Jamie Young - Gaelforce founder, expedition leader & adventure seeker
As part of a two-year project, a group led by Jamie Young, and with the great support of Gaelforce & Killary Adventure Co, will be filming a documentary about Greenland and the wider Arctic. Jamie is one of the original founders of Gaelforce and was instrumental in bringing one day adventure racing in the form of the original Gaelforce 6 and Gaelforce 12 (now Gaelfore West) to Ireland. He has been a trailblazer in the outdoor adventure field since the 1970's. His favourite motto "Stand still and you are history."
The aim of this year trip is to meet as many people as possible, to learn more about Greenland in its current moment and to explore how they are adapting to environmental, social and economic changes. What can we learn from this?
The vision for this documentary came from Jamie Young, whom many of you may have heard of, but for those who haven’t he is a lifelong adventurer originally from Northern Ireland, however, he has called Connemara, County Galway, his home for nearly 40 years. With a list of expeditionary achievements longer than your arm, we could be writing all day!
Jamie arriving in Greenland in 2013 after the sail from Ireland
The aim of the expedition
At the end of May, we will be sailing from Killary Fjord in Galway to Greenland and continuing up the West Coast. Our crew of skippers, divers and cinematographers will rely on Jamie’s experience in the Arctic waters where his vessel the Killary Flyer will provide a platform for filming as we go. With no roads connecting its villages and the ice ‘highways’ being used less and less due to thinning ice, by boat allows us to connect with communities in villages and outposts from the very South right up into the Arctic Circle, as far as Thule.
Direct Route from Galway to Greenland
There are many reasons for doing a trip like this, certainly nothing about this project is easy. For those with the adventure bug the allure is in the challenge itself, the adventure of a trans-Atlantic voyage or navigating the iceberg-laden waters. Simply experiencing the sheer beauty of Greenland’s landscapes is a once in a lifetime experience. Our ambitions run deeper than the lure of adventure.
Experiencing a culture and way of life built on foundations so different from our own, so intertwined with the yearly cycles of ice, will be very special. This country undergoing huge transformation, both culturally and environmentally, magnifies many challenges in our own society. Because of the amplified warming observed at the poles, the Arctic is considered to be at the face of climate change. And underpinned by a slow but constant melting of the polar sea ice. By mid-century, forecasters say, the sea ice that covers most of the Arctic will be reduced to a strip above Greenland and Canada.
We feel the timing is right. All the more because their way of life is more susceptible to these changes, and with planet wide consequences in terms of sea level and ocean circulation. The rapid melt of Greenlandic glaciers has already had an enormous impact on the delta of Bangladesh and Miami, to name a few
Preperation and Routine
Hightlight of 2019 expedition
Preparing for both filming a documentary and an expedition has meant we have certainly had our hands full. We’ve been making sure every detail is meticulously planned. As the saying goes, only the person with the wheelbarrow in front of them truly knows what’s ahead of them. However, living by the 5 P’s “proper planning prevents poor performance” we hope to be prepared for all eventualities!
TRANS-ATLANTIC: LIFE ON BOARD >> SAIL - EAT – SAIL – NAP – REPEAT
It’s safe to say that all humans love both sleep and food, and having both in the right balance is essential to keep ourselves on an even keel, especially for athletes and adventurers alike. For any sailing expedition, developing a good routine on board for managing sleep and hunger throughout the cycle of watches day and night will be essential for a happy and healthy crew.
When you are on watch, you trim the sails, operate the radar if needs be, fix minor things and talk to the stars (optional). A hydrovane autopilot (a wind-based self-steering mechanism) has been installed for this trip so this should be a help.
FOOD ON BOARD
The daily duties can be grueling enough and certainly burn through the calories so every meal will be greatly appreciated. A fed crew is a happy crew! For the interest of the Gael Force readers we thought we’d take a brief look at how we hope to maintaining a healthy routine during the 3-month expedition.
We will sail direct to Greenland, so any weather than comes across is likely to be… interesting. Cooking conditions will certainly be challenging in the rougher seas, knives flying, boiling water spilling and tomato sauce on the floor should be expected. Pauline Jordan, our multi-talented Mayo woman, a skipper, kayaker, cook and rumour has it a solid tin whistle player, is in the middle of figure out our 5-star menu for what we anticipate to be a crew of voracious appetite. There are many factors to consider when trying to plan meals on-board for a 3-month expedition. Making sure we have enough, will it last, making the perishables last longer, where can we restock, cooking in turbulent seas, using cooking gas efficiently, the list goes on!
Our Thermal Cooker & Recipe Book
We will be using a thermal cooker throughout our trip, a very simple and yet very effective way to make cooking easy (easier) and save gas. They can reduce our gas usage by up to 70% when compared to cooking without. To get right down to practicalities, for a one-pot wonder whack the ingredients in the inner pot, bring it to the boil, take off the stove, put it into the outer pot and leave. The heat is retained and 2/3 hours later we have a meal ready and waiting. A mostly vegetarian diet, tinned and vacuum-packed good will be essential for ensuring meals are balanced with the right mix of carbs, fats and proteins, and calorie-full.
If we’re lucky you might get an on board Nevin Maguire-esque cooking demonstration from the Mid-Atlantic. However, there have been wild accusations that turkey porridge was prepared by a certain boat captain on the last trip so we might want to be selective with the recipe choice!
Thermal Cooker Recipes, not all one-pot-wonders. In theory we should be able to wake up to fresh bread, in theory!
We may be lucky enough to get some local Mattak up in Greenland, this is whale skin with a strip of blubber inside traditionally eaten around Christmas time. However, I’m sure this will be a favourite of the crew!
Local Cuisine. Mattak for dinner, whale skin with a strip of blubber. Photo by Aningaaq R Carlsen - Visit Greenland
SLEEPING …. OR NAPPING
The yacht itself is an old Admirals Cup racing yacht that has been decked out as an expedition vessel. A strong alluminium-hull gave a strong foundation to work with. Built with expedition-ing in mind it is not built for comfort, on the longer blue ocean trips it is more of a napping routine. Essentially, sleep when you can and not getting too comfortable in the bed! Although society keeps a close watch of time digitally, we still maintain our innate connection with the natural signals, the setting and rising of the sun like a rebirth each day. To make things more interesting, as we continue further North, there will be 24-hour light, this can be difficult to adjust to we’ll see how it goes.
The Moon at 2am. 24-hour light in the Northern latitudes of Greenland. Credit Dulra Photography
According to Jamie, it usually takes people 3 to 4 days to get into the swing of things and to adjust to the watches of 4 hours on 4 hours off, depending how we’ll work it this time. You have to be responsible for not annoying your fellow crew members so snorers are not very popular!
Follow the expedition and our story
We’ll be setting sail at the end of May and for anyone interested we’d love you to follow our journey through our Instagram @a_greenland_story and the blog on our website www.agreenlandstory.com/blog. We’ll be posting as we prepare for the trip and as we continue across the Altantic up into the Arctic Circle visiting villages and outposts along the way.
This type of expedition is expensive so we are actively raising funds at the moment. We would love to talk to any corporate sponsors who would like to partner with us and be involved in our journey. We can be contact through our email firstname.lastname@example.org or our Instagram page and website mentioned above
Thanks for reading!
Vincent & The Team – A Greenland Story