Adventurer Jamie Young has traversed the Atlantic twice as a solo sailor, kayaked around Cape Horn, raced around Rockall and taken a kite buggy to the Antarctic. This weekend, he and an Irish and Dutch crew are sailing north to Greenland, as part of a two-year project documenting the impact of climate crisis on the world’s largest island.
The crew will depart in Young’s 15m aluminium yacht, Killary Flyer, which comes from the Killary fjord on the Galway/Mayo border. It will head west into the Atlantic before setting a course for the 1,500 nautical mile voyage north.
They aim to visit harbours in the west Greenland coastline, where ice ‘highways’ are now affected by warming seas, and communities from the south up to the Arctic Circle as far as Thule are under extreme pressure.
The trip is the first of two to make a documentary about Greenland and the wider Arctic circle, says Mr Young.
He and his crew including Ciaran Lennon, Pauline Jordan, Martin Flood, and film-maker/sailor Vincent Monahan of Duck Upon Rock productions, which is working with Dutch co-producer Marieke Lexmond and her team. The Dutch team includes technical producer Jeroen Hendriks, editor Annette Beil, and director of photography Menno Westendorp, who will fly to Greenland to join the yacht.
The Killary Flyer will be self-sufficient, loaded with kayaks, climbing, and diving gear. Jamie is from Cullybackey, Co Antrim, where his family once ran a linen business that used whalebone to make women’s underwear.
“Seeing the whalebone aroused my interest in the Arctic, and in how whale populations have survived the impact of man,” says Jamie.
He undertook a trip to Greenland with a crew including his son, Shane, in 2013, and has established contacts there already. The project hopes to work with Greenland sea kayaker and guide Adam Hansen and Dubliner David Penney, who teaches in a north Greenland secondary school in Aasiaat.
Ms Lexmond, who will be ‘man on land’ this year but will join the crew next year, says the voyage and the documentary combined are “quite an adventure”, and she is already “feeling a little envious” as she sees them set sail.
“As a country, Greenland is truly fascinating,” says Mr Monahan. “Famous for its strong Inuit hunters, an incredibly resilient people who have built a society where most could not.
“Having voted to move towards independence from Denmark, and their budget being 65% subsidised by the Danes, they must find a way to support themselves. Having huge mineral resource wealth, including 50% of the world’s uranium, they have some big decisions to make in the coming years.”
Follow the expedition on agreenlandstory.com