Jamie and Paul Depart

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Thu 22 Jul 2010 00:25
70:41.484N 52:08.692W Wednesday night

We all had a good day today but it was sad to see our friends depart. Andrea and I were woken up at 0430 by the sound of propellers and a bow thruster. I was already puzzling over how our propeller could be turning without our engine being on before I realised it was another boat. Andrea looked out and could see a red fishing boat through the mist. I think they must have been very surprised to find us strung out across their favourite spot. I got up with Richard and Kali for a 0700 departure and Jamie was already up to give us a hand as well. The fishing boat arriving hadn't woken any of them up so maybe it takes a large bit of ice bashing into the bow to disturb them.

We got underway into the fog which soon cleared so we could see the bergs rather than just avoid them on the radar. It's much more relaxing when you can see properly and we had a fast passage to Qaersut where the boys were due to catch the first of their flights back home. We had our lunch underway and dropped anchor off Qaersut at 1330, half an hour ahead of schedule. We were a bit short on diesel to get us up to Upernavik, our next proper port, so we wanted to get some today to make sure we had enough with some to spare. This was going to be an exercise as Qaersut doesn't have a pier or any kind of harbour. It's just a village perched on the edge of the sea with a shingle beach and some rocks. We were anchored off the beach in the open sea with massive bergs passing not very far away.

Richard took Andrea and Kali ashore to see if they could get what we wanted and, true to form, they came up trumps. Not only would the locals sell us the diesel, they would lend us 2 x 25 litre plastic jerry cans to carry it in. So we started a diesel relay with Jamie getting the cans filled, then carrying them to Richard in the tender who then brought them out to me on Saxon Blue. I got busy with the jiggle syphon (a syphon with a one-way valve in the end that you just shake in the fluid and it gets sucked in so you don't get a mouthful) and the funnel and got the cans emptied into our forward port tank. Then the same process in reverse. We did 5 trips in all so ended up with 250 litres - more than enough to get us to Upernavik plus we had a similar amount already onboard.

By this time, Kali had also sorted out getting the boys to the airport for their flight so I went ashore to say "Goodbye". It was very sad to see them go. Jamie has been with us for 3 weeks now and had progressed from willing Landsman to Able Seaman and still just as willing. He's worked so hard and clearly enjoyed himself so much that I can't quite think how we're going to manage without him. He even left us some lovely, thoughtful presents so "Thanks Jamie" from us all. Paul had a shorter and more intense trip, coming straight into the most remote, berg-filled area that we've encountered. He loved the remoteness and grandeur and has been ship's photographer since he arrived, giving us some amazing shots. He's also had us in stitches most of the time with his stand-up comedy routine and I think he'd like to live permanently out of mobile-phone range. It made realise how much I miss seeing him every day at work.

The tiny airport sent a pickup truck down to get them both - one of only 2 vehicles in the village as far as I could see - and off they sped. We saw their plane depart later and stood on the deck waving. We had time for a quick look around the village which was by far the most remote we've seen so far. Only about 50 houses, a shop, a small school and a village hall. Not many people in evidence but hundreds of huskies. Andrea even had a local lad fetch her the world's most cute puppy for inspection. Most houses have a rack outside hung with drying seal and fish alongside a couple of traditional design sledges. It was all very neat and tidy but it's hard to imagine what the people do all day. The nearest neighbours are 10 miles away by boat and that's an even smaller settlement. Apart from that, it's the occasional plane or helicopter which I'm sure are too expensive to use very often. It really made me think about what's necessary for a happy life - not that I have any idea whether the people are happy but the village had a pretty cheerful feel about it.

Then we set off for an anchorage 10 miles away which isn't as calm or sheltered as we'd hoped. I'm very tired and was looking forward to a good sleep. With a bit of luck the breeze will die down as we're setting off at 0400 tomorrow morning to get further North towards Upernavik from where we're intending to depart from Greenland towards Canada. To be honest, I could do with a couple of days staying put but I'm not sure when I'll get that luxury.


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