REPORT NUMBER 5.
July 7th. On Passage in the Fog. Paamuit Northwards.
after a late rise, Pat, Cathal and P. went walking in a
slightly more serious way, eastward towards the head of a
fjord, described as a commonly visited place on summer
weekends for boat outings from Paamuit, in those high H.P.
motorboats, loaded with cans of petrol. The walk was long and
felt wild, none of it over 250 metres, but up and down, around
lakes and over cols (saddles), to see more of the same.
separated by casualness on my part.
I felt vulnerable on my own; if I had a sprain or break
of ankle, I could be here for a fair while. Policeman John had
said that this would be a two and a half hour walk each way.
When that time had elapsed not a sight of the fjord was to be
seen. Up one more ridge I went and then a quarter of an hour
later, there it was, majestic and lonely, but for a vessel of
about 2,000 tons anchored. Wondrous!
the return, on a more northern and direct route, there were
traces of a path from time to time. One and three quarter
hours later I saw the high Paamuit Loran (?) Mast and a half
hour later was on board, 5 minutes behind the lads.
was I and didn't join the others in their trip up the town
that evening. They later claimed to have met a better sort of
citizen, while they caroused and I slept.
I was up at up at 08.00, fresh but with back-pain, hopefully
Away, Eoin and P on watch, into a clear breeze from the
north-west, feeling good, bound for either Fiskenes or
Faeringhaven. Twelve hours later in a pea souper of a fog,
going inshore seemed unattractive. We'd probably keep going
"Eoin is cooking the Arctic Char that Peter, the
Newfoundland-bound Greenlander gave to us, onions sizzling in
our big (500 mm. by 400 mm. ) frying-pan. Pat is e-mailing on
the laptop. Others read. I'm on watch. Thanks be to God for
Radar and GPS. Life's good."
Radio is putting out a police message asking for lookout for a
missing boat, 4
adults and 2 children on board. Left Nanortalik yesterday,
Bound Sarssuq. Overdue."
the fog cleared as we ran up Nuuk Icefjord. The mountains
showed through the sun, the first sun we'd seen in the last
Alongside. To the Sjomansheim for showers and coffee, what a
these Seamen's homes are, for sailors and tourists alike.
We relaxed about. Met French Monique on her 33 footer with her
crew Fred and Herve. They accepted our invitation to dinner
and we all had a great night, Fred, guitar-player and
storyteller keeping us in stitches. Then up town for a last,
quieter drink in the Kristinemut, outside of which there were
two Politi cars. Being a Sunday, it was early closing. Good
nights sleep. ( GNS )
we had a late and an easy start.
Cathal, Harry, Pat and Gearoid, in the inflatable, across to
the Molene Hills, for them to do the walk round, up and back
to the harbour. I had walked these hills in 1993, while Saint
Patrick had a new crankshaft fitted to her Perkins engine. I
dingied by the boatyard, saw the big company trawlers and
crabbers. " All going to dinner to-night on the French
I wrote a technical piece to Jarlath. My back is improving.
Greenland Air Pilot, Jens called.
He had been contacted by John Murray, via Bill Cronin.
Jens will bring back news of the ice up north. Nuuk is busy
and clean, from what I've seen so far, undeserving of the
Lonely Planet critique.
night the French cooked for us 'canard' avec fromage, very
French, great night. Monique, sailing south, after
overwintering the boat in Sisimuit, will be staying well clear
(150) miles of Cape Farewell. She knows four different boats,
including herself in 1983, who had knock-downs there.
of us wouldn't know 4 people who had been there. They had a
shanty-book with, on the cover, a picture of Con McCann and
Raphel McIlhone playing music on the Connacht. Inside there is
a picture of Johnny Moynihan playing with Raphel.
the late morning, after the departure of the French, posting,
etc., we left the harbour as the fog cleared and the sun broke
through. Raised all sail and spotted 3 whales on the east side
of Nuuk peninsula. ('nuuk' is Greenlandic for 'peninsula'.)
jumping about ensued, pointing and camera-work. Hove-to, in
search of the whale, Moby-Dick style. Could we distinguish
them? Not really. They were about 10 metres long or maybe
more, white underside to tail as it raised vertically before
the characteristic plunge.
(We now know it to be the Atlantic Humpback)
need practise to catch the characteristics for identification
with confidence. If we get any good at it or any of the photos
are any good, we'll give them to Simon Berrow or Leo Hallissey
a glorious force 4, we sailed northwards in the inland fjord
system towards our objective, a bay in the island of Sadelo,
where the chart showed that it shallowed sufficiently to get
anchoring depth, our mountain being to one side.
17.30, we dingied ashore, Cathal, Eoin, Harry, Pat and P. and
began the upward walk. Initially we passed through grassy
ground, tufted, with streams of glacial meltwater, mosquitos
abounding but not biting much, then to the rock and boulder
and on to a mixture of snow and rock. There was no danger, no
bother, just keep the plod going, we'd be resting later when
some obstacle looms. We eschewed the first low summit,
rounding it by its shoulder, the boat now a distant spec
2 hours we found our spot, on a col below a rocky ridge, with
the option of climbing onward on some exposed slabs. We
stashed our bags, with Eoin, and carrying rope and cameras
only chose the ridge. Three quarters of an hour later we were
on to the lesser summit of Sermitsioq, having needed the rope
protection for one short section only. The fjords lay all
round beneath us, with bergs freshly calved discharging from
the glaciers. To
seaward lay a plane of cloud below us. There was much
photographing, mutual congratulation at our good fortune in
being here and downward we began.
midnight, in the dusk the lads were back aboard, myself a half
an hour later. I had to detour to retrieve my poles. These I
had thrown down ahead of me, before making a delicate crag
move. Then discretion, or funk, prevailed and I had to climb
back upward, around, down, and search thebottom of the crag to
retrieve my sticks.
had a mighty dinner ready. There was a fast wash down of
sweaty bodies, happily consumed. We slept soundly as we swung
to anchor. Next morning the mist cleared at about 11.Now we're
on our way out of Nuuk Icefjord, bound for Manitsoq-100 miles,
motoring into a light northerly. Manitsoq. Arrived at 06.00.
The sun shining after an unpleasant bumpy passage in force 5
headwinds. 3-hour watches, the odd iceberg, a straight-line
course made for an undemanding if not altogether enjoyable
is nice! I saw a boat with only a 40 HP engine. They normally
are 80 HP and upward. Peter
had done the journey from Paamuit to Nuuk in 5 hours, which
took us over 24 hours. Yes Sir, these fellows get around-- and
it was the nicest of the places we've been to. Even the
Ajo(pronounced Aho), described by the clean-cut young man in
the Seaman's Home as 'disgusting', was grand. Three Danish
nurses who had had coffee in the boat, seemed to have little
clue, or interest in the local scene, otherthan their work in
the local hospital.
Ajo, that same we had been in 1993, that must have been a
Monday, came alive about midnight and ran till about 3, Music
and dancing young and old, the sobriety test for entry to the
music area being the ability to negotiate the stairs. A Dane
hosted a party. I went directly back to the boat and benefited
to a marginal degree, from the extra sleep.
boat moved out at 08.00 on Saturday for Sermilinguaq Fjord.
Beautiful morning. Sighted Atlantic Humpback. Two hours later
we anchored in a cove at the north side, with some difficulty
in getting a hold on the rock bottom, even in only 8 metres,
close to the shore .Put a line ashore to a rock.
Harry, Cathal and P off to climb Mountain 1325, on the hiking
map, for the area, one of three. A fair old effort has been
put into the promotion of tourism in the last 8 years.
are no small mountains in Greenland. Although it looked
closer, as does all in this clean cold air, our upward plod
seemed to take us no nearer. Hairy enough it was on loose
unsound scree, with snow slopes to our right. It was hot and
thirsty, small rivulets of melt water providing welcome
respite, each one being the nicest you've ever tasted. Three
hours of this punishment got us to the crux. A step, or wall
if you like, about 20 metres high, stood in or way. Harry,
ahead, declared it ' doable'. But we 3 lesser mortals, without
a rope as we were, opted to stay put for the ½ hour
it took Harry to 'summit' and return. He did concede to the
need for some 'airy' moves.
took -off down the snow slopes, running, sliding, glissading
and were on shore in an hour, 5 hours out. Gearoid and Eoin
had had a busy enough time of it too. The wind had turned and
they had had to buoy the anchor and shore- line and head away
to avoid being put onto what had become a lee-shore, with the
plunging depths not allowing of re-anchoring. They engined
about, taking in the bird-cliffs, the glaciers and an
thanks lads, we put to sea, down the striking (not a word I
like to use ) Hamborgorsund ,saw numerous whales,
unidentified, and motored/sailed the 100 miles, crossing the
Arctic Circle, to Sisimuit.
formerly Holsteinborg, great harbour of the whaling times and
port of call for expedition ships, so called, the whalers
showed the way for the most part, Dutch first then the Scots.
coast of Greenland was familiar
to the men of Peterhead and Dundee.
day in Sisimuit was cloudy and cool. We took it handy, taking
coffee and showers in the Seamen's Home and chatting to a
couple of articulate
Greenlanders. There had been two suicides in the town this
weekend, both young women, unrelated, one of them one of the
best in Greenland on skis. The national flag outside the
Lutheran church was at half-mast for the service.
some 30 pick-ups and vans were outside the hotel bar-and were
gone in an hour. There was none of the Friday night frenzy. In
a town of 5,000, Greenland's seconds largest, there were none
visited the museum, sod-huts, saw 'umiaqs', currach-like skin
boats, sledge-dogs and sledges, had a couple of beers and in
my case was cornered by a Dane who gave me his version of
Greenland history. I could have been in Malawi listening to an
now Monday morning, July 15th., and we are under all sail,
yankee poled out, in a light following wind., rocks and
islands a half
mile and less to our starboard as we sail northwards on
latitude 54 degrees on our way to Qeqertassuaq , Disco Island,
130 miles to go.
NOTE ON READING.
a thin veneer of culture on our goings-on." *
I long ago got fed-up with that book 'Do Whales Sing--.Instead
of being an expedition / nature book, it evolved as an
insight, very deep, into a north of England village and its
introverted people. I changed to ' A Star Called Henry', Roddy
Doyles factional account of some of the doings of 1916-21, a
different version from that we had in school.
bought two books in Nuuk, as Harry does, both interesting, one
gem, an American / French anthropologists account of her 1929
summer spent in the Upernavic, west Greenland, area. At that
time Greenland was closed to outsiders, by its Danish rulers,
administered very much in the colonial style. Nuuk and the
towns we now know, to a degree, did not yet exist; they came
later, beginning in the 60's, with the well intentioned change
in policy, gathering the people into centres where modern
health, education and work facilities would replace the old
subsistence hunting life. *The other, a heavier tome,"
Crime, Law and Justice In Greenland", deals with the
development of a legal system marrying the Innuit and
Scandanavian systems in
an empathetic way.
Pictures from expedition