How to prepare for an arctic expedition?

Preparing for an arctic expedition

Last autumn the task of preparing a Narwhal to spend six months in the arctic, undertaking seven separate expeditions, including two ocean research expeditions and involving a total of 30 crew members seemed more than a little bit daunting. We had just returned from Norway, tying up to the dock in Clyde Marina weary from our 1000nm return passage to Scotland. My brain was still a whirl of weather forecasts, tide times and navigational information. With so much to plan it was hard to know how we were going to manage it, or indeed where to start. Fortunately I was able to fall back on my two tried and trusted tools for planning anything from arctic expeditions to mountain marathons… a list and cup of tea!

On the cusp of embarking on the aforementioned 6 month arctic expedition, here is a little insight into some of the things that went into making it happen. Spoiler alert, it involved more than 1 cup of tea, and come to think of it more than one list…

Lifted Narwhal out of the water - Clyde marina gave her undersides a much needed scrub!

Lifted Narwhal out of the water - Clyde marina gave her undersides a much needed scrub!

Fitted a new ‘cuddy’ to enclose the aft cockpit and keep off the rain, with a hard top bolted in place…

Fitted a new ‘cuddy’ to enclose the aft cockpit and keep off the rain, with a hard top bolted in place…

… and flexible roll down sides. (This job involved too many cups of tea to count!)

… and flexible roll down sides. (This job involved too many cups of tea to count!)

A new radar was one of the rolling upgrades.

A new radar was one of the rolling upgrades.

Running repairs included making a new boom bag to replace the rather tired old one. Using the old one as a template, I should have been happy that the new one would be the correct size but it was quite a relief when it was finally installed and it Velcro-ed closed around the sail!

Running repairs included making a new boom bag to replace the rather tired old one. Using the old one as a template, I should have been happy that the new one would be the correct size but it was quite a relief when it was finally installed and it Velcro-ed closed around the sail!

In our quest to have as little impact on the environment as possible we installed some renewable power systems. Look out for a separate blog post on how we installed the wind, solar and hydrogenerator power and a comparison of which is working best.

In our quest to have as little impact on the environment as possible we installed some renewable power systems. Look out for a separate blog post on how we installed the wind, solar and hydrogenerator power and a comparison of which is working best.

The business end of the hydrogenerator

The business end of the hydrogenerator

Probably the upgrade that we are most looking forward to using, and have tested the most extensively iis the new stove / heater. Here Eric is doing phase one of the installation.

Probably the upgrade that we are most looking forward to using, and have tested the most extensively iis the new stove / heater. Here Eric is doing phase one of the installation.

Narwhal was put back in the water

Narwhal was put back in the water

Lots of planning work went into our expedition itineraries

Lots of planning work went into our expedition itineraries

as well as into planning our scientific research projects.

as well as into planning our scientific research projects.

Then there was the shopping! Aaah, the shopping! This is just one of three massive shopping runs.  I think we should have enough tea bags and toilet rolls!

Then there was the shopping! Aaah, the shopping! This is just one of three massive shopping runs.

I think we should have enough tea bags and toilet rolls!

And one of my favourite jobs,… sharing all of our adventures with you!

And one of my favourite jobs,… sharing all of our adventures with you!