Catching Up

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 13 Jul 2008 04:16
July 12, 2008 23.13
Position: 64 26.1 N 050 12.8 W
At anchor near Kapisillit
Wind: North, moderate breeze
Weather: Overcast, drizzle

It has been a few days since my last log entry. To bring things up to date:
Tuesday 8th
We eventually managed to clear in, my concerns with regards to Bob Cat
proved to be unfounded, I needn't have worried. Thierry from Baloum Gwen
didn't even bother to clear in; he reckons the authorities aren't actually
that interested. Well I like to follow the rules where possible, also I
wanted the stamp in my passport. When the customs person asked whether I
had anything to declare I said a cat (Bob had gone into hiding by the time
she got on board) the customs officer just went "Oh pufffh" and waved her
hand, so that was Bob Cat's clearance in.
I am meeting a few Greenlanders, though I wouldn't say real locals, i.e.
Inuit. There is Jens, an airline pilot, who gave me a few recommendations
as to where I should go, so I will probably broadly follow his advice. Then
the other day I met Paul, the owner of the boat I am tied up to. He was
very nice. It turns out that he is an 'Australian'. His father, Danish, was
serving on a ship during WW2 which was torpedoed, he ended up in Sydney,
fell in love with a Sydney lady, married, Paul was born in Sydney, then at
age two his family moved to Denmark. Later he became a ship's engineer,
travelled frequently between Denmark and Greenland and eventually decided he
loved Greenland and settled here.
People speak mainly Danish and Inuit but it seems a lot of people also speak
English, which of course is very good for me, my Inuit being a bit rusty and
my Danish not much better.
Wednesday 9th
Slept in a bit, bought a pair of hiking boots and nice pair of thick woolen
socks which Bob Cat is now playing with - I think he has a bit if excess
energy, looked into getting some laundry done - going to cost almost $50 for
a bag so I am going to have to work out some other way of cleaning my
clothes, called on the Harbour Master to update the cruising guide here,
visited the museum, checked out what appears to be the one and only
bookstore in town (small, only new books and not much in English - so not
terribly interesting), had a pizza and beer for a late lunch (ridiculous
price for the beer - just going to have to give it up for the time being), a
little grocery shopping and then back to the boat. I was going to leave
tomorrow but the Harbour Master reckons the weather is going to be lousy and
thinks Friday is a better day. I will see what the morning brings.
Thursday 10th
When I woke, as the Harbour Master had foretold, the weather was lousy,
raining and windy, so I rolled over and didn't get out of my warm bunk until
midday, taking a page out of Bob Cat's book.
Another yacht came in yesterday, a big one. The owner came over this
morning asking where to find the Harbour Master. This huge thing, I think
it is about 60 feet, is being sailed by him, his wife and her niece. It
used to be a boat from the British Steel Around the World fleet. Chay Blyth
had this concept of racing one design safe boat around the world for anyone
willing to pay. I think it was a great idea, I believe a few of the berths
were sponsored, but the scheme apparently went broke a few years ago,
probably not exciting enough for sponsors and too expensive for the average
Joe Blow. So this couple picked it up cheap. They have named it Arctic
Tern, it looks a fantastic boat, made of steel, in very good condition,
watertight bulkheads - so ultra safe, but ridiculously big for three people
to manage. They aren't doing the North West Passage, it's the first yacht
I've met this season that isn't, but are planning a cruise similar to mine,
so maybe our paths will cross along the way. Mind you, they do 200 plus
mile days, when I often struggle to make a 100, so they will probably leave
me well behind.
I tried to repair the sea water pump; I use it to rinse dishes at sea to
save fresh water. Unfortunately as I suspected it has a hole in one of the
diaphragms, I have tried to repair it with a bit of silicone but don't hold
much hope that the repair will work, and I am not going to be able get a
spare part or replacement pump in this neck of the woods. Not to worry, no
shortage of fresh water around here. My cruising guide suggests scooping up
ice out of the fjords or finding a stream rather than using the town water
so when I head up the fjord tomorrow I shall try doing this.
Then I had a go at fixing a leak in the heater, it drips a bit of kerosene
which is a nuisance. There is always something to do on board a boat, though
I wish that I could occasionally run out of odd jobs that need doing. That
would be nice.
So I have stayed on board today, didn't feel like going ashore especially in
the rain and I did go over to the Arctic Tern earlier for a coffee and cake
earlier which was very nice. Now I have the heater on, Bob Cat is curled up
on the V Berth cozy and warm, I have a curry simmering in the pressure
cooker letting off a nice aroma into the cabin and helping to warm the boat
up a bit.
Friday 11th
It's been a long day but we got away from Nuuk at last. I actually got up at
4 this morning, making up for my late start yesterday. We got away from Nuuk
nice and early but then had to wait at the fuel dock for someone to turn up
so we could top up. We managed to get away from the fuel dock at 8.30 which
was still pretty good. Then came almost 10 hours of motoring to get to
where we are now, almost at the head of the Godthabfjord. The fjords are
spectacular, and with quite a bit of ice towards the head of it, smaller
pieces in some beautiful delicately carved sculpture, angel wings and
cherubim, giving way to multifaceted bergs, some simply blockish, others
serrated in many sharp edged ridges, old waterlines, as the berg slowly
overturned in uneven intervals. Apparently a large glacier is just over a
rise from where we are, the primary attraction. There is a fishing village
here, Kapisillit, and just to the east of it is a stream which I have
anchored nearby so I can top up with water from it, also here is closer to
the glacier. Once safely at anchor I decided to have a leg stretch and
rowed the dinghy ashore - the first time I've used it this trip - and walked
to the village which was further away then I thought. Seeing as we are
anchored on the opposite side of the stream to the village I had to hop
stepping stones to cross the stream, which actually is quite wide, about 30
feet, and fast flowing. This was a bit of a challenge for me, not as young
and sprightly as of yore, but I made it safely across both ways. My guide
tells me that this is the only stream in Greenland where salmon spawn, and
on the way back as I was jumping stones, a bloody great big salmon near
leaped into my lap. I wish I had a net or something, I am not a great fish
person but this thing looked delicious, maybe I need some fresh protein. Boy
was it beating its brains out trying to get up this stream; the old mating
call is unstoppable. Back to the boat late for a well earned hot meal and
Today Saturday 12th
What a day! It was overcast with a steady drizzle when I looked out the
companionway at about 8 a.m. and I pondered whether I should put off my hike
until the morrow, but after contemplation chose to go anyway, the rain was
very light, I had no idea whether Sunday would be any better when I wanted
to be moving on to somewhere else anyway. After going to the stream to
collect some water for the tanks I proceeded ashore in warm clothes, foul
weather gear and my new hiking boots, these last proving excellent for the
terrain I was to encounter. After walking some distance around the edge of
the bay to where I thought looked a good spot to head across the isthmus to
the fjord on the other side I struck up over a rise which revealed about a
mile or so of flat heath like land on its other side and the fjord beyond
it. The fjord sure enough was full of ice but it did not look too glacier
like in the distance. I struck off down the hill with the goal of getting
to the coastline on the other side for a closer look. About a third of the
way across I was treated to an unexpected and exhilarating sight, a pair of
caribou. One was large with huge antlers and the other small with stubby
antlers. Initially I thought they were male and female, but from their
behaviour and size concluded they were more likely mother and child. When
they saw me they both stopped and stared at me for some time, at this point
I also decided not to move. The smaller seemed very curious and started to
come closer, the larger was much more circumspect and only closed me to
remain near the smaller. They pranced around me about 800 yards away, not
sure which way to go, for some 20 minutes before we mutually decided we were
mostly harmless and respectfully continued on our respective ways.
When I got closer to the 'glacier' as I suspected it proved not to be a
glacier at all but rather nearby to the head of it where all the ice calves
off. I could see no sign of the glacier itself, presumably it has receded
some distance back up the fjord. It was impressive nonetheless, a sea of
ice, chunks and blocks and mountains of it, all pushed against each other,
large masses being over turned by the pressure of one against the other, the
odd rock and islet with ice climbing over and tumbling around, floating in
the water discernible in what few gaps remained. I could hear steady
dripping as all this ice slowly melted in the summer warmth, with the odd
splash as a chunk of ice broke off. I wandered the shoreline foe a while
until I could get down to the beach for an up close inspection. Satisfied I
then decided to climb partway up the peak that disappeared into the low
cloud behind me. I plodded up to 850 feet (my hand-held GPS told me so), I
am no mountain climber especially after so long at sea on a small boat but
the effort was well worth magnificent view, and I thought I've gotten this
far I may was well go for a thousand. I actually made it to 1150 feet
before deciding that was high enough, I was getting up into the cloud anyway
so the view was becoming fuzzier, and from here I was able to see both
fjords either side of the isthmus. I turned for home, skirting around the
edge of the mountain then descending to the valley and the few miles back.
Back at lower altitude I came across the scattered bones of caribou,
including a fine intact antler which I have souvenired, it might make an
unusual hat rack back at the bookstore.
Back at the bay I found the wind had picked up appreciably and had us on a
lee shore, but in these enclosed waters the fetch is short so the waves were
not significant, just large enough so I had to take my shoes and socks off
to wade the dingy far enough away from the shore to give me time to jump in
and man the oars before being pushed directly back onto the beach. Cold
feet, cold hands, damp most of the way through, it was good to get back on
board, for a little rest. Fortunately the anchor was well secured, we were
not dragging at all, and Bob C joined me on the settee for a siesta.

Bob Cat:

My horror story of the week: yesterday I was out on the patio enjoying some
sunshine when Skipper Bob picked me up. I am not actually that keen on
being held but for the sake of sociability I tolerate it. From skipper
Bob's height I could see over the top of the shade cloths surrounding the
patio fence. The Horror! Mountains, water, hard white lumpy things
floating in it. Where are we for goodness sake? I was having none of
skipper Bob's attention in those circumstances, I scarpered and headed
straight back downstairs.
It's time for a bit more of a sleep to help me forget such nightmares.