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OC designer completes Greenland expedition

Posted on 15th September 2023

Owen Clarke designer completes circumnavigation of Newfoundland via Greenland and Labrador!

It’s been a long time in completion: But it’s done; Ashley Perrin and I have sailed Santana, her 30’ Carl Schumacher design back to Nova Scotia, Canada, having circumnavigated Newfoundland, via Greenland and Labrador. We left Halifax in 2018 racing (and winning) The Ocean Route offshore race to the French islands of St Pierre and Miquelon. Hearing stories of the remote beauty of the Newfoundland coast we decided that autumn to carry on cruising, on a high latitude adventure that would see us sailing as far north as the Davis Strait, between Greenland and Baffin Island. Both of us returned to St Pierre in late September when Santana took a short week long cruise to St Johns, was hauled and over-wintered there, ready to sail north in 2019.

High latitude sailing yacht designer Merf Owen of Owen Clarke Design in Greenland who was cruising with his wife Ashley Perrin of Antarctic Arctic Ice Pilot with their yacht Santana in the background

Ashley Perrin of Antarctic Ice Pilot sailing her yacht Santana past an iceberg in the Davis Strait during an expedition to Newfoundland Greenland and Labrador

Although we had no plans for a definite destination, in truth we had prepared our little boat for most anything. Santana was refitted and outfitted for remote cruising; including building a forward watertight bulkhead and fabricating demountable jack-stands which allowed us to haul out anywhere in the north on our own terms, without having to build a cradle. Our cruising kit; more thermal clothing, jerry cans, fender boards sails, spares, removable bow roller, 20kg Rocna anchor and chain were shipped to St Pierre, while kind friends took our racing sails and other gear back to Halifax after the race and stored them for us. Our plan was Newfoundland, Greenland, Labrador and back to St Pierre, but we didn’t account for Covid and it took us five years instead of three.

Iceberg pictured off the coast of Newfoundland from the cruising yacht Santana during a passage from Newfoundland to Greenland and Labrador

Photograph of the west coast of Greenland taken from yacht Santana while motoring up the inside passage during a sailing expedition from Newfoundland to Greenland and back to Labrador

Santana was the first boat in 2019 to launch and head north from St Johns that season. There was snow on the ground and ice in the water all the way north during our ten-day passage to St Anthony. Along the way we were to receive the first of many kindnesses from the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is a land of such beauty and unique history: It is the landing site of Cabot in the Americas, 123 years before the Mayflower, as well as the 11th century Viking settlement of L’Anse au Meadows, on the northern tip of the island. Both places were visited before leaving Santana in St Anthony for six weeks to wait for July to come around, with its warmer days and better weather prospects for the five to six day crossing to Greenland.

High latitude boat designer Merfyn Owen of Owen Clarke Design tying shore lines in an anchorage in West Greenland during a polar cruise on sailing yacht Santana

A photograph of a cruising yacht anchored off Fort York Henleys Harbour Labrador during a polar sailing adventure expedition to Newfoundland Greenland and Labrador

Departing St Anthony on a favourable forecast our course took us first north east to the continental shelf, leaving it’s fog and icebergs behind, before turning to port making for landfall around Aarsuk. It was grey but easy sailing. One afternoon a huge pod of pilot whales joined us, jumped and played around us for hours like dolphins. Days passed, sometimes motoring, never experiencing more than twenty knots of wind, until near disaster struck less than forty miles to the coast. Whilst reaching under jib top and full main the mast sheered at the deck, moved sideways and if it wasn’t for the internal plastic pipe for the electrics, and our quick actions we would have been dis-masted.

A photograph of a cruising yacht anchored in Maskells Harbour Bas D’Or during a polar sailing adventure expedition to Newfoundland Greenland and Labrador

These are the first four paragraphs of a nineteen paragraph article.To read the full story and/or receive high res. images contact  Merfyn Owen

Ashely Perrin is a professional boat captain and owner of Antarctic Ice Pilot, a company offering logistical, expedition leader, and ice pilot services to yachts visiting Antarctic and Arctic waters. Merfyn Owen is a founding partner of the yacht design and naval architecture office Owen Clarke Design former professional skipper and a double Cape-Horner.

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