A day in the Sound

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Tue 6 Jul 2010 00:36
59:59.725N 044:24.828W Monday evening

It was pretty choppy last night so I didn't sleep as soundly as I hoped what with the naughty waves smacking Saxon Blue on the bottom all night. Still, I woke up and looked at the clock - about 0930 so a good long sleep. Got into the loo, still naked and the engine started. Uh oh, not good. Got dressed very quick to find Richard at the helm and Kali getting the anchor up. The wind had swung round and picked up and we were getting too close to the rocks - the anchor had probably dragged a bit as it reset itself but too close for comfort. I took over from Richard and we were off. So, a pretty hectic start to the day. It was only after a bit of breakfast that I looked at the saloon clock and realised it was still only 0800 so I hadn't set my little clock to Greenland time and hadn't had a long sleep after all. Hey ho!

We were straight back into the main Sound and Jamie (described by Richard as "born keen") was eager to get onto an iceberg. He produced a lightweight iceaxe - which looked to me like something from a Christmas cracker - and started looking for a likely berg. I think he had something the size of Ireland in mind but we soon persuaded him to try something smaller. After all, it was all a photo-op and we needed to see him, the whole of the iceberg and some background for it to look any good. We suggested something the size of a car, or mabye a mini or perhaps even a skateboard.

We rejected a few bergs and then found an ideal candidate, even parked outside a small glacier for extra paparazzi appeal. Jamie got togged up and I planned our approach to the berg. This was a bit tricky as the wind was up to about 18 knots and we had to approach into it, meaning the bow would blow off sideways as soon as I took the way off. I couldn't use the bow thruster as there was too much danger of damaging it with bits of ice from the berg. As it happens, the berg did shed a lump as we approached but, as I wasn't going to be jumping onto it, I was less concerned than one particular member of the party. Still, Jamie wasn't about to be put off so we headed on in there.

I got the bow to within about a foot of the berg - which put Jamie over the top of it thanks to the rake on our stem - and he jumped on and dug the iceaxe in for dear life. We backed away and there he was. I don't think he expected it to be quite so dramatic and he later described an instant feeling of "I shouldn't really be here". We were too busy taking pictures on all the cameras and telling him to climb to the top point and strike a series of heroic poses. It looked stupendous. A blue-white lump of ice floating in the green water. The Sound receding into the distance with other bergs and a glacier down one side. And on the top, our intrepid chum dressed in bright yellow and grinning fit to burst. Now to go get him - after a bit of joshing, of course.

The wind had got up even more by now and I had to get Saxon Blue right to where Jamie was for him to climb back onto the bow. The first time I tried it, we got blown off before I could get to him - I think he must have started to wonder how long he was on there for. I went around and tried again and this time was good. The stainless bow protector just touched the ice - that's what it's there for, after all - and Jamie was back onboard so fast I don't think he touched the stainless. He was elated but I think he was very relieved to be safely back on board.

After all the excitement, we carried on motoring along the Sound and into a series of dog-legs in the middle. The mountains were getting even higher and even sharper. We chose another fjord to anchor and have lunch among a bunch of grounded icebergs and all promptly fell asleep for an hour. We were awoken by a viking on the radio, got some tea on the go to wake ourselves up and headed back into the main Sound. Funny, I thought, that iceberg ahead looks just like a ship. Sure enough, there was a 600 foot cruise ship coming towards us. Our courses converged as they headed towards the only tiny settlement in the Sound - where we were going too. They slowed down outside the harbour and we motored past them, waving cheerily to the pensioners (sorry John) onboard. We could get right into the harbour of the settlement through the 20 meter wide entrance so we went in for a look. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to stay as it looked really interesting with small but very smart coloured houses and lots of friendly kids running around. I think we'd have tried it if the dock was free but there was already a supply ship tied up there so we turned around and headed out again.

The cruise ship was still there so we carried on down the Sound with them now following us. I didn't like that arrangement so we sneaked round the back of a berg so they passed us and we followed on behind again. The advantage of this is that they gave a sense of scale to the mountains around us. The cliffs here are enormous. One was almost 1500 meters high - that's a vertical mile of solid granite with ledges and cracks up it. I couldn't really get my head around how huge the scenery here is. It's a climber's paradise and Jamie and Richard spent ages discussing routes and techniques for getting to the tops.

By now, we were almost out of the Sound so we chose an anchorage among the mountains and headed in there. We're in it now and it's stunning. The water tonight is totally calm so there is good prospect of a long sleep although Richard and I are getting up at 0500 to set off and meet Andrea. There is more greenery here than we've seen so far and it looks very like Scotland. The others have been out climbing the hills and rolling boulders down into the sea (apparently, this is part of Jamie's Mountain Leader training) and I've been doing a bit of housekeeping and writing this. Now, all I have to do is drink some hot chocolate and get to bed. Tomorrow, I get to see my lovely Andrea again and that's a very good thing - it's been too long since she was onboard with us. I hope she adjusts back to life on Saxon Blue again quickly - I'm sure she will.

Nerd Note: I'm now getting radio contact with Lunenberg in Nova Scotia rather than Belgium so I'll be sending this via a coast radio station on the American continent - we're getting there!


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