Ice to see you – Adventurers return home on an Irish yacht after Trinity College’s Arctic expedition

An Irish yacht sailed last night in Greenland, home of southern Galway Bay, after a scientific, sailing and mountaineering expedition to the world’s largest and deepest fjord system.

he group of independent adventurers aboard the 13-metre (43-foot) Galway steel ketch Danú have recorded some new mountaineering successes in the remote Scoresby Sound fjord system on Greenland’s east coast.

The ship’s crew also took daily sea and freshwater samples as part of a research project with Trinity College, Dublin’s environmental centre, to assess the extent of the spread of microplastics in Arctic waters and the impact on marine life.

“Fascinating” was how expedition leader and University of Galway scientist Peter Owens described the experience in the Greenland fjord system as the yacht prepared to dock at high tide at Parkmore Pier near Kinvara.

Danú from Galway had left Kilrush, Co Clare, at the end of June and traveled a total of 3,300 nautical miles via Iceland to Greenland and back.

The Scoresby Sound expedition aimed to be self-sufficient in the Arctic, with a strict policy of leaving no footprint on the environment.

“We saw other boats on occasion but if you got into trouble there was nobody living there to help and there were no emergency services,” Mr Owens said.

Mr. Owens from Kinvara is a mountaineer and sailor. There to welcome him and his crew to Parkmore were his wife, Vera Quinlan, and two children, Lilian and Ruairí.

The Owens-Quinlan family spent 14 months sailing, climbing and hiking around the Atlantic on the same yacht some years ago, coming home during Covid-19.

Crew members on the Greenland expedition included Paddy Griffin, both from Kinvara, Co. Galway, English sailor Richard Darley, Paul Murphy from Carran, Co. Clare and Dublin mountaineer Sean Marnane.

The crew experienced challenging weather during their crossing to Iceland, when Atlantic waves shattered one of the yacht’s windows en route, and they had to carry out engine repairs in Husavik on the north coast of Iceland.

They then spent time analyzing the daily ice charts sent from England to plan their passage farther north.

“We left Iceland for Turner Island on the east coast of Greenland and made our way to the settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit where we were given a rifle if we needed it for polar bears,” Mr Owens said.

“As we entered Scoresby Sound, there was fog and we saw what appeared to be a cloud bank ahead – but it was actually pack ice,” Owens said.

They also reached the summit of Hermelintop, a 1172 m high peak with an impressive view of the confluence of three ice-covered fjord systems.

Danú then rounded Milne Land, where it encountered its final piece of concentrated ice that was “constantly breaking, changing, and making big, loud pops,” Owens recalled.

When the crew identified a weather window, they returned to the settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit to leave the rifle behind – which they did not have to use.

They spent nine days returning from Iceland and arrived before Inishbofin a few days ago. Ice to see you – Adventurers return home on an Irish yacht after Trinity College’s Arctic expedition

Fry Electronics Team

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