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When the workmanlike-looking 39ft ketch Teddy returned to her familiar drying quayside berth in the deep shelter of Clifden Harbour in mid-September, it marked the completion of skipper Nick Kats’ tenth voyage to the Arctic, and his third detailed visit to the majestic coast of East Greenland.

As ever with the Teddy’s ventures, there was extra purpose to it all, as Nick is a dedicated nutritionist whose researches may lead to him inviting the Teddy’s crews to join him in testing some seemingly revolting local “delicacy”. Years of this seem to have toughened the Kats’ digestion system, for during 2022’s voyage he found one such tested item very nourishing, but a crewman was violently ill. Happily, all got home safe and sound to complete a particularly satisfying voyage.

Published in Sailor of the Month
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The pressures of assembling an ocean-going crew on-line in the highly-constrained times of Coronavirus may have been a factor in experienced Arctic voyager Nick Kats’ decision to cut short what would have been his third cruise from Ireland to East Greenland in his 39ft steel ketch Teddy. Having left Clifden last week, Teddy was making reasonably good progress in the Atlantic and was approaching the halfway stage to Iceland, but the skipper – who has overcome deafness from birth to make some extraordinary voyages – had the feeling that things weren’t working out to create a sufficiently experienced seagoing team among his three new shipmates.

Over the years, he has drawn on the experience and teachability of a total of 35 widely-varied crewmates for long voyages, recruiting them through the Internet. But that was in periods of less pressure, and without limitations on the ports he could visit. However, during this past week, while sailing north, he has reckoned there was insufficient time and space available to have a properly seaworthy setup in place as Teddy sailed into the really demanding seas and weather of the high latitudes.

So the decision was taken to head back, stopping for a rest at St Kilda, and then heading on for an Irish port at Tory island so that the crew could disperse in an amicable fashion. “They were very disappointed but were graceful about it, and we parted on decent terms” the American skipper messaged to “These are three great people, and I hope to stay in contact with them. Getting solid crew is the hardest part of my trips. I had not met any of them before, but that has been the case with most of the 35 total that I’ve taken on my trips. Which isn’t ideal but it is reality, yet in this case it just wasn’t to be.”

Nick KatsNick Kats decided with a heavy heart that this was the voyage that he had to curtail

Published in Cruising
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