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Old 03-03-2018, 08:10   #1
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Greenland to Northern Ireland -- Passage Planning -- Drogue?

I'm working on my planning for my summer cruise. One planning problem is the fact that we will not be able to get to some of the most interesting destinations until late in the summer, when the ice (hopefully) breaks up, and yet - as you get into August, the risk of gales goes up, and there starts to be some darkness below the Arctic Circle.

Therefore the return leg is likely to happen in the last half of August with some weather risk. Tasilaq to Northern Ireland is about 1100 miles, and the pilots charts for August show very little risk of contrary winds and a low risk -- lower than I would have thought -- for gales:

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Reykjavik is not far off the Great Circle route and so could be a stopping place in case we needed to wait for a weather window, but I'm thinking that the direct route ought to be doable. It shouldn't take more than a week, and we will be getting weatherfax and satellite weather, and there could be a chance to bug out to Iceland along the way if necessary.


What do you guys think? This is the longest passage of the trip and the only one with much risk of unforecast bad weather. I have been trying to decide whether to devote the resources to building a Jordan Series Drogue and I'm starting to think with all of the other things I need to do to the boat, this might not be the best expenditure of money and labor -- some long warps could be trailed in the worst case. My boat is very strong and very good in bad weather -- F8 with the wind behind the beam is not a problem.
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Old 03-03-2018, 08:17   #2
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Re: Greenland to Northern Ireland -- Passage Planning -- Drogue?

This is gales in September:

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Obviously a whole different ballgame.
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Old 04-03-2018, 16:13   #3
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Re: Greenland to Northern Ireland -- Passage Planning -- Drogue?

We have sailed 22 seasons in the Arctic between February and November, and still have no drogue onboard (52 foot boat). I wouldn't bother putting one on mine either. As you said, when the **** hits the fan, you have enough other stuff you can throw overboard to trail behind you.

Having said that, I can pretty much guarantee you that an encounter with F8 will be an easy crossing when coming from Greenland in late summer, usually you will encounter more than that.
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Old 04-03-2018, 16:52   #4
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Re: Greenland to Northern Ireland -- Passage Planning -- Drogue?

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Originally Posted by Erik de Jong View Post
We have sailed 22 seasons in the Arctic between February and November, and still have no drogue onboard (52 foot boat). I wouldn't bother putting one on mine either. As you said, when the **** hits the fan, you have enough other stuff you can throw overboard to trail behind you.

Having said that, I can pretty much guarantee you that an encounter with F8 will be an easy crossing when coming from Greenland in late summer, usually you will encounter more than that.
Hmmm. F8 I can handle, but I got knocked down in a F9 in the North Sea a few years ago, and wouldn't want to repeat the experience. :shudder:
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Old 05-03-2018, 01:38   #5
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Re: Greenland to Northern Ireland -- Passage Planning -- Drogue?

Knocking down is not so much because of the wind, but of the waves. Bagheera got knocked down in the Labrador sea in 2015, the mast was under water. I doubt it was even a F9, though over the years we have sailed in much more wind, but without incidents.
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Old 05-03-2018, 02:33   #6
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Re: Greenland to Northern Ireland -- Passage Planning -- Drogue?

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Originally Posted by Erik de Jong View Post
Knocking down is not so much because of the wind, but of the waves. Bagheera got knocked down in the Labrador sea in 2015, the mast was under water. I doubt it was even a F9, though over the years we have sailed in much more wind, but without incidents.
Of course it's the waves. That's the only risk. Drogue or trailing warps to prevent speeding down the wave face and broaching. But we got caught by a huge breaking wave. I don't think a drogue would have helped in that case. I don't want to repeat that.

Why do you say F8 is inevitable? The pilot charts say 3% or 4% gale force winds during August. That's average one day out of the month. If they are more frequent than that, then maybe my passage plan is wrong. Maybe then I need to pick my way back to the Faroes via Iceland and break it up into smaller passages which can each be done in a solid weather window.
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Old 05-03-2018, 03:33   #7
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Re: Greenland to Northern Ireland -- Passage Planning -- Drogue?

Well, let's say we have made the crossing from Greenland back to mainland Europe or Southern Canada around a dozen times, and usually waited for a half decent weather window, but every single time we've encountered at least 40 knots of wind for some of the times, sometimes for several days.
In 2014 I sailed back from northern Baffin Island to Halifax, 19 days of upwind sailing, at least half the time with 30 knots of wind, regularly 40+ knots, that was September/October.

Most data on routing charts is more than 40 years old, I have the impression that the higher latitudes in the north are getting more and more windy.

Having said that, If you want to spend significant amounts of time in Greenland, it is pretty much inevitable that you encounter strong winds on the way back. Going back to Europe you generally have them behind, that makes things a lot easier.
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Old 05-03-2018, 03:50   #8
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Re: Greenland to Northern Ireland -- Passage Planning -- Drogue?

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Well, let's say we have made the crossing from Greenland back to mainland Europe or Southern Canada around a dozen times, and usually waited for a half decent weather window, but every single time we've encountered at least 40 knots of wind for some of the times, sometimes for several days.
In 2014 I sailed back from northern Baffin Island to Halifax, 19 days of upwind sailing, at least half the time with 30 knots of wind, regularly 40+ knots, that was September/October.

Most data on routing charts is more than 40 years old, I have the impression that the higher latitudes in the north are getting more and more windy.

Having said that, If you want to spend significant amounts of time in Greenland, it is pretty much inevitable that you encounter strong winds on the way back. Going back to Europe you generally have them behind, that makes things a lot easier.
Thanks; this is very valuable first hand information.

Could you share a little more about your experiences? What routes did you take to Europe from Greenland? What was the timing of these passages -- late August? September?

The pilot charts DO show much worse weather in September. I was thinking that if I left by the middle of August my chances would be better. But then if there's a week of bad weather, you already bump up against the end of the month.

It IS however possible to do this trip in smaller chunks where you will have a guaranteed weather window. In the worst case it could be possible to even leave the boat in Iceland and wait for a better window, if we get one of those "parades" of low pressure systems which happen up there sometimes.
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Old 05-03-2018, 05:02   #9
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Re: Greenland to Northern Ireland -- Passage Planning -- Drogue?

August should be significantly friendlier than September or even October. We have done those all, but tended to push it later and later.
The route will greatly depend on where in Greenland you end up. We have sailed from Southern Greenland straight to the Azores, we have sailed from Eastern Greenland to Iceland and from Western Greenland to Baffin Island and or Further south. I must admit that we usually cross much later in the season than you are intending to do, often September or even October.

I have met sailors who went from the west coast via Iceland back to Europe, to me that seems just like adding a lot of extra miles and time to your journey. Greenland has thousands of miles of rugged and sometimes hostile coastline to offer, take as much time in Greenland as you dare taking and shoot home in one straight shot if you can. that way you get the most out of your long journey up there.
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Old 05-03-2018, 07:07   #10
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Re: Greenland to Northern Ireland -- Passage Planning -- Drogue?

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August should be significantly friendlier than September or even October. We have done those all, but tended to push it later and later.
The route will greatly depend on where in Greenland you end up. We have sailed from Southern Greenland straight to the Azores, we have sailed from Eastern Greenland to Iceland and from Western Greenland to Baffin Island and or Further south. I must admit that we usually cross much later in the season than you are intending to do, often September or even October.

I have met sailors who went from the west coast via Iceland back to Europe, to me that seems just like adding a lot of extra miles and time to your journey. Greenland has thousands of miles of rugged and sometimes hostile coastline to offer, take as much time in Greenland as you dare taking and shoot home in one straight shot if you can. that way you get the most out of your long journey up there.
Thanks; very interesting and valuable comments.

Yes, I'm dying to see Greenland -- a lifelong dream of mine. But I am being rather conservative about this trip -- I'm in a plastic boat (albeit a strong one with Kevlar outer skin). I don't want to sail in gales. F8 I can handle but that's the end of my comfort zone.

We will be only on the East Coast and probably only around Tasiilaq, depending on the ice. What is interesting is that by the Great Circle route, you are actually closer and closer to N Ireland, the further NE you go up the coast. And Reykjavik is almost directly on the way.
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Old 05-03-2018, 07:41   #11
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Re: Greenland to Northern Ireland -- Passage Planning -- Drogue?

Dock,

Re: your drogue question

I usually ask people two questions

Does your boat surf 'easily'?

If the answer to the surf question is no, then you probably dont need any sort of drogue and ad hoc warps will do whatever job you need done. That was the case on our Silk, but Hawk surfed and warps would not do the job.

Do you have enough crew who are competent helmsmen to hand steer continuously for 24 hrs (including in the temps you are going to encounter)?

If you have sufficient competent helmsmen then the need for drogues is greatly reduced. The primary purpose/benefit is to help prevent the boat getting out of balance on a wave face and spinning beam on - a good helmsman can also do that.

A series drogue would require some of your limited management attention, but a speed limiting drogue (I would get one designed such that you can place two in series) does not - just buy and place in a locker and they stow pretty small and do work rather better on a boat which can surf than just warps.

As to the storm frequency . . . it is decently low in july and then as you have seen it a little less than doubles each month past august. BUT if you are going up there you need to be mentally prepared for F10. Please don't go up thinking your limit is F8. We had an F10 june 4th. The odds are low you would be caught at sea in such, but it is a real non-zero probability. I am sure you are your boat are capable, just get your mental hat on straight now so that you are calm and competent if it should happen. You don't want to be thinking 'oh **** this is more than my personal limit'!
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Old 13-03-2018, 03:09   #12
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Re: Greenland to Northern Ireland -- Passage Planning -- Drogue?

Dockhead, there is a YT video by PBO or YM showing a number of different drogues in use and the effects on boat speed each had. Okay they used smaller drogues and a 30ft yacht for the review but it did show that ropes even with a bight had little effect. Perhaps take a builders bag and some car tires. Car tires may also be useful if you stop at a rough quay and don't want to use fenders. Did you sort fender boards?

Which way round Ireland are you going, north or south?

Pete
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Old 14-03-2018, 04:06   #13
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Re: Greenland to Northern Ireland -- Passage Planning -- Drogue?

a
Quote:
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Dock,

Re: your drogue question

I usually ask people two questions

Does your boat surf 'easily'?

If the answer to the surf question is no, then you probably dont need any sort of drogue and ad hoc warps will do whatever job you need done. That was the case on our Silk, but Hawk surfed and warps would not do the job.

Do you have enough crew who are competent helmsmen to hand steer continuously for 24 hrs (including in the temps you are going to encounter)?

If you have sufficient competent helmsmen then the need for drogues is greatly reduced. The primary purpose/benefit is to help prevent the boat getting out of balance on a wave face and spinning beam on - a good helmsman can also do that.

A series drogue would require some of your limited management attention, but a speed limiting drogue (I would get one designed such that you can place two in series) does not - just buy and place in a locker and they stow pretty small and do work rather better on a boat which can surf than just warps.

As to the storm frequency . . . it is decently low in july and then as you have seen it a little less than doubles each month past august. BUT if you are going up there you need to be mentally prepared for F10. Please don't go up thinking your limit is F8. We had an F10 june 4th. The odds are low you would be caught at sea in such, but it is a real non-zero probability. I am sure you are your boat are capable, just get your mental hat on straight now so that you are calm and competent if it should happen. You don't want to be thinking 'oh **** this is more than my personal limit'!
Well, I said "comfort zone", not "limit". Two very different things!! Obviously "limits" are nothing but wishful thinking -- the ocean doesn't care.

If there is significant risk of F10 on a passage from Greenland to Northern Ireland -- about a week -- I will have to have a drogue. That's the answer to the original question in this thread. Not much time left to make it but I guess I can get the crew to help.

Wouldn't F10 be rare enough, though, that I'd be able to pick a weather window with a reasonable certai of not having it? F10 up there with that kind of fetch is survival conditions, whatever the size of your testicles are.

I suppose if I made the drogue in sections, I could use part of it as a steering rogue, couldn't I?


Concerning your other questions -- yes, my boat will surf. She does it with very great stability due to her oversized semi-balanced rudder. I will have 3 or 4 good sailors on board so there should be plenty of helming talent. But in any case, I wouldn't take a significant risk of F10 without having a drogue on board, so the question is moot.
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Old 14-03-2018, 04:10   #14
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Re: Greenland to Northern Ireland -- Passage Planning -- Drogue?

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Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
Dockhead, there is a YT video by PBO or YM showing a number of different drogues in use and the effects on boat speed each had. Okay they used smaller drogues and a 30ft yacht for the review but it did show that ropes even with a bight had little effect. Perhaps take a builders bag and some car tires. Car tires may also be useful if you stop at a rough quay and don't want to use fenders. Did you sort fender boards?

Which way round Ireland are you going, north or south?

Pete
I couldn't find the video -- linky?

As to our route -- we will go where the wind blows us, but I think the plan is to land at Belfast, rest up and see the place (I think you used to live there, didn't you?), then proceed through the Irish Sea. All tips appreciated if you know that area -- I've never been past Land's End.
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Old 26-03-2018, 22:56   #15
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Re: Greenland to Northern Ireland -- Passage Planning -- Drogue?

Dockhead,

A few things to keep in mind about the wx in the North Atlantic:

The pilot charts tell a story of a monthly average. They are most indicative of those months in the middle of the season, like June and July or December and January.
August is a transitional month from summer to fall. August 1st is far more like July, while August 30th is like September.

The transition from summer to fall happens quite abruptly, but is almost impossible to predict ahead of time. All of a sudden, the weather systems "act" differently.

So by mid-August you should be prepared for the worst that SEPTEMBER could throw at you.

And your boat may do at best 150 to 200nm per day? Lows will do 450 to 600 nm in the same time.
The forecast accuracy in the fall, in the North Atlantic, is not good enough to plan your course on a day to day basis.
You could change course based on a forecast that easily is off by 200nm in 24 hours.

So it's simply best to plan for the absolute worst and not pin your hopes on a forecast.
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