Jens Munk Island/Peder Oxe Bukta turned out to be a wonderful anchorage with running water, calm winds and a spectacular calving glacier as a backdrop. The crew soon settled in to completing all those jobs that start to add up, with various members disappearing into lockers to ‘sort kit’ or in some cases discover long forgotten, or simply lost underwear.
On arrival most of the team headed up the first obvious hill of around 250m to stretch the legs and scout for ice. The immediate area, particularly the mainland has some really worthwhile objectives though sadly both entrances to the fjord are blocked meaning a future expedition will have to discover many of them. The terrain here is barren with little green showing, other than patches of moss and seaweed at low tide. It would be a hard place to live.
The next day the team (less Mike and Alastair on boat watch/water collection) headed up the biggest immediate objective above the anchorage, a nice rocky and semi-glaciated peak. This turned out to be 630m above us and gave some outstanding views of this wild and surely rarely visited place. Leaving the anchorage the next day we did see one ancient ‘mark’ on a small, sheltered inlet where long ago transient people must have hunted in summer.
The next leg North was spectacular. Some 70nm through labyrinthine ice with icebergs all around us. It always seemed to ‘open up’ as we pushed through, though there is always that awareness of doors closing behind you. We saw a good number of Hooded seals this day (they are rarer further North) and much amusement as a dominant male displayed his inflatable proboscis. We have also been sighting whales and have seen Fin, Humpback and Minke. Fulmars are our most common visitor though yesterday we saw guillemots. As we approached the settlement of Isortoq we also had our first glimpse of humans. A pair of local hunters in a small boat out hunting seals (we think). They passed with a wave and we carried on to another spectacular anchorage on Kitak Island. There was an old Loran station here so we were blessed with detailed charts which almost feels like cheating, though makes anchoring quick and easy.
Civilisation made itself known audibly the next morning with those unfortunate enough to leave their phones on data roaming receiving lots of urgent notifications. I think most of us have been enjoying the slower pace of life without modern phone technology.
We motored out of Kitak for the 30 or so nautical miles towards the settlement of Tasilaq. This leg again had moments of doubt as the fog rolled in, huge tabular icebergs loomed out of the mist and a real moment of excitement as we first heard, then saw waves breaking over a very real and very solid rock. We all looked out that little bit harder after that and reduced speed a little. The 3 day old ice chart was about right though and conditions progressively improved as we neared Tasilaq. We also saw more local small boats whizzing out of the mist, clearly really at home in their local waters.
Now anchored we all assigned to different jobs. Most of the team have gone to the flesh pots of Tasilaq to find fuel lines, outboard mechanics and policemen. We have had various mechanical niggles on the crossing though the breadmaker is going strong so spirits are still high.
Tasilaq itself is a colourful scattering of pre-fabricated houses and a harbour. Tim turned 51 today so we are determined to celebrate in style so are investigating the nightlife potential this evening.
Umiak anchored in Peder Oxe Bukta