A party on Saxon Blue

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Fri 23 Jul 2010 23:52
72:44.782N 55:40.379W Friday night

Our party guests have just gone home and it's all peaceful on Saxon Blue. We set out today to meet up with our friend Reverend Bob Shepton, an old Greenland hand and we did. I was amazed!

It was an early start again. Kali and Richard got us underway at 0400, then we ran watches so I was on from 1200 until 1600. It was an interesting day as the visibility was good and we were travelling between a series of rocky islands on the port side and the barren mainland on the starboard. We even managed to sail occasionally. It was a bit bouncy at times but we're all pretty used to it now so we still had a hearty lunch.

As it got into early afternoon, we entered a series of fjords. The scenery was similar to Prinz Christian Sund with massive rocky walls rising sheer out of the water. The mountains were funneling the wind so that it was up to 30 odd knots at times and flukey. We saw some massive williwaws screaming across a side fjord so it must have been blowing 50 knots or so over there. (just had to break off there to watch an Arctic Fox trotting along the shore). As we got further into the fjords, the cliffs got more impressive and one in particular stood out. It was sheer from the water upwards for about 800 meters and had a lovely red colour. It looked like something out of a Batman movie. I said to Richard "If I was climbing a cliff up here, that's the one I'd choose".

Richard was sure that the weather was too bad for climbing and that Bob's team would be holed up behind an island further up the fjord. As we got close, I tried to raise them on the VHF but got no reply. We could see into the anchorage before we quite got there and we couldn't see another yacht so I had given up on them as we came around the last corner and Andrea said "There's a boat". It was very cool that, in the whole of Greenland, we'd managed to meet up in a place we discussed back in Oban without any communication since. As we approached the anchorage, a figure appeared on the deck of Dodo's Delight (Bob's boat) and promptly disappeared again. I think they were even more amazed to see us come into view.

They got us on the VHF and we could hear them cheering when they realised that it was Saxon Blue. We anchored up even though it was blowing 20 knots through the bay and sorted ourselves out with a cup of tea before Richard and I went over in our tender to have a nose at their boat and invite them all over for dinner and a shower. Dodo's Delight is a great boat - in fact, she's a Westerly which Saxon Blue kind of is, too - but she's only 32 feet so she's a bit of a squash for Bob and the four climbers with him. When we went onboard, there wasn't much spare space. The climbers had stuff on one of the forward bunks so there were 2 of them plus Bob sleeping in the saloon with one each in the forward and aft cabins. Despite the lack of space, there was a great atmosphere as the climbers had just come down from a successful first ascent of the very rock face we'd been admiring earlier.

The more they told us about their climb, the more amazing it got. They'd stepped straight off Bob's boat onto the vertical rock itself and then proceeded to set up a base camp 150 meters up the face. They sleep in PortaLedges which are like kid's wendy houses that hang off the rock. Each of these has two climbers plus gear, cooking stuff and musical instruments. Once they'd got all their stuff onto the rock, they lived there unsupported for 11 days while they did the climb. One team would find the route up and set up ropes which the others then used to move the camp upwards. When a storm came, they just sat in their Ledges, played their music and waited. They did most of the climbing in the night as that's when the rock was best illuminated. 11 days later, they stepped off the top and walked back down to the boat and then to the anchorage where we found them.

As you'd expect, they were all elated at their success. I'm not suprised. It's hard to convey the impossible nature of what they'd just done and their photographs only served to emphasise what amazing athletes the four of them are. They're all very serious about it and one is a professional climber sponsored by Patagonia so these guys are the elite. I think they've found the perfect skipper in Bob as he's just as keen and brave as them. There was a real feeling of mutual respect.

Anyway, we invited them over for dinner and a hot shower and nobody needed very much persuading to accept. Kali came up with a lovely meal of Arctic Char and, as soon as it was over, they gave us an impromtu concert of folk songs with us joining in as best we could. It was just wonderful to have such good company and such an entertaining evening in such a wild and remote place so far from home. Kali has just run them all (plus a loaf of fresh bread and some of her flapjack) back to Dodo's Delight and I'm sure we'll catch up tomorrow. The wind has died down so it looks like we'll have a peaceful night. What a great day.

Hold the Front Page: latest news. Andrea has caught a lovely cod and another little one that she's put back. The magic bait is bacon. I bet the fish up here don't get to see much of that in their fjord. Looks like another cod hotspot.


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