IMERPOL continue their Navigation Through Newfoundland

Joëlle & Janusz Kurbiel are members of the polar navigation expedition group IMERPOL and use MaxSea TimeZero software on board. In July they updated us on their current expedition which is taking them through Newfoundland. Here is the latest news from their travels.

Well, the storms and autumn weather are well and truly here!

Luckily, we were able to complete all our planned observations in the North this season and the results are very promising.


Now it is time to focus our attention on the gallant Vagabond’elle vessel to prepare for the harsh winter. There will be lots of snow and temperatures as low as -25°C north of Newfoundland.

IMERPOL's polar navigation

We must repair some damage to the boat, the most important being a leak that we have not yet localised, abnormal engine vibrations, some equipment failures, and especially re-do the paint and varnish work again. All the charms of a wooden boat!

But for now the wind howls in the rigging and we need to wait for a lull…

It gives us great pleasure to share this wonderful adventure.


Catch up on IMERPOL’s other MaxSea blog posts here:

Cold Weather Sailing Guide

Advice on Boat Propellers from Polar Explorers

What kind of boat propellers do you use? Do you take care of them regularly? MaxSea partners from IMERPOL, Joëlle & Janusz Kurbiel explain the importance of your boat’s propellers. Here, they tell us about their experiences during their polar expeditions:

It can be quite a terrifying experience to navigate a vessel when there is no wind for the sails making all movement entirely dependent on the engine and propeller. However, this situation can often arise. It happened to us several times while navigating around the Poles.

Caged vs. Fixed Propellers
A caged and fixed propeller

Caged vs. non-caged fixed propellers

In the Nordic countries, a kind of protective cage is often built around the propeller which is attached to the hull on small vessels.

Even if this cage effectively protects the propeller against large pieces of ice sliding over it, pieces of debris can still get lodged between the spokes. This could be pieces of wood, ropes, nets or tarpaulins floating in the water or even small pieces of ice. This can be a real pain to remove!

We had protective cages on our vessels Vagabond, Vagabond Vagabond’eux and Exploraglobe. However, for our later vessels Vagabond’eur and Vagabond’elle, we finally opted for a fixed propeller which is unprotected but thicker. These propellers were made especially for us, with an oversized rope cutter.

Strengths of fixed propellers:

  • They allow the driftwood or ice to escape on its own, and
  • If the rope cutter is effective against small ropes, it also protects against nets and other coverings
Glacier images IMERPOL
Ice can cause serious damage to your boat propellers

Recently, during the launch of Vagabond’elle, a piece of carpet got twisted around the propeller. We needed to take the boat out of the water and two of us worked for an hour to remove. You’re either lucky or you’re not…

Interested in learning more about IMERPOL? Here are the previous blog posts they have written for MaxSea:

My Favourite books about the Arctic, by Janusz Kurbiel

The Vikings in the conquest of America

Borealis Expedition: pollution of the Arctic

MaxSea Happy Users: Borealis Expedition 2011-2012



Cold Weather Sailing Guide


Diary of IMERPOL’s Polar Navigation

Joëlle & Janusz Kurbiel are members of the polar navigation expedition group IMERPOL and use MaxSea TimeZero software on board. They are currently in Newfoundland, heading northwards. Here is an update of their polar experiences:

Waiting for the ice to melt:

We are still in Newfoundland but can not go further north because we are currently blocked by ice. The icebergs are unusually large for the season in this specific location! We are therefore taking this opportunity to sail between the islands of the north coast to perform various tests.

Cold Weather Sailing Guide

Carpet in the propellers!

Everything is going well except for one incident we experienced when launching: the port staff had used pieces of  carpet on top of the lift straps to avoid damaging the hull as it was being lowered into the water. However, these pieces of carpet were not securely attached and ended up getting caught in the propellers! This is how they looked:

Polar navigation Carpet stuck in PropellersThis stopped the engine instantly. We needed to lift the boat out of the water again and painstakingly cut out all the stuff that was caught so tightly in the blades.

Polar navigation IMERPOL

Since then, Janusz has been hearing a strange noise from the engine. Hopefully the shaft and propeller were not distorted, this would make us totally ineffective… we’ll have to wait and see.

Polar navigation Newfoundland Map

Moving on

A storm from the southwest is forecast in a few days. This should clear the ice away allowing us to move a little further.

Thanks Joelle and Janusz! We wish you the best of luck for the rest of your expedition.

We will keep you updated on their travels.

Catch up on IMERPOL’s other MaxSea blog posts here: