What could possibly go wrong?
Tasilaq was a good place to re-charge batteries, get the outboard sorted (water ingress in the fuel during the crossing) and re-fuel. Mike was pleasantly surprised with Greenlandic diesel prices and his weight saving strategy of bringing empty fuel containers has paid off. 2 days is enough though and the crew were keen to push on and get in to wilder places.
We weighed anchor early on the 29th and set off into thickening ice, looking to head North. Quickly we experienced the now familiar highs and lows of finding leads and dead ends with equal frequency. The lows rapidly increased as mid ice flow Umiak lost all drive.
It’s hard to describe the rush of thoughts and emotions as you rapidly try and assess all eventualities at times like these. Suffice to say a team with clear and critical thinking, and a mix of skills eases the despair (and the simple truth in places like Greenland you just have to get on with it).
The initial problem was getting Umiak out of the pack ice into clearer water. The tender was launched and Gringo and Olly towed us out where we could take stock and try and find out exactly what had happened. We used a GoPro to shoot images of the prop and it looked sound, though barely turned. On investigating further we found the Aqua Drive had sheared from the gear box flange which was another low moment.
But, with the situation stabilised we slowly sailed and started to try and engineer a solution. We were able to extract all the studs that had sheared and cut new ones from spare bolts. Nyloc nuts were borrowed from winches and after much trial and error we had drive again.
Again, we entered the ice and tried to get to Kulusuk but it proved too difficult. An about turn saw us heading once again to Tasilaq but disappointingly we thought it was too thick. In the interim a lead had opened to Kulusuk so again we headed that way and managed to get in.
We went ashore where Helen Spencely (friend of Tim’s) of Pirhuk kindly helped us rifle through their extensive spares in case a further repair is needed. The village had a quiet and authentic feel to it and we wished we could’ve spent longer there.
With increasing ice on the coast Mike suggested we pull ‘an all nighter’ and sail in to clearer water via the Angmagssalik Fjord to the Sermiligaq Fjord and the heads of the Knud Rasmussen and Karale Glaciers.
This we did seeing Fin and Humpack whales in greater numbers than we have and different birdlife (Terns and Cormarant). We also passed the remnants of a US airfield which was part of their early warning system. A beautiful anchorage was taken around 4 am where we all rested until breakfast and then headed further in for a proper recce of the area.
We are now anchored and various objectives surround us. We will take it turns to venture out on various projects leaving 2 crew onboard.
Ice watch in Sermiligak Fjord