited spot on Loch Ness.
Camping picnic and...

complete with marshmallow roasting!

Peel, Isle of Man

Peel, Isle of Man. (by Zetty)
We sailed from Conwy, Wales to the Isle of Man with my Mum as official "stowaway/able seagranny"  aboard, leaving with the tide in the morning and arriving in the dark around 10:30pm.  We had to wait in the outer harbour for about 30 mins before entering the inner harbour and marina in low light, past the beautiful castle overlooking the bay and through the tidal flap gate and swing bridge that was remotely operated for us by the Douglas harbormaster on the other side of the island. The Isle of Man is an interesting place, small enough to make a great holiday destination with lots of outdoor activities, whale and dolphin watching and steeped in ancient history.  The day after we arrived my Mum took the older two girls off to the House of Manannan while Louie and I did laundry and Rosie took her nap.  They had such a good time (very interesting and interactive museum about the ancient history through to modern life on the Isle of Man) that we all went back the following morning.  In the afternoon we walked over to the castle, played on the beach collecting 'Queenie'
shells (queen scallops - Isle of Man is the largest harvester of this yummy shellfish in the UK) and jumping in the rolling breakers.  At one point I turned around and saw Rosie on her hands and knees in the surf, grinning like a madwomen, until she walked out and realized how cold it would be for the walk home!!  The Monkeys, coming from the inland lakes of Wisconsin, are real newbies when it comes to beaches and waves and we always seem to leave with one, if not all, completely soaked and freezing cold!   After walking around the castle, spotting a lot of new seabirds and wildflowers (Rosie's favorite thing to do) we came across the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institute) lifeboat station, and discovered it was open to visitors.  Louie, with his interest in firefighting and all forms of rescue, soon had all the girls and Granny and I exploring and learning about the history of the RNLI as well as how it operates today.  The RNLI has always been one of my favorite charities - as a British sailor you never know when you'll need them, and as a completely volunteer and charity run operation they are always needing support.  There was a film running in the station (turns out the very first lifeboat station in the UK was in Peel, I of M) about the history and running of the RNLI and we watched fascinated for as long as Rosie would let us.  We left before it was finished and Zoe was not (at all) happy to leave before it was over.  If any of our British readers know what this movie would have been, please let us know as we could perhaps find it online for her to watch.  I know for a fact that if Lou lived here he'd be a lifeboat man in a heartbeat.
We left Peel once again in glorious sunshine and sailed overnight north towards Scotland.  The sunset that night was hard to beat, and despite the decreasing temperature my Mum sat and watched for a really long time, as the colours were ever changing.  Northern Ireland was in the distance and the Scottish coast on the other side. During the night we came across groups of fishing boats driving in circles, possibly harvesting Queenies? A little confusing to the watch person until you figure out whats going on!! We also sailed past Dunmore where my great aunt, Tante Hans used to live, leaving me happily reminiscing about my times with her while on night watch.
We decided due to great weather to push on past Ardrossan and onto the Crinan canal entrance at Ardrishaig.

Visiting the House of Manannan Museum in Peel, Isle of Man

Peel Harbour

Peel Castle on the entrance to the harbour

Peel RNLI boathouse.  Great tour and movie