A lovely relaxing day in sunny Greenland

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Wed 7 Jul 2010 22:15
60:43.036N 46:02.216W Wednesday evening

Andrea is back! We met her again last night, all as planned, in Qaqortoq.

It was a really long day, though. Richard and I got up ready to leave our anchorage at 0500. It was a beautiful morning, clear and still with a low sun illuminating the mountains around us. It took a while to raise the anchor as Rich had to hose a load of thick mud off the chain - which just goes to show how good the holding is in there. We set off back into the Western end of Prinz Christian Sund and then out into the open sea.

It wasn't long before the fog descended, though. We had small islands to port and the mainland to starboard but saw precious little of either. This area is notorious for poor visibility as the wind blows moist sea air over the cold current coming around Cape Farvell and heading North. The same current also bring the ice and, in poor visibility, that's not a good thought. So, we motored along into a light wind and a much bigger sea than we would expect with us taking it in turns to look out for small chunks of ice amongst the waves. We saw plenty of ice, even with our limited vision and there was loads more on the radar. Each time there was a large berg, there was a lot of small bits near it. In the waves, it was hard to spot them in time to alter course so we really had to concentrate. I must admit that I was happy to see 0800 roll around and hand over to Jamie and Kali. I retired below to catch up on some sleep, waking up again at around 1100.

The sea was still really disturbed. I think this was caused by the uneven sea bed in this area. The soundings shown on the chart are all over the place - everything from 300 meters to 50 meters within a few hundred meters of distance. With the currents flowing through that little lot, I think it would be rough even with no wind. We had a lovely hot lunch at 1200 but I made sure not to eat too much as I wasn't keen to feel ill again. Kali did end up being sick so I wasn't crazy to be worried. Gradually, the visibility improved and then it was clear. What a relief. We could see a series of large bergs out to sea and another bunch in towards the land. These ones were grounded on the reefs near the coast. Along here, the coast is much more shallow with plenty of off-lying dangers so we gave it a wide berth.

It seemed like ages until we reached our waypoint and could make a turn in towards the fjord with Qaqortoq. As we entered, a small cruise ship came out at top speed and headed North. On the other side was an interesting phallic iceberg and, beyond that, the hills further inland. The wind had freshened a bit so we actually sailed into the fjord in the sun which was a real treat after such a hard day. We could see Qaqortoq town straggling up the hillside and, in front of it, the same cruise ship that we'd seen in the sound. As we approached, they raised anchor and also headed off. We dropped the sails and headed into the town, worried that the Pilot book described it as difficult to find anywhere to moor up. As we scanned the wharves, there was a figure in a hat waving wildly and pointing. It didn't take binoculars to work out that Andrea hadn't wasted her time in town and had secured us the best berth, right outside the Harbour Master's office.

So, back to the old routine of fender blanket, fenders, fender boards and mooring lines for the first time since Isafjordur. Andrea took our lines as we came in and that was us all safe again. Lots of hugs and kisses all round along with the stuff you have to do after a long passage. Andrea had booked us into the Hotel for dinner so we had time for a quick drink and then off out. My dinner of Caribou was large and tasty but the others had Halibut which looked like cotton wool to me. Crazy that you can't get decent fish in this most maritime of countries. Anyway, the talk flowed and we had a lovely time.

Andrea's trip back to Saxon Blue sounds like a great one. She'd flown into Reykjavik for two nights and spent one of them in a hotel at the Blue Lagoon so she got plenty of spa-style soaking before departing for Narsasuaq - an ex-US military airstrip just inland from here. She had to spend a night there in the only hotel but had a great meal in the only cafe. Next day, she'd caught a helicopter down to Qaqortoq, arriving around midday so plenty of time to scope out the town and sort out our berthing. She seems to have fitted back into the onboard routine well so I hope she'll be able to recover quickly from a very upsetting time.

A bit about Qaquortoq: it's lovely. To me, that was quite a surprise. The houses look scandinavian, all made of wood and painted in jolly colours. There are loads of 4x4 trucks around, even though there are only a couple of miles of road and I don't think there's any dirt tracks. The supermarket has a massive selection of wine from around the world and fresh French bread. Everyone is super-helpful and friendly. They've been walking by the boat and looking but they're not as shy about saying "Hello" as in the other ports we've visited. The Police were friendly when we did the immigration stuff and so was the guy who sold us his freshly caught Arctic Char - he even went so far as to demonstrate the utterly delicious nature of his freshly caught seal by cutting off a hearty of chunk of its liver and eating it raw. The spare ribs were the blackest meat I've ever seen. That must really build you up.

The harbour has half a dozen reasonable sized trawlers and then loads of smaller motor boats. Some are the open boats with big outboards that I was expecting but there are hundreds of motor cruisers - most families must have one - and they're all in pretty good condition. It looks like a marina on a river somewhere. There are no other sail boats whatsoever so we have the only mast and sails in town which makes us very distinctive. These guys would no more use a sail than we would drive a carriage and horses down to Tescos. The boats are just a tool to get out to go hunting. They went straight from kayak to Suzuki.

Today, we've just been enjoying being in a town. We've done shopping and jobs and drinking Latte. Had a look around the tiny museum which had some lovely traditional kayaks with all their hunting paraphernalia. The ferry came in this afternoon and virtually the whole town turned out to see it arrive. I love that atmosphere you get in the Arrivals area at airports and it was the same here. Everyone excited about seeing their friends and relatives and chatting and hugging each other. It was interesting to watch the people, too. I was expecting a pretty dysfunctional society from what I'd read. Listless people drinking themselves into an early grave while eating too many hamburgers but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, compared to the last time I walked through Southampton, these people are a picture of health. I'm sure they have their problems but they're nowhere near as evident as they are in England. I think a few visitors to Greenland need to look a bit harder at the home they left before criticising.

So, on first impressions, I love Greenland. I can really see why people want to live here and I'm looking forward to seeing more of it.


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