Monday, August 26, 2013

The Robin Knox-Johnston Greenland connection

During the trip there were a whole series of links to sailing legend Robin Knox-Johnston.

Firstly, as Tillerman spotted, Robin K-J, together with climber Chris Bonington, led an expedition to attempt the first ascent of The Cathedral, a peak in East Greenland. They sailed Suhaili across the Denmark Strait (above) from Reykjavik into Kangerdlugssuaq Fjord where they anchored in a small cove they called Suhaili Bugt.

We also sailed across the Denmark Strait and also entered Kangerdlugssuaq Fjord where we anchored in Suhaili Bugt.

But there were more Robin K-J connections. The yacht we were on was a Clipper 60, built to race around the world for Robin K-J's company, Clipper Ventures plc.

In addition the actual yacht was one that Robin K-J knew well and had sailed frequently - including over to Greenland.

As the expedition with Chris in Suhaili didn't achieve its goal (sorry spoiler there) they returned again with a bigger team and hence boat. They took one the Clipper yachts, namely Antiope (Robin K-J's favourite of the fleet), in an attempt to get into the same fjord.

Alas ice kept them away so they headed back to Iceland, ending up in Isafjordur.

Here they met a chap called Siggi who suggested that they keep the boat in Iceland to give them easy access to Greenland. They responded by suggesting he buy the yacht!

A year or so passed and Siggi bought Antiope and renamed her Aurora.

So not only were we sailing a Clipper yacht it was actually Robin K-J's favourite, one that he had sailed over to Greenland in.

One final link was that when I was shown my bunk I was told it was the one that Robin K-J used when he was sailing Antiope (as it was then).

I reflected as I got to sleep one night that I was in Robin K-J's bunk, in his favourite Clipper anchored in Suheili Bugt where he'd gone climbing with Chris Bonington.

I'd like to say that it inspired me to great feats of seamanship but when I was given the task of using the Zodiac to make fast the first shore line I misjudged the strength of the offshore wind and there was a mad scramble with the paddle.

But it was rather cool all the same.

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