Monday, July 15, 2013

S/V TOOLUKA advancing in Greenland to challenge a Northwest Passage in 2013


Callsign PF 7588
Registration 20125 ZR 2002
Length 14.15 metres
Displacement 25 tonnes
Hull Construction Steel / insulated
Design Freya design (her smaller predecesor won three Sydney/Hobart races)
canoe stern.
Engine Ford Diesel 4 cylinder 74 hp
Fuel 1400 litres (for approx 1600 miles of motoring)
Fresh Water 1100 litres
Sleeping Berths 8 total - 2 in forward area, 5 in saloon, private skipper's (double) cabin aft.
Cockpit Self draining with foul weather dodger
Electronic Equipment 

  GPS &handheld GPS, sextant
  SIMRAD autopilot
  Radar (48 NM, Koden)
  Depth Sounder (Furuno)
Communications Equipment
  Radio - High Frequency (HF) marine Codan & VHF marine, 2 handheld VHF's
  Sailor Satcom C
  SSB E-mail
Personal Safety Equipment
  Foul weather safety deck harnesses
  life jackets
  10 person life raft with emergency provisions & own EPIRB
  EPIRB - yacht mounted
Galley (fully equipped)
  Gas stove / oven (on gimbals)
  Spacious meal area / table space
  Double sinks & fresh water on tap
  Salt water tap
Other features
  Zodiac tender (6 person) with outboard motor
  Spare Zodiac and outboard as backup
  Deck safety lines throughout vessel
  Self steering
  Wind generator (in addition to charger from diesel eng)
  DC/AC 220 v sinus inverter for charging video camera batteries
  Laptop with Windows XP home
  Low voltage lighting throughout
  Storage capacity for skiis, climbing & film equipment
  Mooring lines, 4 x 120 m, deck reel mounted
  Cabin Heater (flued) for warmth and drying equipment
  Aditional heat exchanger in engine used for general heating.
  Kayak with spray skirt


Tell me more about TOOLUKA:

Dear Tooluka-friends, 

Another year has passed, another season flew by! While the snow outside colours the town white, I am still marvelling here on board over all that happened. The days are now shortening quickly, but a long period of unbroken daylight, from early May till early September, easily compensates for that.
2012 was the year in which I could celebrate the fact I bought Tooluka 10 years ago. Special years, in which many of you partook. It was also the season of another family trip, of the oldest participant (Albert, 85!), of the narwhale hunt from kayaks and of the Canadian east coast! We were allowed a short sniff of that (downwind of the walruses), we visited legendary places and waters. Magical names like the Lancaster Sound were left in our wake and grand impressive landscapes were admired. 

And Tooluka kept going, faithful as ever, a warm and seaworthy home to her sailors.

The new plans! It promises to become a very special season, with just a few trips. A large part will be taken up by the North West Passage, the sailing route north of Canada, until Alaska and the Bering Strait. Ice and weather serving (in Greenlandic: imaqa (maybe)), we’ll spend next winter on the Aleutians or in Alaska.

But before that time there will be opportunities to get to know Greenland (better).

May 10 till May 24 Disko Bugt (o.a. Bowhead whales) 14 days From Aasiaat € 2500,-
June 3 till June 24 Disko Bugt (o.a. National holiday) 21 days From Aasiaat € 3750,-
July 1 till July 23 Disko Bugt, Umanaq Fjord, Upernavik 22 days Aasiaat > Upernavik € 4000,-
July 31 till ± September 20
Upernavik, Northwest Passage, Alaska ±50 days Upernavik > Dutch Harbour (Aleutians)

As you see the NW Passage is planned like 1 long trip. The idea is to sail the original route sailed by Amundsen. The special character of this trip and the uncertainty about ice and weather, made me decide not to change crew underway. If you are interested to be a part of this adventure (and you have the time), then let me know, there are still a few berths available.
Also for other questions or more information, E-mail to
To get a good impression of a Greenlandic trip, you can read the daily updates of the past 4 seasons on the website (under ‘location’). Or look at the pictures as illustration.

Until somewhere in December I hope to enjoy Greenland, this special place, my friends here, Tooluka, the snow, sledge dogs and northern light. Then I will travel to Holland to see my friends and family and be in Enkhuizen for a while. You can always reach me by E-mail, or call, depending on where I am. Greenland lives on GMT-2 hrs (-3 hrs in winter), Holland GMT + 2 hrs (+1 hr in winter).

Warm arctic greetings from Tooluka,
Eef Willems,
Aasiaat, Greenland

During the trips Tooluka makes this season, the location will be transmitted 

via e-mail over shortwave-radio or satellite.

Click here for a larger map.

14-07-2013 positie: 72°18' N 055°01' W - Ujaragtoq fjordje, Qeqertaq
temperatuur: 12 gr
watertemperatuur: 7 gr
wind: variabel
barometer: 1009 hPa
koers: N
mijlen vandaag: 14M
mijlen totaal sinds aasiaat: 459M
Again a wonderful day, after a calm night! A lazy morning, with showers and a good breakfast, after which we went ashore to reconnoitre the little village of Sondre Upernavik. I stayed on board to take the toilet pump to bits, to find a wet wipe in the macerator! Fortunately the motor didn't burn through! At the end of the afternoon we left for a 14 mile stretch north. The first part under sail, but just outside the bay the wind died and the engine took over. Close to the entrance of the fjord we stopped Tooluka and put the dinghy and the kayak over the side. Griet took the kayak, while Hubert and Dirk accompanied her in the dinghy, while every now and then loudly singing an opera (Dirk). Pieter and I sailed Tooluka into this deep narrow fjord and when at anchor we could hear the aria's in the air, beautiful! The mosquito's kept us inside Tooluka, for drinks and dinner, although the weather is gorgeous and the views outside are fantastic. I just returned from a little kayak trip
myself and enjoyed it enormously. Now ready for my bunk, tomorrow we'll see what we'll do. Read more about that tomorrow! Sleep well, Eef

13-07-2013 positie: 72°09' N 055°31' W - Sondre Upernavik
temperatuur: 8 gr
watertemperatuur: 6,7 gr
wind: variabel
barometer: 1008->1012 hPa
koers: W->NW->N
mijlen vandaag: 91M
mijlen totaal sinds aasiaat: 445M
After we continued last night, through relative calmness, the wind picked up again, which made me decide to throw the towel in the ring and return to the anchorage of Illorsuit. At 3.30 the anchor fell, Dirk took the anchor watch, and 3 hours later we got up again and continued. The wind had calmed down and under engine we left, hoping to get some more wind underway. Which didn't happen! What a shame, we had to steam the entire 91 miles. The weather turned beautiful, the wind was either a little westerly or none at all, so progress was good and tonight at 22.30 we dropped the hook again in the bay at this little village of Sondre Upernavik. Now we're enjoying the silence while having a drink and making noise... And I am ready for my bunk, which I will get into very soon after sending off this message! More tomorrow, Eef

12-07-2013 positie: 71°03' N 053°20' W - Illorsuit Sund
temperatuur: 12,5 gr
watertemperatuur: 9 gr
wind: SE-ly 4-1 => NW 6-7 Bft
barometer: 1003->996->1002 hPa
koers: S->NW->N
mijlen vandaag: 46M
mijlen totaal sinds aasiaat: 337M
This morning we received Pierre and Ani for coffee and cake, after which we left for a quick visit of Uummannaq and then went on to the mummie site of Qilakitsoq, just opposite Uummannaq. We were just in time, as one hour behind us came the 25 people of the dutch schooner 'Rembrandt van Rijn'. By that time we had seen the site where the mummies were found (now in the museum in Nuuk) and several other graves. Very interesting place to visit. Just after 16.00 we left again and under jib alone we made nice progress. Until the wind died and we set the main, and then the wind died down and turned against us. Phoo... Not much later it picked up in minutes from a light headwind of maybe 3 knots, to a menacing wind of 30 knots, but by that time we had already bore off towards the lee of Ubekendt Island, to profit from that. 7+ Knots was our share, 23 reefs were quickly taken in, and then it was gone again. Until, guess what, yes, it turned against us again! But now with katabatics a la
Patagonia with water being blown up in the air! Why o why did we have to leave?? Yes, I know the answer, the forcast was for a light S-ly, instead of a stormy N-ly! By now it's 02.00 and we're still on the move, slowly making progress along this coast where there is no shelter whatsoever! We'll see. It may calm down soon, which we hope, or the promised S-ly comes.. More tomorrow! Sleep well, we'll keep the watch, Eef

11-07-2013 positie: 70°41' N 052°08' W - Spraglebugt, Uummannaq
mijlen totaal sinds aasiaat: 291M
This is going to be a very short story, as it's 02.00 at night and I just returned from a visit of friends on the neighbouring boat! We spent a fantastic day here in Uummannaq, where we visited the Children's home, were guided around and had a concert of 24 children, in the age of 5 to 16, playing classical and pop music, on violins, cello's, recorders, flutes and a piano, all under the charismatic and enthusiastic guidance of their venezolan teacher Ron! I had an old flute as a present for them, and believe me, a musical instrument can't have a better life than in the Children's home in Uummannaq! Afterwards we saw some short movies made by the children. We even were invited to join in their evening meal of freshly caught arctic char, which we enjoyed very much. In the evening they decided to show the movie 'Inuk' to us, in the blubber house at the harbour. Dressed in sealskin anoraks, in the unheated area, we enjoyed the movie on a large screen. It's about the life of one of th
e children in the home, his difficult home situation, the changing society and how he deals with that with the help of the home and local hunters. It really is the story of the life of many children in the home and how they get helped to find their own identity and place in society. At 22.00 we walked back over the hills to the anchorage where Tooluka was and found another boat at anchor next to us. I hoped it was the French yacht 'Avannaq, but couldn't read the name. After having dropped our team off on Tooluka I went to check and yes!, it was them! This was a huge surprise, as I have been corresponding with Pierre, an artist and teacher in Uummannaq for over a year, but we had never met so far. This evening was really the last one possible, and then they were at anchor right next to us! So we spent some very pleasant hours and now I'm ready for my bunk. So I'll just send this off and wish you all good night, or good morning, whenever you read it! More tomorrow, Eef

10-07-2013 positie: 70°41' N 052°08' W - Spraglebugt, Uummannaq
temperatuur: 6,2 gr
watertemperatuur: 7,4 gr
wind: kalm -> NW 1-4 Bft
barometer: 1008 hPa
koers: ESE
mijlen vandaag: 55M
mijlen totaal sinds aasiaat: 291M
The day started off with fog, when we hove anchor at 08.30. Fortunately it didn't last too long and after a few hours it cleared, the wind increased and the jib was set (engine switched off). The whole rest of the mileage we could do under sail with speeds between 2 and 7 knots. The wind was variable in strength, but fortunately from the right direction. About halfway we were surprised by a big group of fin whales and their blows. Fantastic sight, especially when one of them surfaced just behind us. The icebergs kept us busy too: the sextant got out and all of us measured the angle between foot and top which, in combination with a distance (radar), gave us the height of the berg: 39 metres. The next berg had 3 formidable arches, of which some small parts calved, but unfortunately not the whole berg. At 21.15 we entered the Spraglebugt, at the west side of Uummannaq Island. In between the rocks and breakers we found our way in and anchored in 10 metres of water. A light swell is s
till running into the bay, the high Uummannaq mountain towering over us. What a beautiful day! Eef

09-07-2013 positie: 70°41' N 054°34' W - Nuussuaq
mijlen totaal sinds aasiaat: 236M
Today we decided to stay here and spend the day hiking and playing ashore, instead of beating into the strong headwind. It was a very pleasant day! We slept in, had a late breakfast and went ashore. The deserted Inuit village was one of the destinations. It's in a good condition and the houses are just lacking their roofs, an item the population took with them when they went on their summer nomadic hunting trips. Dirk stayed closer to Tooluka and enjoyed taking pictures with his macro lens of all the beautiful little flowers. They came out incredibly beautiful! I went up the hill to see what the view was like from up above. After a coffee-tea break on board Dirk and Griet went back again and also hiked up the hill. They came across a fairy tale landscape with a little stream and beautiful mosses. And this all under a bright blue sky in th sunshine. In the meantime dinner is over, musk ox meat balls and for the vegetarians freshly baked cod, with an oysterplant salad, as much local as possible! Right now the wind has died down and the fog is rolling in. Tomorrow we hope to be underway again, we'll let you know by evening! Sleep well, Eef

08-07-2013 positie: 70°41' N 054°34' W - Nuussuaq
temperatuur: 6 gr
watertemperatuur: 3,8 gr
wind: kalm
barometer: 1012 hPa
koers: NW
mijlen vandaag: 33M
mijlen totaal sinds aasiaat: 236M
After midnight the wind quite suddenly died down and progress improved a lot! From a meager 3-4 knots, while short steep waves slowed us down, the speed improved to sometimes as much as 7 knots, a following current helping us. The bright light night was a joy to steam through and just before 06.00 the anchor fell in this little perfectly sheltered bay. The watch system was 2 on, 4 off, Griet and Dirk doing their watch together, while Hubert and Pieter did a watch each. I ran so called chinese watches and went to my bunk after arrival. At 12.00 we slowly got up again and had a good brunch, after which we went ashore to have a stroll over the peninsula, where there is a ruin of an ancient Norse chapel. I picked some of the mertensia maritima, oysterplant, for salad, which is really fresh and tasty. At 18.00 we were back on board and had apple pie as a late lunch, which made dinner of course a little superfluous. But the big salad disappeared anyway, and so did the chocolate mousse
afterwards, although here the team had to give in: it was too much for them to eat! And that means something! More tomorrow, let's see what the weather will do! Eef

07-07-2013 positie: 70°21' N 053°34' W - Vaigat
temperatuur: 10 gr
watertemperatuur: 7 gr
wind: E 4-5 -> kalm -> NW 3-4 Bft
barometer: 1008->1005 hPa
koers: NW
mijlen vandaag: 61M
mijlen totaal sinds aasiaat: 203M
Nearly midnight and we're stil underway. But first how this day started: at 02.45 the wind picked up and our cosy little spot against the cliff became a little less cosy. So I woke up the good guys in the fore peak, to give a hand, and because they would have woken up anyway, when I started the engine. So we left and dropped the hook in a much better spot, nearby and perfectly sheltered against the gusty northerly wind. Around 03.30 we went back to bed but it took a while before the wind calmed down a little and sleep took over from the ever-listening ears. That meant we also slept a little longer, this means: especially the fore peak guys, but at 10.30 I thought they had had enough sleep and to motivate them into the new day they got a cup of tea in their bunks. Just before 12.00 we were underway. Nice breeze, under jib alone up to 6 knots, but it didn't last. The wind died down and then turned against us, so we started the engine again and proceeded through the Vaigat (dutch fo
r blowing gap). So progress has not been magnificent, but the forecast for the coming days is for a strong N-ly wind, so better make the 100 miles to the tip of Nuussuaq now, then in the days to come. The sun shone all day, we saw some humpbacks and the atmosphere on board is good, maybe thanks to the cake and apple pie, who knows... Eef

06-07-2013 positie: 69°54' N 051°15' W - Oqaatsut, Ikerasanguaq
temperatuur: 3,6 gr
watertemperatuur: 4,7 gr
wind: kalm, S 2Bft
barometer: 1006->1008 hPa
koers: NNW
mijlen vandaag: 45M
mijlen totaal sinds aasiaat: 142
Before our 10.30 breakfast the fog lifted just enough to see the harbour entrance, so we cast off the lines and left. Once outside we changed course to the N and in about 2 cables visibility (0,2 NM or 350 meters) we could see just enough to anticipate on all the ice around and find a way in between. The sun shone on us from above while the icebergs were set in a milky white light, all in all a magic sight! Progress was good, better than expected, and the thick bands of ice I was expecting stayed out. Past the Klokkerhuk, the S point of Arveprinsens Island, the ice thinned a little more, the wind picked up and the visibility increased. This seduced us into setting the jib and switching off the engine. But from the initial 3,7 knots, it quickly went down again to less than 2 knots, so 45 minutes later we had to start again. At 20.00 we entered this little protected bay and moored against a steep rock, obviously also in use by a fisherman. Moored up against the rock we still have 1
0 meters of water! Food was good, company is good, we're all tired of a long day at sea, so I'm sure we'll all sleep well! This time without all the ice and traffic that characterize the busy harbour of Ilulissat! Sleep well, till tomorrow, Eef

05-07-2013 positie: 69°13' N 051°05' W - Ilulissat
mijlen totaal sinds aasiaat: 97M
We spent the day in Ilulissat, and while having breakfast in the cockpit the fog slowly crept up on us. A little later it seemed to lift again, and that was the sign for the team to hurry and try to get to the ice fjord as quickly as possible. This Unesco World Heritage site is special under all conditions, but lifting fog is probably the most magic situation. So many a SD-card was used again to take pictures of all the ice, with sometimes just the summit of a berg raising up above the fog. Griet, Dirk and Hubert walked the longest hike, while Pieter took the blue-red track combination and spent the remaining time to get his hotel sorted. At the end of the trip he will spend another few days here, before returning to Holland. I stayed close to the boat in case I had to move and managed to get some more stores on board and 2 huge cod-fishes. They looked so good that I decided to use them for dinner tonight and despite the experimental recipe it became a real success! Tarte Tatin f
or dessert and that seemed the end of the day. But no, Dirk decided to check the fjord again for lifting fog and not much later he called us and persuaded all of us to join him. So now, close to 01.00 again, we've just returned from another magical walk to the ice, with even more pictures on the SD-cards! We'll sleep well, hope you will too! Til tomorrow, warm regards, Eef

04-07-2013 positie: 69°13' N 051°05' W - Ilulissat
temperatuur: 7 gr
watertemperatuur: 7 gr
wind: variabel
barometer: 1001->1003 hPa
koers: E
mijlen vandaag: 57M
mijlen totaal sinds aasiaat: 97M
Although the day started grey and cold, it didn't take too long before we were sailing in sunshine again. Around the same time we left the swell behind us, quite strong westerly when we sailed out of the harbour, but while sailing deeper into the Disko Bugt, it got less and less. And with each following hour we saw more and more ice. Huge bergs, one collapsed, we turned around to watch the rest of the berg calve, but then it stopped. From a distance of about 9 miles from Ilulissat it got really thick with ice. We slowed down, but fortunately it opened up a little again, and headway was made. Griet climbed up in the mast to guide us through, while I did most of the steering. At a few miles distance from the harbour, dinner was ready and we stopped the boat to enjoy the silence, the ice and the good lasagne. With the dessert we were able to postpone this intermezzo a little longer, but then it was time to find our way through the last miles of ice and enter into the harbour. Arriva
l 22.30. Thanks to all the steaming there was plenty of hot water to take showers, so we grabbed the opportunity! Now it's well after midnight and we're all clean, enjoying a glass of wine, wondering about all the beauty we saw today. At the same time a thin layer of fog is slowly creeping up from outside the harbour. What a spectacle! Never ending beauty!

03-07-2013 positie: 69°14' N 053°33' W - Qeqertarsuaq
wind: NE 5 Bft
barometer: 990 hPa
mijlen totaal sinds aasiaat: 40M
We enjoyed the day on the hillside of Qeqertarsuaq, just above the Arctic Station, the scientific station here. The reason the station is there is that the flora on this hillside is so incredibly rich and beautiful that Mr Porsild, a Dane, started this scientific station in 1906. Since then lots of scientists have been doing research here, not just on flora, but also on fauna, both at land and in the sea. Lilly, a Danish botanist, guided us through the marshes and meadows, between the way too numerous willow bushes, in the meantime showing us all the different plants and flowers. We took many pictures, I followed it in the book and we found all the names in latin, danish, english and where possible dutch. And that all in the radiant sunshine and just enough breeze to keep most of the mosquitos at bay. Some were persistent and some of us decided to use their mosquito net to keep them on a distance. A fantastic afternoon, very interesting and beautiful, with as last fantastic flower the small white orchid! Vanilla-scenting, beautiful, fragile, what a privilege to see them!
Tonight we ate the 3 big cods we got from the Aasiaat market, the soup made of the bones and heads will serve as lunch tomorrow, when we hope to be underway to Ilulissat, in calm weather, and maybe even westerly wind! Read more about that tomorrow! Sleep well, Eef

02-07-2013 positie: 69°14' N 053°33' W - Qeqertarssuaq (Disko Island)
temperatuur: 7,2 gr
watertemperatuur: 7,6 gr
wind: ENE 4 Bft
barometer: 1001->995 hPa
koers: NNW
mijlen vandaag: 40M
mijlen totaal sinds aasiaat: 40M
This morning the moment of saying goodbye to Aasiaat had arrived. After a last good hug, my dear friend Peter helped casting off the lines and off we were. Tears in my eyes, Aasiaat and Peter have been special! The sun shone from a clear sky and although the wind was opposite for our plan to sail direction Ilulissat, this plan was quickly changed to give us a favourable wind, but then direction Qeqertarssuaq. Just as easily we choose another destination, that's what makes these trips so special and easy going! The ENE wind picked up a little more and under full sail we easily made 7+ knots. The first icebergs were of course widely photographed, the view was brilliant and everybody was impressed by Tooluka's seagoing performance. Until the seas got a little higher and the Belgian part of our team stopped enjoying it so much. Eventually the found a better spot inside Tooluka's cabin and laid down the rest of the trip in horizontal position. Just over 6 hours later the anchor fell in the harbour of Qeqertarssuaq. The sailing had been absolutely marvellous! The plan is to stay here tomorrow, as the wind forecast is for more wind from the East, while Thursday should give us a light Westerly. So plenty of hiking options here to enjoy, we'll let you know what we've done tomorrow! Sleep well, best regards, Eef

01-07-2013 positie: 68°42' N 052°52' W - Aasiaat
The new group has arrived, we are ready to sail again! I will give a quick introduction: 2 days ago Pieter arrived in town, to first spend some time in the Seaman's home. This morning he came on board and experienced sailor as he is, he has already found his way around the deck, with ropes and winches. This afternoon the rest of the group arrived with the same plane from Kangerlussuaq. Hubert is an old guest from 13,5 years ago, when he joined Meander on a trip to Antarctica. He is an experienced sailor as well. Then Dirk and Griet, our 2 Belgian guests, not sailors, but obviously infected with the polar virus: they made trips to Antarctica, Svalbard and Iceland before. With the 5 of us we have 3 wonderful weeks ahead of us to get to know this part of Greenland. We'll first spend a week or so in the Disko Bugt, with Ilulissat as highlight. Then the 2nd week in the Uummannaq area and the last week in the Upernavik region, where we hope to spend time in front of the Upernavik glacier. Very exiting areas and a nice period of time to enjoy it! We'll keep you posted of what happens to us in our daily updates, keep following us and hopefully you'll enjoy it from a distance. More tomorrow, sleep well from us under the midnight sun, Eef

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