Boreal ABE 2016 N°6, Thursday 25th August 2016, Amdrup Havn in Scoresby Sound – N70*28′ W21*55′

Our apologies for the lack of news since Tuesday. We could blame it on the satphone poor reception, but as a matter of fact, we have been rather lazy or, to put it more positively, somewhat focused on other tasks. Also we realised that the live GPS tracking went dead due to the battery unit having ran out of juice. It should all be back online now.So let’s catch up on the last few days.

On Wednesday, the day after our arrival in Greenland, we took the decision to sail North towards Scoresby Sound instead of the original plan to get South towards Kangerlussuaq. First, the wind was pushing us up North and second that would give us a chance to see an Inuit settlement. So we left Høst Havn under a nice blue sky and paid a visit to the front of the glacier in Barclay Bugt. This one was somewhat less impressive than those we saw in Spitzbergen last year but, owing to the greater depth of the fjord, it can calve much larger icebergs. 

As soon as we left Barclay Bugt, we could see a trail of icebergs of different shapes and sizes. They are carried South by the East Greenland current. That cold current seems also to produce a thick layer of fog a couple of miles from the land, up to about 5nm offshore. So we made our way North towards Kap Dalton in a blanket of grey with a low visibility. The crew was on active growler watch with several bergs showing on the radar. Apart from the engine noise, which the crew can quickly ignore, Boreal is progressing on mirror surface, with no other sound around. Suddenly, we heard the vent of whales but only could catch a glimpse as they soon disappeared in the mist.

As we passed Kap Dalton, the fog progressively lifted and the sun illuminated a huge iceberg. That put us off track for a moment as more icebergs made an appearance – wedge icebergs with their tilted flat tops due to uneven erosion, pinnacle icebergs with their spires or pyramids, domed icebergs looking like a iced cakes just out of the oven. Their colours range from chalky white tops to aquamarine bases, glittering under the sun. By now, all cameras had accumulated a few megabytes of photos. No doubt it will be quite a job to select the best ones.

After a one-day passage, we entered into Rømer Fjord rounding up past Turner Island. Seals were spotted but no sign of polar bears although allegedly they were around. We sailed up the South West arm of Rømer Fjord, which is uncharted, taking a slow pace as the depth varied from 100m to 5m in a random pattern. We ‘discovered’ two islands, soon christened Greg and Jenny islands, while that part of the fjord, which we keenly imagined unexplored, we named Muriel Bay. For some reason, and probably to expiate their guilt, explorers through history have named places after those they have left at home and who patiently await their return. In the small head of the bay we chose to moor and named it Michelle Head. A large iceberg seemed to be grounded in the fjord. Greg soon called it the Monk as one of the spire was carved like a friar in his habit. 

We went ashore for a walk, having taken with us towels and swimming suits. Indeed, there were hot springs fuming in the cold air. Setting foot ashore, we spotted several skeletons of seals and the rifle was promptly taken out of its bag. Visiting the hot pools, they turned out quite shallow for a bathe and far too hot for any normal human being. Having no appetite to be cooked like lobsters, we passed by and progressed over the rocky landscape towards Michelle Head where there was a trappers’ hut. It was boarded up but a nice hammock outside provided an opportunity for Inuit style sunbathing while Greg practised a few shots with the rifle. He could not confirm having hit his intended target, but no doubt the deafening noise would have scared any living animals in the vicinity. 

After a restful night, we woke up early for another push North. Leaving our haven, we saw that our Monk had decided to take a leave of absence and sail off out to sea. We cautiously navigated Turner Sund to avoid the many shoals, while being surrounded by seals. We soon emerged on the North side of Turner Island and sailed out into the open sea. 

Sighting a very large iceberg, we decided that was our opportunity for a great photo shoot of Boreal and we launched the tender with a photo crew – a rather rock n’roll exercise in the tossing sea. Greg steered Boreal in front of the berg while the camera shutters rattled. Many more bergs passed by as we kept sailing North, and one had a huge arch through it, part of it collapsed with a massive splash into the sea. 

Rounding Kap Brewster at the entrance of Scoresby Sound was painful as we had to motor against 25kn North Easterly headwind. Eventually, we could put up the sails and make fast progress towards Kap Tobin and the Inuit settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit. Given our late arrival, we went straight to Amdrup Havn, one mile East of Itto, to spend the night at anchor.