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Sail in East Greenland and Scoresby Sound in the Height of Summer

Fly into this almost uninhabited region of East Greenland from Reykjavik in the middle of August and you can start your voyage deep in the Article Circle at 70 degrees latitude. Join your wooden schooner Opal at the seaward end of the huge Scorseby Sound fjord system, near the Inuit village of Ittoqqortoormiit. 

Embark
Wed, 19-08-2020 - 09:30
Reykjavik
Disembark
Wed, 26-08-2020 - 15:30
Reykjavik
Duration
8 Days
Vessel
Opal
Voyage No.
OP190820

Berths and voyage availability

TYPE: 2 Berth Twin Bed Cabin PP. AVAILABILITY: Fully booked. PRICE: 5,105 EUR. BOOK NOW
TYPE: Flight from Reykjavik to Constable Point. AVAILABILITY: Fully booked. PRICE: 995 EUR. BOOK NOW

Opal - Mni Arctic Expedition in Scoresby Sound, East Greenland

IDEAL VOYAGE FOR...

Wilderness lovers, mountain walkers, botanists, and sailors who like self sufficient ships that explore locations where few humans tread. Rock climbers will be looking wistfully at granite spires. Polar bears are a protected species in the huge National Park to the North, but some of our guests here have been lucky to sight polar bears in scoresby sound. 

This voyage would be ideal for beginners who want to try first time sailing holiday in an exciting destination. The prospect of seasickness is very unlikely on these voyages as you are sailing within narrow fjords and the seas are calm with no swell.  Whilst the schooners cover over 300 miles in a week, there is also a lot of time ashore, walking in outstanding mountain landscapes with only low tundra vegetation and a guide to explain the Inuit customs, geology, flora and fauna. 

If you are a keen sailor then be aware that Greenland in summer can have long periods with light winds or calm. For dramatic seas and exhilarating sailing then our Greenland expedition voyages on Tecla, sailing from Iceland and across to the East coast of Greenland and around Cape Farewell to West Greenland may be more suitable.

 However if you like a mixed activity adventure making the best of the wind when it comes, then Hildur, Opal and Donna Wood will set sail whenever possible.

Opal under sail

Fly to Greenland to Join your Sailing Ship

The return flights from Reykjavik, Iceland to Constable Point, Greenland will be reserved for you when you book by our flight brokers in Iceland. This means you don't have to spend days sailing North to reach Greenland. You can start your 7 days in the heart of East Greenland, exploring the remote and magnificent nature of Scoresby Sound Fjord which extends 350 km inland.

Classic Sailing is not a flight broker so we are unable to sell you flights directly. Conveniently our Icelandic schooner owners are Authorised Icelandic Tour Operators and they can. The flight from Iceland Reykjavik Airport to Greenland is reserved for you once your booking application has been approved. To confirm your voyage all you need to do is pay your deposit to Classic Sailing. After that we will simply ask that you pay our Authorised Icelandic Tour operators direct for the Greenland flight element which will be invoiced to you separately. 

Opal kit list

Winds & weather

You can expect temperatures between 2 and 12 degree Celsius, but the area is also known for having very little rain. It can be windy but on clear days and no wind, the sun can be very strong! Due to the long lasting high pressure over Greenland, the weather is usually very still. 

A Flavour of the Week - Not an Itinerary!

Anyone familiar to Classic Sailing will know that we try and create action packed sailing holidays, but you will rarely pin us down to an itinerary as we are all sailors and flexible by nature.  The Greenland High in summer give stable, sunny days with very little wind but crystal clear skies and a full range of mountain panoramas .....but you are next to the second biggest icecap in the world so if the weather does change, then you can have a different kind of polar experience....or some thrilling sailing.

The itinerary may be subject to change for reasons beyond our control, such as changes in airline schedules, flight and ship delays, strikes, weather, sea and ice conditions, government restrictions or emergencies which can be beyond our control. If pack-ice conditions do not permit the planned itinerary to be completed, the captain and expedition leaders will work out the best possible alternative. We reserve the right to change or alter the programme if necessary.

Ittoquoortomiit

Day 1 (Wednesday)

Depart Reykjavík for a flight to Constable Point in Greenland, a small airfield west of Hurry Inlet in Jameson Land. Embark the sailboat and get an introduction and a safety briefing by the crew before sailing towards the village of Ittoqqortoormiit, one of the most isolated villages in the world*. There will be a brief visit, where passengers are able to stroll around and experience the tranquility associated with its remoteness.

Ittoqqortoormiit was founded in the 1925s by people from Ammassalik island. It is the most northerly settlement on the east coast of Greenland. The 450 inhabitants make their living mostly by subsistence hunting of seals narwhales, muskoxen and polar bears. The quaint little houses dot the rocky slopes of south Liverpool Land with magnificent views of Kap Brewster and the Volquart Boons Coast to the south.

* This is a rough schedule. If the conditions do not allow for visiting Ittoqqortoormiit on the first day, it will be done on the last day.

Opal at the entrance to Scorseby Sound
Opal at the entrance to Scorseby Sound

Day 2 (Thursday) – Iceberg Palaces & Inuit Settlement

Sail west between whole palaces of icebergs that gently drift under the influence of the currents in the Arctic waters after calving from the parent glaciers originating in the Inland Ice. Anchor at Hekla Havn, on Denmark Ø, the site of an old Inuit settlement and wintering camp of the first scientific expedition to Scoresby Sund over a hundred years ago. The day ends with a short evening walk exploring Hekla Havn and the surrounding area.

Hildur in Greenland

Day 3 (Friday) – The Day of the Fjords: Massive Mountains & Granite Cliffs

Sail west through the narrow Føhnfjord with the majestic basalt mountains of Gåseland on the port side and 2000 meters high sheer granite cliffs of Milne Land on the starboard side. After being up close to the peculiar looking Red Island and even landfall at the red sandstone shore, the tour continues to the north through Rødefjord which is often filled with both larger icebergs and ice crust from icebergs that are breaking up. We will arrive in Harefjord in the late afternoon where anchors are set.

Day 4 (Saturday) – Hiking & Wildlife Scouting

Make sure to pack your hiking boots because the whole day is spent ashore in Harefjord scouting for muskoxen, snow hares, grouse, geese and other wildlife, which normally graze on the south-facing slopes. This easy to moderate approx. 6-hour hike takes us on top of a ridge where we will have lunch with a breathtaking view over Harefjord, where the terrain drops down on each side and the glacier tongues descend into the sea. Those who prefer less exercise can stroll at the coast or stay on board enjoying the view.

Day 5 (Sunday) – Setting Sails in the Majestic Øfjord

The sailing continues eastwards through the awesome Øfjord. This is one of the most spectacular parts of the trip. Terrific mountain peaks and granite walls tower 2000 meters up from the sea just like if the Cerro Torre (one of the majestic mountains of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field in South America) and Fitzroy river (in Queensland, Australia) has been moved to the Arctic: A true feast for the eyes. Usually, the sea breeze in the Øfjord during the middle of the day allows sails to be set. A close look at some of the most amazing cliffs and a glacier front. This day ends by setting anchors in Jyttes Havn in the late afternoon.

Opal under sail in Greenland

Day 6 (Monday) – Outdoor Adventures & Cooling Down in the Sea

The day is spent hiking in and around Jyttes Havn in Bear Islands as this is possibly one of the nicest and most picturesque anchorages in Scoresby Sund. There are two options of a longer or shorter hike in the Bear Islands, or on the northernmost tip of Milne Land, a short zodiac ride away. Jyttes Havn is the place to try your skills at sea swimming at 71°N and temperatures can be as surprising as 13°C in the summertime. If conditions and time allow, we will tend a bonfire on the beach.

Day 7 (Tuesday) – Archipelagos & Icebergs: Make Sure You Charge Your Batteries

Sailing the channel between the Bear Islands and Milne Land with a breathtaking view of the spectacular archipelago. As we sail into the last evening and night of the trip it is likely that we‘ll be experiencing sights of the largest and the most fascinating icebergs of the journey. This provides a fantastic opportunity for photographs of the majestic and impressive icebergs that are often found in this particular area. When we wake up the next morning we are anchored at the at the airstrip in Constable Point.*

* If conditions do not allow for visiting Ittoqqortoormiit on the first day, it will be done on this day.

Day 8 (Wednesday) – Good Bye Greenland

It's time to say goodbye and board the aircraft at Constable Point and fly back to Reykjavik, Iceland full of memories and stories. 

Opal under sail

 

Greenland Expert at Classic Sailing

Call Debbie in the Classic Sailing Office on 0044 (0) 1872 580022  to talk about Greenland.  She sailed on Hildur in Scorseby Sound in 2012.

On her way there she backpacked in North Iceland National Park and went whale watching.  Debbie has also sailed tall ships in Norway, Antarctica, South Georgia, Falklands and in the Chilean Fjords if you want to compare trips.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • Return transport between the airport and the sailboat in Constable Point.
  • Accommodation on board in made up bunks/beds with shared facilities.
  • All meals on board the sailing ship.
  • Services of the crew, hiking excursions (as per itinerary) and arrangements

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED

We give you the price above for the International flight from Reykjavík – Constable Point in Greenland – Reykjavík to meet your vessel. (when you book a place on the voyage the ships operators will get their Authorised Icelandic Tour Operator to reserve your airplane seat. We ask you to pay the flight element direct to them as Classic Sailing is not a flight broker.)

  • Airfare to and from Iceland (the international airport is Keflavik near Reykjavik and weight allowance for baggage is 20kg)
  • Alcoholic drinks on board
  • Travel Insurance (compulsory on all Classic Sailing Voyages)
  • Visa -Depends on your nationality - if required.

 

 

Reykjavik, Iceland

Latest port updates

Reykjavik Port Pdf

 

Join Tecla in Reykjavik by heading to the yacht harbour in front of the opera house where you will find your ship. When Tecla arrives back into Reykjavik, she is more likely to be in the Old Harbour. Both are next to each other and within walking distance, you can get a bus or taxi right to the boat. 

Joining location for Blue Clipper is likely to be similar to the map below. 

Any changes will be communicated to you before your voyage start date. Make sure you make a note of the ship's number found in your confirmation email in case of any problems on the day. 

How to get here

The City of Reykjavik

The World's northernmost capital is a bright, colourful city. with the flat topped and often snowy mountain of Esja and sea as an attractive backdrop. The lengendary nightlife and hustle and bustle of Reykjavik constrasts strongly with the rest of Iceland.  International flights into Iceland land at the beautifully designed Keflavik Airport with a regular 40 minute shuttle bus to hotel doors in downtown Reykjavik.  Within walking distance of the city centre is the domestic airport which serves flights to Greenland or Husavik in the remote NE corner of Iceland.

This is the most sparsely populated country in Europe with only 318, 000 people on the whole island, leaving it with some of the greatest wilderness areas in Europe.

Air & transfers

Transfer from Keflavik airport to Rekjavik City Centre

Iceland’s Keflavík Airport is the country’s main hub for air travel, situated just 31 miles outside the country’s capital. Built by the USA in 1943, the airport has grown into a major international destination, with a trendy modern terminal. Keflavik was voted favourite European Airport in 2010. It is bright, sunny with tasteful shops and healthy food outlets ....and loads of Viking wisdom on the walls.

Getting from the airport into Reykjavík is easy; Buy a ticket for the transfer coach from the ticket machine or kiosk in the airport (near exit). A new fast freeway, opened in 2008, means that it takes less time than ever to get right into the heart of the capital (about 40 minutes).

Rail & transfers

The Icelanders take flights like we take trains and for the distances involved, they are similar to UK train fares. Flying and driving are the main ways of getting around in Iceland. 

Land of Ice & Fire

Iceland is a small but fiery island where myth and magic meets modern life in spectacular style. Only fully independent from Denmark since 1944, the proud republic has a strong national identity which is reflected in its rich and poetic history.

Regular volcanic eruptions have hewn dramatic landscapes across Iceland’s islands, and the natural scenery is unparalleled around the world. This forbidding and mostly barren land was first settled by the hardy Norse and their legacy is intertwined with nearly all Icelandic life.

Although the coastal edges of Iceland have been claimed for towns and villages, the centre remains uninhabitable, and its spectacular alien vistas remain a strong draw for artists and tourists alike. The influence of the island’s underlying molten magma is never far from sight, with hot springs, geysers and boiling mud pools all to be explored. The volcanic heat is directly contrasted by Iceland’s snowy climate, though northerly temperatures are tempered by warm air from the Atlantic’s Gulf Stream, meaning that it is never uncomfortably cold.

Places to stay, Things to do, Travel companions

Classic Sailing invites to a private facebook group where you can connect with other sailors who have booked with us. If you want to find a travel companion or share ideas on accommodation options before your trip, then posting a request on this is this is a safer option than our public facebook page. (due to data protection laws we cannot pass on contact details for other sailors on your trip directly)

Your travel responsibilities

Passports and Visas***

*** “Classic Sailing cannot cover every possible visa scenario as customers may have dual nationality, or be working or living in a country different from their passport nationality.

To avoid any last-minute stress, we advise you to contact the local embassies of the countries you will be visiting in your country to find out which travel documents you need. Please start early, obtaining a visa can take some time. It is your responsibility to have the right travel documents for all countries you visit during your stay on board.

If you plan to travel onto other destinations please check you have a right to stay in the country too as you may be classed as arriving in a country as ‘yacht sailors in transit’ and not have same rights as a tourist.

Even if you don’t need a visa, please check your passport expiry date is sufficient for country entry requirements.”***

Travel, Health, Vaccinations and Safety

Security for tourists in certain countries, regions or cities can change rapidly. Please check with your own Government Foreign Office for their latest advice for travellers.

UK travellers check under specific destination at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Likewise we suggest you check if there are any recommended or required vaccinations well before departure as some take more than one jab. For UK travellers check out ‘Fit for Travel’ http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations

Travel Insurance

It is compulsory that you have travel insurance to sail on any of our voyages, but you do not have to buy the insurance from us. If you purchase your own please make sure it covers sailing as an activity, and racing if you are racing crew. Most our voyages sail further than 3 miles from the shore so check that you will be covered sailing outside territorial waters.

Classic Sailing recommend Topsail Insurance http://www.classic-sailing.co.uk/travel-insurance They have policies designed for sailing crew on yachts or tall ships, whether you want an annual policy or a single trip. These are suitable for UK based sailors but the page also has links to alternative companies and recommended insurance companies for non UK citizens.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Latest port updates

Reykjavik Port Pdf

 

Join Tecla in Reykjavik by heading to the yacht harbour in front of the opera house where you will find your ship. When Tecla arrives back into Reykjavik, she is more likely to be in the Old Harbour. Both are next to each other and within walking distance, you can get a bus or taxi right to the boat. 

Joining location for Blue Clipper is likely to be similar to the map below. 

Any changes will be communicated to you before your voyage start date. Make sure you make a note of the ship's number found in your confirmation email in case of any problems on the day. 

How to get here

The City of Reykjavik

The World's northernmost capital is a bright, colourful city. with the flat topped and often snowy mountain of Esja and sea as an attractive backdrop. The lengendary nightlife and hustle and bustle of Reykjavik constrasts strongly with the rest of Iceland.  International flights into Iceland land at the beautifully designed Keflavik Airport with a regular 40 minute shuttle bus to hotel doors in downtown Reykjavik.  Within walking distance of the city centre is the domestic airport which serves flights to Greenland or Husavik in the remote NE corner of Iceland.

This is the most sparsely populated country in Europe with only 318, 000 people on the whole island, leaving it with some of the greatest wilderness areas in Europe.

Air & transfers

Transfer from Keflavik airport to Rekjavik City Centre

Iceland’s Keflavík Airport is the country’s main hub for air travel, situated just 31 miles outside the country’s capital. Built by the USA in 1943, the airport has grown into a major international destination, with a trendy modern terminal. Keflavik was voted favourite European Airport in 2010. It is bright, sunny with tasteful shops and healthy food outlets ....and loads of Viking wisdom on the walls.

Getting from the airport into Reykjavík is easy; Buy a ticket for the transfer coach from the ticket machine or kiosk in the airport (near exit). A new fast freeway, opened in 2008, means that it takes less time than ever to get right into the heart of the capital (about 40 minutes).

Rail & transfers

The Icelanders take flights like we take trains and for the distances involved, they are similar to UK train fares. Flying and driving are the main ways of getting around in Iceland. 

Land of Ice & Fire

Iceland is a small but fiery island where myth and magic meets modern life in spectacular style. Only fully independent from Denmark since 1944, the proud republic has a strong national identity which is reflected in its rich and poetic history.

Regular volcanic eruptions have hewn dramatic landscapes across Iceland’s islands, and the natural scenery is unparalleled around the world. This forbidding and mostly barren land was first settled by the hardy Norse and their legacy is intertwined with nearly all Icelandic life.

Although the coastal edges of Iceland have been claimed for towns and villages, the centre remains uninhabitable, and its spectacular alien vistas remain a strong draw for artists and tourists alike. The influence of the island’s underlying molten magma is never far from sight, with hot springs, geysers and boiling mud pools all to be explored. The volcanic heat is directly contrasted by Iceland’s snowy climate, though northerly temperatures are tempered by warm air from the Atlantic’s Gulf Stream, meaning that it is never uncomfortably cold.

Places to stay, Things to do, Travel companions

Classic Sailing invites to a private facebook group where you can connect with other sailors who have booked with us. If you want to find a travel companion or share ideas on accommodation options before your trip, then posting a request on this is this is a safer option than our public facebook page. (due to data protection laws we cannot pass on contact details for other sailors on your trip directly)

Your travel responsibilities

Passports and Visas***

*** “Classic Sailing cannot cover every possible visa scenario as customers may have dual nationality, or be working or living in a country different from their passport nationality.

To avoid any last-minute stress, we advise you to contact the local embassies of the countries you will be visiting in your country to find out which travel documents you need. Please start early, obtaining a visa can take some time. It is your responsibility to have the right travel documents for all countries you visit during your stay on board.

If you plan to travel onto other destinations please check you have a right to stay in the country too as you may be classed as arriving in a country as ‘yacht sailors in transit’ and not have same rights as a tourist.

Even if you don’t need a visa, please check your passport expiry date is sufficient for country entry requirements.”***

Travel, Health, Vaccinations and Safety

Security for tourists in certain countries, regions or cities can change rapidly. Please check with your own Government Foreign Office for their latest advice for travellers.

UK travellers check under specific destination at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Likewise we suggest you check if there are any recommended or required vaccinations well before departure as some take more than one jab. For UK travellers check out ‘Fit for Travel’ http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations

Travel Insurance

It is compulsory that you have travel insurance to sail on any of our voyages, but you do not have to buy the insurance from us. If you purchase your own please make sure it covers sailing as an activity, and racing if you are racing crew. Most our voyages sail further than 3 miles from the shore so check that you will be covered sailing outside territorial waters.

Classic Sailing recommend Topsail Insurance http://www.classic-sailing.co.uk/travel-insurance They have policies designed for sailing crew on yachts or tall ships, whether you want an annual policy or a single trip. These are suitable for UK based sailors but the page also has links to alternative companies and recommended insurance companies for non UK citizens.

Opal

If you want to experience the high Arctic, trek amongst the tundra, sail under towering granite spires and marvel at icebergs and glaciers, then the Opal is a popular choice. A proven ocean going vessel, her schooner rig is elegant and her square sails give you an excuse to climb aloft. As soon as the sea ice melts Opal sails across the Denmark strait for Scorseby Sound to base herself in this extensive 350 km long fjord system for the short but stunning Arctic summer.

Statistics

 

  • Length overall: 108ft (33m)
  • Length on deck: 79ft (24m)

 

  • Year built: 1951/1973 - 1981
  • Vessel type/rig:Gaff Schooner 

 

  • Guest berths: 12
  • Crew berths:    4

 

Or Expert View: What Opal Does Best

Schooner Opal exploring Scorseby Sound, East Greenland

Based in East Greenland for the Arctic Summer

If you want to experience the high Arctic, trek amongst the tundra, sail under towering granite spires and marvel at icebergs and glaciers, then the Icelandic fleet of Opal, Donna Wood, and Hildur are definitely the experts. As soon as the sea ice melts they sail across the Denmark strait for Scorseby Sound and base themselves in this extensive 350 km long fjord system for the short but stunning Arctic summer.

Of the three ships based in Greenland, Opal is arguably the most elegant sailing ship: A proven ocean going vessel, her topsail schooner rig feels more like a tall ship and her square sails give you more of an excuse to climb aloft. The beauty of the 7 day expeditions on Opal is you can fly in to a small airstrip near Ittoqqortoormiit and enjoy flat water sailing and some fantastic trekking ashore. The wildlife is not as prolific as Antarctica but you might see polar bear, walrus, musk ox, arctic foxes, ptarmigan, divers and a variety of seals.  Debbie from Classic Sailing office sailed in Greenland with her new found Icelandic friends a few years ago and the scenery blew her away.

"If you mix the granite spires of Patagonia with the Dolomites, the dazzling flora of Iceland and the ice sculptures of Antarctica....then you are close to the beauty and attraction of Scorseby Sound. It was ridiculously warm and sunny on my trip so I even swam back to the ship ocean after some of the best trekking I have experienced"  Debbie Purser

 

Wilderness trekking in East Greenland. Living on sailing schooner Opal
The guest crew wilderness trekking in East Greenland

Whale Watching Skippers & Greenland Guides

The family run business that runs Opal, Donna Wood and Hildur love restoring wooden vessels and are internationally renowned for their whale watching day sails in Iceland. All three ships are out there in the remarkable Skaljfandi Bay, Iceland from March each year, as it is statistically the best place to see whales in Northern Europe. Consequently the same captain and crew on Opal in Greenland in high summer can tell you a lot about cetaceans and bird life as it is their daily task to educate their guest crews.  In addition the ship carries a guide who can look after you ashore in Greenland and tell you about the wildlife, glaciers and icecap, and the local Inuit culture. They are required to carry a gun ashore for protection from polar bears. Your voyage is outside the National Park so the local Inuit still hunt. Polar bears are more common further North, where there are no humans at all but they have been spotted on Hildur's trips, and they do come South for food. Hildur has a zodiac ships boat on stern davits for quick launch and on a Greenland voyage so it is no trouble to drop guests ashore for an evening walk, and almost every other day when you are not sailing there is a longer trek. 

Opal is 'Carbon Neutral' for Whale Watching in Iceland 

Opal has an electric engine that can be carbon neutral in sailing grounds with reliable winds. When the ship is sailing fast her spinning propeller can re charge batteries. Even if the winds and boat speeds are not high enough for charging, on trips out of her home port she can top up batteries from the geo-thermally generated Icelandic National Grid at night. Unfortunately in Greenland the winds are more fickle so these remote expeditions are harder to offer as low carbon adventures.....but the technology keeps improving and Opal is determined to be at the forefront of green transport developments.

Polar bears are rare in Scorseby Sound but this one was pretty close
Polar bears are rare in Scorseby Sound but this one was pretty close

Ski-ing, Mountaineering & Small Group Adventure

Opal has spacious accommodation for 12 and communal areas so she is popular with Universities and research organisations that want to hire the whole ship for polar or wildlife research. Combine this with her handy home location on the North Coast of Iceland and you have a vessel for clubs or groups of friends who want to go off the beaten track in Iceland or East Greenland. The only snag with this is you have to book early if you want a whole boat charter.

If you don't want to organise an expedition yourself, she has a couple of tried and tested 5-7 day adventures which can be available for individuals or several small groups, using the ship as your base and sailing between landing spots as much as possible:-

Ski to the Sea in Iceland with a ski mountaineering guide. We give you the opportunity to explore the peaks, valleys and fjords of the Hidden Land. With no roads or way of access in the winter and spring seasons, the sea remains the only way to visit the area, offering peaks that rise over 1000 metres and snowfall of epic proportions. Each day the schooner anchors in small bays and coves along the north shore of this spectacular mountain range and then the day is occupied with skiing fresh tracks. 

OR

Week long expeditions in East Greenland, sailing and and trekking in the spectacular Stauning Alps, led by polar explorer Vilborg Arna. There are only one to two dates a year for this incredible expedition, usually in August. (The vessel used for this expedition varies between Opal, Donna Wood or Hildur)

mountains in East Greenland

A WILDERNESS ADVENTURE

Where ever you live and what ever your expectations are be prepared for wilderness adventure on schooner Opal. The backdrop of Greenland, floating Icebergs, wildlife and sailing provide the mix for a very memorable voyage.

Expect Mountanous landscape carved by ice. Greenland is all about awesome scenery on a scale that is hard to comprehend. Fjords over 1km deep, glaciers tumbling off the Greenland icecap, rocky spires and granite walls as good as any in Yosemite or Patagonia. Apart from the inuit in Ittoqqortoormit  and your fellow crew you may never see another another human being. Greenlands silence is profound except for the crack and groan of an iceberg flipping over and is as loud as an avalanche.

Despite hundreds of glaciers carving into the fjords, the sea temperature can reach 12 degrees celsius and after a  breathtaking walk under a hot and cloudless sky you may be tempted to have a swim in the Arctic! Certainly something to boast about when you return home to your family and friends! 

Schooner Opal under sail

SAILING STYLE

As the Greenland high pressure generally brings good stable and dry weather where the winds can be light or flat calm be prepared to grab every opportunity to set those sails. For those with no sailing experience these fjord voyages is ideal for novice sailors and provides the perfect introduction to sailing a large wooden sailing ship without seasickness worries.

The crew will teach you how to set the sails and handle the ropes.  How much you get involved in the sailing, keeping lookout or steering the ship is very much up to you and the mile making is very much in daylight during the Arctic Summer as there is virtually no night until you get into late August. The Icelandic crews are used to offering hospitality and educating guest crews about nature and wildlife, rather than sail training so you may learn more about safety in the mountains than man overboard drills.

If you are a purist sailor who hates to reach for the engine switch, then this is probably not the voyage for you as the narrow parts of Scorseby Sound can be flat calm, or so filled with small bergs in a narrow space it would be impossible to weave around them under sail.

For nature lovers, walker and ornithologists this expedition provides world quality pioneering walks in a wilderness that few humans have ever stepped on. Evidence of Inuit summer hunting camps can be found  amongst the large footprints you are likely to see of the Musk Ox.

Accommodation on Schooner Opal

Opal has a lot more space than her sister ship Hildur but both ships have loads of wooden character, oak beams, Icelandic good taste in furnishings and fittings, soft lighting and cosy features to create your comfortable expedition base. 

On Opal there is a navigation deck house with seating for 6 persons with big windows to see what is going on outside, as well as a spacious saloon to seat 12 plus crew.  Below decks North Sailing have fitted her her out with typical Icelandic good taste, using lots of wood and doing nothing to detract from the solid wood construction of this massively constructed schooner. There are 5 cabins. The guest cabins are mostly two person cabins, some with wash basins.  

There is a separate galley (see photo) and 4 professional crew berths. 

Schooner Opal accommodation-cabins
Double bed with single cabin and two twin cabins

Mostly 2 person cabins

The Opal has six double/twin cabins plus crew facilities. The bunks have reading lights and some cabins have big skylights.

The ship has three bathrooms, two showers. She comfortably fits 12 passengers, plus her crew.The majority of customers with Classic Sailing come as individual travellers, and skippers will alway try and allocate bunks in a fair way to maximise privacy for men and women.  Sailing by its nature is communal and working and living together is part of the experience.

photo right is a cabin with double bunk and single above.

Whilst there are 2 showers onboard Opal, which are available most of the time, please understand on Greenland Expeditions water supply can be limited, therefore we will kindly ask you to adapt to life on board with your crew mates.  Fresh water is from tanks or created by watermaker from seawater.

Linen, warm bedding, blankets and a set of towels is provided so no need to bring a sleeping bag.

Kit List for Greenland Voyages

Please understand, the space onboard is limited, also for luggage storage (please do not bring hard cover luggage). You will receive an info sheet indicating your bunk once your reservation has been confirmed and booked. 

single pilot berth on Opal
single pilot berth on Opal

 

Communal Spaces on Opal

Apart from the action and relaxing on deck there is a lower saloon - close to the galley of course. There is also a seating and coffeedrinking areas in the deckhouse at deck level so you can check the ships position on the chart, keep warm and see out the large windows if you are missing something on deck.

Opal main saloon
Opal main saloon
At deck level there is a deckhouse with seats and tables on schooner Opal
At deck level there is a deckhouse with seats and tables and windows to the outside world

Food & Drink on Board

Our fullboard service includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have put a lot of care in planning supplies and your meals. Occasionally we also serve a light snack during the day, and snacks are also available upon request. Soft drinks and water are available at any time and alcoholic beverage/liquor is for sale onboard at a reasonable price. After you confirm your booking, a Medical Information sheet will be sent to you, gathering information on your health and/or allergies for various foods.

In Greenland there is only one small village for hundreds of miles so each week fresh food is flown in from Iceland for your voyage.  Organic lamb, heaps of salmon, every sort of yoghurt and plenty of fresh vegetables, wild berries and salads are supplemented with Arctic fish, the wonderful smell of freshly baked bread. You will have a chance to eat a typical meal in a local Inuit home too.

Debbie from Classic Sailing sailed in Greenland in 2012 on Hildur and was deeply impressed with the catering in such a remote location and the barbeques were amazing.  There is a chef on board.

 

Opal accommodation - galley
Opal galley is next to the saloon but you can often eat on deck

Acessibility onboard and agility needed ?

Please be aware, the staircases to living quarters have steep stairs but with good railing and parts of the ship have a low ceiling so mind your head. You should also be aware, that transfer between land and schooner Opal is operated by zodiac rubber dinghy (there are no harbours in the whole of Scoresbysund area), so no gangway.  You can join in the sailing, rope handling, steering and help with chores or maintenence but it is not compulsory. Part of the expedition is walking ashore in rugged terrain with a guide.  This is a remote area so please talk to us if you have any medical or fitness concerns.

A BBQ ashore created by the chef. Scorseby Sound Greenland with Icebergs
A BBQ ashore created by the chef. Scorseby Sound Greenland with Icebergs

Opal - Ship Specification

Opal is solid oak with a copper sheathed hull. She was converted to sail in the 1970's and crossed the Atlantic 8 times whilst under a Danish Flag. Now she makes a regular crossing from Iceland to Greenland for her Arctic Season.

Built Germany/ converted to sail 1952 1971
Length overall 108ft  32m
Length on deck 79ft 24m
Beam   7m
draught    
displacement tonnage   127 ton
Two masted schooner - sail area   380 sq m
guest berths for expeditions 12  
day sail max guests 60  
crew 4-5?  

Traditional and Cutting Edge Technology Combined

Opal was originally a Baltic fishing vessel built in 1952. This strongly constructed wooden ship was converted to a blue water sailing schooner in Denmark and her oak hull has copper sheathing. Her Icelandic owners have fitted her out for colder climes. As a company specialising in whale watching they are keen to convert all their wooden (motor and sailing) vessels to electric engines and carbon neutral propulsion. This is easier to do for day sails in Iceland as they can re charge batteries in port with a plug into an national grid powered by geothermal energy. Opal has a silent running electric engine when there is no wind, and can re charge the batteries when under sail (read more below).

Iceberg sculpture from Opal's decks
Iceberg sculpture from Opal's decks

Towards Carbon Neutral Whale Watching

Opal has been fitted with a unique hybrid propulsion system that allows running the ship on renewable energy instead of fossil fuel. When Opal is in home waters running short trips Opal runs on electricity from batteries, which in turn are charged in harbour by green renewable energy from the Icelandic energy grid. In close contact with whales, and with little wind, only electricity is used for propulsion. Offshore on longer trips, if the ship is sailing fast the propeller functions as a turbine to produce electricity for the batteries. In Greenland the winds are mostly too light for this so we can't claim she is totally carbon free here....but its a start.. 

Icelandic Skippers from a Family Business

Our Icelandic sailing partners run four wooden sailing ships and several large wooden fishing vessels converted to whale watching so they have a big pool of potential charter skippers at home in Iceland with good customer skills and lots of wildlife knowledge. The skipper rota for the Greenland voyages is much coverted and you will often find one of the directors of the company as the Captain.

How are they Crewed Professionally?

The family run business, based in Húsavík, North Iceland have now have a fleet of ten wooden vessels. Most the ex oak fishing boats are used for daily whale watching trips along the Icelandic coast and attract dedicated crew from all over the world, who want to work in wildlife eco tourism and raise public awareness about Cetaceans. 

The family run business, based in Húsavík, North Iceland have now have a fleet of ten wooden vessels. Four sailing ships and 6  sturdily built oak fishing boats are used for daily whale watching trips along the Icelandic coast. They attract dedicated crew from all over the world, who want to work in wildlife eco tourism and raise public awareness about Cetaceans. 

Schooner Opal is the biggest and has been operating in Greenland since 2013. Gaff Ketch Donna Wood is the next largest with good accommodation space and classroom areas for expeditions and scientific research. Schooner Hildur is the smallest schooner and was the first to pioneer voyages in Scoresby Sound. As soon as the Greenland sea ice retreats, Opal, Donna Wood and Hildur give up their whale watching and North Iceland tours and head North to Greenland to their summer base in Scoresby Sound.All three will carry a skipper, mate, cook and a guide as a minimum.

 

North Sailing Skipper

All the members of the crew pride themselves on consistently offering outstanding quality experiences from the welcome on board, the quality of the food provided and the sailing adventure - meeting all expectations. As very few people outside Iceland speak Icelandic (similar to Viking Old Norse) all the crew are used to communicating in several languages and English is the common working language for the crew on board. These voyages are popular with Germans, French, Austrian, and Swiss as they love the great outdoors and mountain trekking so German can be a common language socially too.

Captain coming to meet us after a trek to a glacier
Captain coming to meet us after a trek to a glacier
Current sailing grounds

Kit List for Opal

Opal will offer an excellent sailing experience.

Kit List for Opal

Included

  • Sailing instruction 
  • Safety Equipment (Life jackets and harnesses)
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • All meals to include cooked breakfast, lunch, dinner and refreshments throughout the day.
  • Bed linen, duvet, pillows and towels. 


What's Not Included

 

  • Travel to and from the start and end port. 
  • Optional trips or tours taken ashore
  • Meals ashore
  • Alcoholic Beverages

 
What to bring

There is limited storage space on Opal  so please pack all you belongings in a soft rucksack or bag.

  • Footwear: Shoes with a good grip e.g. trainers or sailing deck shoes. Hiking Boots should be of leather (or leather and synthetic) with high cut to give sufficient ankle support. Preferably the sole should be soft but robust. Gore-Tex or alternative waterproof membrane is a preferable extra. 
  • Rubber Boots or second pair of shoes for wet weather or getting in/out of dinghies. 
  • Suntan lotion & sunglasses
  • Bug repellent 
  • Warm clothes incl. scarf, mittens, hat and warm thermal underwear.
  • Clothes that dry quickly like fleeces and thermals. Mix of warm, waterproof & windproof layers. Wool jumpers are warm, even when wet, but can take a while to dry. Merino wool type shirts are good for under layers.
  • Small rucksack for going ashore and water container 
  • Travel insurance documents/any travel tickets
  • Passport for French Voyages, Ireland or any 6 day voyage like Scillies where Brittany might be an alternative option. On French voyages Reciprocal Free Health Care Card for Europe.
  • Personal medicines/ spectacles/ seasick tablets –check which brand if you suffer from asthma or are on regular medication.
  • Camera/binoculars etc

RESERVE YOUR PLACE FOR 7 DAYS WITHOUT FINANCIAL COMMITMENT

As long as the voyage is not about to start, Classic Sailing can reserve your place for 7 days without payment or financial commitment, whilst you talk to your boss, find a home to look after your dog, or check flight prices.

All Classic Sailing need from you is a completed booking form to start the process: We check availability, approve your booking form, and provisionally reserve a berth.  You place is confirmed and booking terms apply, only when you have paid the deposit. We strongly recommend you do not purchase flights or travel tickets until your voyage is fully confirmed.

Solo Sailors and Solo Occupancy

The majority of our sailors sail on their own. The boats will always ensure that solo sailors sharing the same cabin are the same sex. Sole occupancy is available on some vessels which will have an extra % charge which varies by vessel.

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