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Irish Climate Change Voyage to Greenland

1st June 2019
The Killary Flyer on a previous trip to Greenland in 2013 The Killary Flyer on a previous trip to Greenland in 2013 Photo: Darragh Muldowney

Adventurer Jamie Young has traversed the Atlantic solo not once but twice, as he couldn’t afford any other way home writes Lorna Siggins

The Co Antrim-born founder of Killary Adventure Centre has also taken a kite buggy to Antarctica, a kayak around Cape Horn, and was part of the 1997 Irish South Arís expedition in the wake of Ernest Shackleton.

This weekend he is the skipper of a Dutch and Irish crew sailing to Greenland, as part of a two-year project documenting the impact of climate crisis on the world’s largest island.

kllary flyer crewThe Killary Flyer crew (minus crew Pauline Jordan and Martin Flood). In the photo from left to right are Jamie Young (Ship Captain and Director), Marieke Lexmond (Producer), Vincent Monahan (Producer, Crew & Videographer), Jeroen Hendriks (Technical Producer) and Ciaran Lennon (Skipper, Diver & Mechanic). There are two other members of the production team that are not included, those are Annette Beil (Editor) and Menno Westnedorp (Director of Photography)

Young’s 15 m (50ft) aluminium yacht, Killary Flyer will sail from the Killary fjord on the Galway-Mayo border, weather permitting.

Setting a 1500 nautical mile course, the yacht will visit harbours in the West Greenland coastline, where ice “highways” are now affected by warming seas, and communities from the south up to the Arctic Circle as far as Thule is under extreme pressure.

The trip is the first of two to make a documentary about Greenland and the wider Arctic circle, Young says.

He and his crew including Ciaran Lennon, Pauline Jordan, Martin Flood, and film-maker/sailor Vincent Monahan of Duck Upon Rock Productions are working with Dutch co-producer Marieke Lexmond and her team.

The Dutch contingent includes technical producer Jeroen Hendriks, editor Annette Beil, and director of photography Menno Westendorp, who will fly to Greenland to join the yacht.

The Killary Flyer will be self-sufficient, loaded with kayaks, climbing and diving gear.

Young, from Cullbackey, Co Antrim, undertook a trip to Greenland with a crew including his son, Shane, in 2013, and has established contacts there already.

The project hopes to work with Greenland sea kayaker and guide Adam Hansen and Dubliner David Penney, who teaches in North Greenland senior high school in Aasiaat.

Lexmond, who will be “man on land” this year but will join the crew next year.

“As a country, Greenland is truly fascinating,” Monahan says.

“ Famous for its strong Inuit hunters, an incredibly resilient people have built a society where most could not,” he says.

“Having voted to move towards independence from Denmark, and their budget being 65% subsidised by the Danes they must find a way to support themselves,” he says.

“Greenland is now a new Klondyke,” Young adds, as it an estimated 50% of the world's uranium, along with other minerals which China has expressed interest in.

“The debate over the impact of all this is very similar to debates we have had in the west of Ireland on environment versus employment,” Young says.

Ilen Voyage

A separate voyage to Greenland is planned later this summer by the Limerick-built refurbished ketch Ilen, which is almost a century old and is being used for maritime education.

The Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin recently welcomed the Ilen, which was designed by Conor O’Brien, the first Irishman to circumnavigate the world in a small craft.

The Ilen was used for many years in the Falkland Islands as a trading craft, and was shipped back to Ireland over 20 years ago by Limerick artist and sailor Gary McMahon.

McMahon led the effort to rebuild the wooden ketch as part of a cross-community project in O’Brien’s native Limerick, and with master shipwright Liam Hegarty of Oldcourt boatyard close to Baltimore, Co Cork.

Jamie Young’s Greenland voyage can be followed here

Published in Cruising
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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