Mingming’s Next Voyage

»«Monday 1st June 2009

As regards this year's voyage, I intend to leave from Whitehills, on the southern shore of the Moray Firth, and head for Jan Mayen Island (71N 8.5W). As usual I have about six weeks available, and this gives a distance almost exactly equivalent to Burnham on Crouch to Iceland (2007) and Plymouth to the Azores (2008).

Jan Mayen is about 400 miles north-east of Iceland, has an active volcano (Beerenburg), and belongs to Norway. There is a permanent scientific station on the island with about 18 scientists. There are no safe anchorages but, a few offshore hazards apart, the coast is reasonably approachable, with none of the fierce currents and tide races of, say, the Faroes. This is where a series of unhappy events caused the loss of Tilman's first and best-loved pilot cutter Mischief.

The island used to be ice-bound in winter, but this year the east Greenland ice-pack fell short by about 80 miles. If I am lucky enough to get there with time to spare I will head west towards Scoresby Sound (the world's largest fiord) on the Greenland coast, and see what happens.

Mingming has been specially prepared for this voyage. I spent the winter lining the hull and coachroof with one inch thick insulation/flotation foam called Plastazote, this itself then lined with thick carpet. The result is a very high quality padded cell.

I’ve also added 10’ ash sweeps (an old unmatched pair I bought cheap and renovated), to give more motive power in open water. This principally as I could well be sailing close to ice.

Roger Taylor