Safely in Upernavik

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Mon 26 Jul 2010 11:22
72:47.285N 56:08.806W Monday morning

We successfully completed the last few miles to Upernavik yesterday and we're now safely moored in the harbour. Bob and the climbers set off from our anchorage just before us - they had to go back to their wall to recover their gear from the top and were to join us in Upernavik later. We pottered along through beautiful fjords just admiring the scenery on a flat calm day. The mountains in this area rise straight out of the sea all along the channels although, often, the water isn't actually very deep. Still, deep enough for us to float as we motored along eating fresh-fish wraps.

We sighted Upernavik airport control tower just after lunch. It's perched right on the top of the island, as is the airport itself. Just around the corner, we found the town dump and, behind it, the town itself. The island is pretty steep, made of rock rounded by glaciers and only sparingly covered in grass and lichen. The brightly coloured houses are scattered over it so that each one is as far from its neighbour in height as it is in distance. They each sit on a wedge of cement and are reached by rows of steps. For some houses, you approach by following the steps downwards, for others, you have to climb up. Perhaps that's an indication of the mentality of the inhabitants. Some love to have an easy trip home, others prefer an easy way out. Above it all towers a huge pile of loose stones - the airport runway. Built right across the top of the island, it looks from below like a crazy dam. We saw a plane take off from it and it must be like launching from the deck of an aircraft carrier.

The harbour isn't very well sheltered and is open to the west but, luckily, there is hardly any swell at the moment. There is a huge iceberg offshore and a smaller one - about the size of church - parked right in the harbour mouth. We passed between that and a concrete quay and had a motor around to see where we should park. We were tempted by the inside of the quay but it was still pretty exposed to the swell. The other dock was in use by fishermen unloading so that was out. Another yacht called Tooluka was anchored by the bow and then tied back to the shore with 2 lines so we decided to do the same alongside them. Andrea drove the tender while Kali did the shorelines, Richard handled the anchor and I reversed us back into position. It went well although I don't think anyone was watching as the whole town were attending a football match.

The skipper of Tooluka, Eef, realised halfway though our maneouver that her friends Richard and Kali were onboard Saxon Blue so came over to say "hello" to them. So we're parked up in the harbour but looking straight out to the open sea with some small rocks protecting the harbour and a series of icebergs sitting outside. Every so often, one of them emits a great crack and sheds a house-sized block of ice. So far, none of these have caused us a problem.

Once we were moored, Richard and I set to work finishing our stantion repair which we're pleased with and then trying (and failing) to locate an air leak in the diesel system. We then changed the fuel filters on the engine so there's only the oil change left to do today. After dinner (wonderful fish again, this time baked, accompanied by cauliflower curry and rice with quinoa) we went over to Tooluka to meet Eef and the clients she's been taking around Greenland for the last 4 weeks.

It's a lovely boat, very different to Saxon Blue but very seaworthy. Built about 30 years ago in Australia, she has a steel hull with Treadmaster on the deck. She carries her mooring warps in drums on deck in true High Latitudes style. She has a hard dodger with a raised pilot house beneath that where the galley and navigation area are located. The saloon is quite narrow as there are pilot berths along both sides. Another two pilot berths are in the forward cabin. There isn't any privacy for the clients but they each have a comfortable sea-berth and the whole effect is very traditional and woody. It's a very lovely boat.

We chatted for a while and then the clients came back onboard with a couple of Serbian artists who are doing a residency in town, all hoping for their dinner. This was delayed while we swapped tales of derring-do on the high seas and had a fine old time, lubricated by lethally strong gin and tonics. By the time we left, it was 10pm and they still hadn't had their dinner. We had demolished a mountain of snacks, though, and everyone seemed happy enough. I forgot to do the blog last night so I'm doing it this morning instead.


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