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Ireland’s West Coast Arctic Sailing Fan Logs Tenth Iceland Visit And Third To Greenland

22nd September 2022
Geological heaven….The 39ft ketch Teddy (Nick Kats) from Clifden on the Greenland coast in August this year at South Channel, Milne Land
Geological heaven….The 39ft ketch Teddy (Nick Kats) from Clifden on the Greenland coast in August this year at South Channel, Milne Land Credit: Karl

Nick Kats of Clifden and originally America is always looking to the north for new cruises with his hefty 39ft Danish-built Bermudan ketch Teddy. And when we say “north”, we mean Arctic voyaging and a continuing fascination with Iceland and Greenland, for Nick and the Teddy every so often shape their course for high latitudes in much the same way most of the rest of us would contemplate another cruise to West Cork.

When Teddy with her international crew returned recently to Clifden without fuss or fanfare, it marked the completion of Nick’s tenth visit to Iceland, and his third detailed cruise in East Greenland. And as his voyages have included going on north to Jan Mayen, one of his crew managed to get a crystal-clear image of that remote island’s often fog-shrouded icy peak of Beerenberg, which is a rare pearl indeed.

 Seldom seen, never forgotten……as recorded on one of Teddy’s ten Arctic cruises, the rarely fully visible Beerenberg on Jan Mayen is one of the most epic sights in high latitudes cruising Seldom seen, never forgotten……as recorded on one of Teddy’s ten Arctic cruises, the rarely fully visible Beerenberg on Jan Mayen is one of the most epic sights in high latitudes cruising

In fact, thanks to his online-recruited crew inevitably including some top class photographers, the collected images of the Teddy Arctic cruises make for an impressive and informative display. You can get the flavour of it in this year’s cruise blog Teddytoarctic2022.blogspot.com. And “flavour” is the operative word , for in addition to many other interests, Nick is a nutritionist and an organic grower at his place in West Connemara, which gives added insight to the many meals – some of them decidedly experimental – consumed during the course of this well-fed venture.

MEETING DANU FROM GALWAY

Yet while the assumption is that Arctic voyaging boats will be largely on their own, and will be the only visitor when they get to some hidden little port, one point of particular interest in this tenth northern cruise was the number of other boats now regularly cruising in the region, some of which they knew already. Thus they met up with Peter Owens and his researching crew aboard Danu from Galway, and as Nick drily records: “We socialized”. Where two Irish-based boats are involved, those two words are open to any and many interpretations.

Nick Kats is very much his own manNick Kats is very much his own man

 Greenland cruising expects some isolation, as with Teddy at this abandoned Innuit village, but there was also some high-powered socialising with sailing legends Greenland cruising expects some isolation, as with Teddy at this abandoned Innuit village, but there was also some high-powered socialising with sailing legends

NORTHABOUT FROM CLEW BAY SAILS ON WITH ALL-FEMALE CREW

Then there was a real blast from the past with a get-together at Scoresbysund with Northabout, the purpose-built alloy-constructed expedition yacht put together by owner Jarlath Cunnane of Mayo and Paddy Barry and their team more than twenty years ago. The boat built, they sailed Northabout out from Westport to an astonishing career which included a global circumnavigation via the two northern routes, and two awards of the ultra-elite Blue Water Medal of the Cruising Club of America.

In this the Centenary Year of the CCA, that in itself is enough to remember with celebration. But Nick Kats was further pleased to report that they found Northabout - now under French ownership - to be “one very happy boat - eight crew on board, all women, four sailors, three mountaineers, and one photographer.”

A true sailing marathon man met up with was Trevor Robertson, going solo on his Alajuela 38 – he logged his 400,000 ocean miles quite some time ago. And then there were Jurgen and Claudia Kirchberger from Austria with the Americas-circuiting La Belle Epoque – you can find more about them through Fortgeblasen.

The successful end of a great era – Northabout returns to Clew Bay after her award-winning Arctic global circuitThe successful end of a great era – Northabout returns to Clew Bay after her award-winning Arctic global circuit

Men of the west and the Arctic – Jarlath Cunnane with Dr Mick Brogan and some of Northabout’s many crews at Westport Quay. Northabout continues Arctic voyaging, but now under French ownership.Men of the west and the Arctic – Jarlath Cunnane with Dr Mick Brogan and some of Northabout’s many crews at Westport Quay. Northabout continues Arctic voyaging, but now under French ownership 

GREENLAND CRUISING GUIDE

Another memorable gathering was with Germany’s senior Arctic voyager Arved Fuchs with his very traditional Dag Aaen. So clearly there are times when the North Water seems more like a highway than a destination. And the numbers visiting will be likely increased by John Henderson and Helen Gould from Scotland - another cruising team met by the Teddy crew - for they are sailing along through ice and clear water alike, preparing “a quality sailor’s guide” to Greenland.

Germany’s Arved Fuchs has long found his vocation in Arctic cruisingGermany’s Arved Fuchs has long found his vocation in Arctic cruising

Pedants of language will wonder whether that will be a high quality publication, or a guide aimed at high quality sailors, or indeed if sales are going to be limited to members of “the quality” who happen to go sailing. Have it as you wish. But meanwhile Ireland’s west coast now scores remarkably well for seasoned Arctic sailors, with Jarlath Cunnane up on Clew Bay, Nick Kats in Clifden Harbour, Paddy Barry (just back from Svalbard) at Mannin Bay near Ballyconneelly, and Peter Owens back home with Vera Quinlan and their family near Kinvara. It’s a formidable line-up.

“Peace after stormy seas….” – Nick Kats’ Teddy (centre) in her sheltered drying berth at Clifden Quay. Photo: W M Nixon“Peace after stormy seas….” – Nick Kats’ Teddy (centre) in her sheltered drying berth at Clifden Quay. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in Cruising
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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