Land Ahoy

Jan Mayen off in the distance

Just started what will likely be my group’s final official watch on this outbound leg. Jan Mayen came into view about three hours ago and is visible about 15 miles off the starboard side. We’re making for the southerly point of this southwest-to-northeasterly aligned island, and that point is just about three hours away. We’ll transition to the next watch at 6am and I’ll go right back to sleep for the remaining two hours or so before we reach the anchorage on the north side.

Why back to sleep? Because I was just roused from what had to be the worst sleep of my trip so far. Or I should say: I was roused from having not really slept at all. I’m not sure why I couldn’t sleep, just that I definitely didn’t.

Which is surprising since my group had had a great previous watch. I cooked a decent pasta dinner for everyone and we went on watch at 6pm. At about 7:30pm, the wind came up to about 20 knots apparent AND it moved far enough aft that Jarl and I rolled out the staysail. The minute we did that, our speed on the engine and main alone, which had been hovering in the low 5’s, jumped up to 6.5. Over the next hour, Polar Bear ranged between 6.3 and 7.3 knots, and frankly, was a lot more fun. That wind only lasted an hour before dropping again, at which point we furled the staysail, but it was fun while it lasted. And shortly thereafter, we changed watches.

As a result, I expected a quick, happy drop-off into sleep, but no such luck. So now I’m even more irascible than normal and really feeling the biting breeze and cold temps. It’s in the mid-30s (Farenheit) and the wind is blowing in the teens from off toward Jan Mayen. The island is shrouded in the clouds that form a low ceiling from horizon to horizon. As expected given what we’ve seen from the marine charts and topo maps, Jan Mayen rises quickly and steeply from the Norwegian Sea at the north and south ends, with a low middle area linking the two. The Beerenberg volcano, which our guests will try to climb, forms the northern half of the island.

According to a welcoming email from the island’s station commander, there are three other yachts already anchored at Jan Mayen. I’m assuming at least one of them is for the group of amateur-radio operators that Jarl mentioned upon our departure were en route to the island. If so, I’ll definitely look to connect with them, see if I can’t offer a little assistance…and maybe operate a bit on the ham bands. What can I say? I have nerd tendencies. The other yachts are, presumably, also climbers, since Beerenberg and it’s 2000-meter-plus summit is the main reason people come to Jan Mayen.

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