Itto is just within the vast fjord system of Scoresby Sund which is 350 km long and covers 38,000 square kilometers – one of the longest fjord systems in the world. It was named by William Scoresby, a whaler from Whitby, in 1822, when he came to this uncharted coast in his ship the Baffin. He was the first person to survey and map this shore, though many of his measurements were taken from some miles away due to the pack ice.
He named many of the bays and headlands after friends, family and people he admired, especially those studying navigational phenomena. Indeed, while trapped in the ice off this coast he carried out many observations on the formation of ice crystals in freezing fog, astronomy, measurements of longitude and so on. In 1823 he published his journal of the trip and Jenny had brought along a digital copy. It was fascinating to see Scoresby’s drawings of the very coast we were passing – the mountains looking just as he saw them. His hair-raising encounters with polar bears and the dangerous, brutal work of trying to catch whales (which actually evaded them more often than we might imagine) made fascinating reading.There is more vegetation and wildlife further into the fjord and it would have been interesting to investigate. However, this would have taken at least two days and, looking at the weather forecast, we decided to head back south to be in the best position for a good crossing to Iceland. As we sailed out into the bay, Itto’s little houses were colourful in the sunshine, hugging the bare rocks, not a speck of vegetation in sight. We could see the inhabitants going about their daily activities. It is hard for us to imagine how they survive the long dark, bitter winters.
It was a day of motoring past spectacular icebergs, watching for growlers – huge lumps of ice floating just below the water. We sailed behind bleak Turner Island and moored for the night in Turner Sound, another leg of which we had visited on the way north. This part of the coast seems to be home to several groups of seals.
With the BBQ fired up on the back of Boreal, whale steaks, purchased in Itto, sizzled away. Cooked medium rare its more like venison than beef – a good meal. We were all fairly tired so it was early to bed.