MONDAY JULY 22nd
' delivery crew' ( Pat Redmond, Cathal De Barra, Eoin Coyle
and Harry Connolly ) have now left-after celebrations in
Illulisat, and Jarlath, Mike Brogan, Frank Nugent, Kevin
Cronin and John Murray are aboard, more celebrations.
this is written, we're on passage ( at 71degrees north, 55
degrees west ) in fog with icebergs, about 5 miles off the
Nugssuaq Penninsula, on our way to Upernivic, the most
northerly of the Greenland towns with any facilities.
to step back a few days.
had to use the engine for the last 100 miles to Disko, as the
wind dropped . Crossing the bay south of Disko, we met
icebergs in plenty. These were from the huge glacier of
Illulisat, beginning their long seaward journey, anticlockwise
around Baffin Bay, south to Labrador before expiring in warmer
waters and, and no doubt giving concern, if not grief, to
navigators along their journey.
the town in Disko, is now called Qeqertassuaq, ('Suaq' means
big, 'siaq' means small ) and formerly was the provincial
capitol. It was there that McClintock called in his vessel
'Fox', for final stores before beginning his search for
Franklin. He wrote
do not know of a more enticing spot in Greenland for a weeks
shooting, fishing and yachting than Diskofjord"
town, village really, is nice in that the buildings are all
single story and there are no taxis rushing about.
a Dane married-in, helped quench our thirst with a
'product-launch' for some new beer-a change from the Tuborg.
But first Harry took Cathal and myself for a walk, a 43
kilometer walk, first crossing the peninsula northwards, along
a valley used in winter as a dog-sled route. Now the ground is
soft and springy, wet in places and tiring. A couple of
stream-crossings in meltwater with boots-off added a touch of
excitement and by-dad we were tired when we made camp that
night. The mosquitos made camp too, on us. The smoke from our
fire helped a little,
only. The two lads slept in Harry's small tent. I bivvied, peeking
out through my bag at the sun on the mountain across the fjord
to the north. Great view, slept poorly.
8.30 we left, us and the mosquitos all, and couldn't say we
were having fun. Then the breeze freshened, the mozzies left
and it was wonderful, tramping along, stopping every couple of
hours or so, beside a lake or a stream. That evening Pat and
the lads on the boat came out to collect us from a stony cove
west of Fortuna Bay.
couple of hours sleep and dinner was the preparation for
Peters 'Pub'. Pat
on flute, Cathal on Feadog and Bodhran and myself stringing
along, introduced the locals to reels and jigs.
for Illulisat, we found the centreboard stuck in 'down'. Its
ability to be lifted is fundamental to this boats use in
uncharted and confined waters. Taking off part of the housing
cover, we could see the problem- about 3 metres underwater. We
sailed for Illulisat, about 60 miles eastward, with this heavy
on our minds.
sea approach to Illulisat was thick with ice for about 4 miles
off. We threaded our way
at 2-3 knots, so it can't have been more than 2 or 3
tenths ice .
the harbour there were many more boats than there had been in
1993, when 'Saint Patrick' was in, co-incidentally also
needing repairs ( to her rudder, after a brush with some
unyielding ice ).
day we did a repair to the centre-board, in fact a better
set-up than the designed arrangement. This required a dive by
Gearoid to attach a new lifting strop to the centre board-a
swim from which he is still thawing out, despite the 7 mm.
Neleraq Hotel is one place where you wouldn't want to be
trying to sleep. The band plays with all buttons in the 'high'
mode, synthesizer, drum-machine and all, 'bangin' it
out-changing every half hour or so for a round of the
'Greenlandic Polka', great craic, not unlike the 'Cor Beirte'
only faster or 'The Stack Of Barley', Aran style.
be a rest to be on the Northwest Passage! .Things look
promising for the crossing of Baffin Bay/ Melville Bay. The
last ice-chart showed a narrow 50 mile band of 3-4/10 ice
only, all very do-able.
be in Upernivic tomorrow evening. There are a few things to do
to the boat, not much, take on water, top up diesel. Frank and
I are hoping to get in a short climb. By Wednesday we should
be on our way to Canadian water.
look like having a route choice as between the usual Melville
Bay one, going north towards Thule, Cape York and then
south-westwards-or more directly in a northwesterly direction.
The ice-chart we
get in by fax in the next day or two will decide for us.
are relieved to confirm at first hand that the boat and crew
are actually progressing as well as the Progress Reports led
to believe! Delighted to find all repairs and provisioning
complete on our arrival. Found all the fresh provisions were
consumed by the 'first-leg' crew and we are now starting to
live off the land-have caught our first load of fish.
'real' skipper, Jarlath, slipped quietly into command of the
boat, which position was gracefully ceded by Paddy ( watch
this space ! )
and 'Donk', his constant traveling companion, are hoping to
beat their previous 'furthest north'.
arrived in Illulisat to blue skies and glorious sunshine, 16
degrees, which has been a rarity in Ireland so far this
Summer. Our introduction to ice, glaciers and icebergs was
immediate. The bright sunshine turned to fog as we dodged the
bergs in 'Iceberg Alley', otherwise known as The Vaigat, on
our way to Upernivic. More later.
thanks to all those who sent greetings.
Glacier at Illulisat is the most prolific in the world,
calving the most and some of the biggest icebergs.
It's awesome to stand near the glacier face and see and
hear this phenomenon occurring.
These huge lumps of dense and very old fresh water ice
take on amazing shapes and best avoided by sailing craft.
They are unpredictable both in movement and stability
because of there varies shapes above and below the water.
Large lumps can suddenly break off, causing the iceberg
to roll as it finds it new centre of gravity.
If a boat is too close when this occurs it could end up
sitting embarrassingly high up on an iceberg floating around
the ocean. This
is also to be avoided. Last
night we had Killala spuds and Westport cabbage with Rooskey
ham boiled in iceberg water. All was enthusiastically consumed leaving little for the
hungry Pomarine Jaeger Skuas (Stercorarius pomarinus) and
Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) which were in evidence at
Good things so far
Fair weather allowing us to
get acclimatized slowly.
i.e. not damp & leaky (we do have some drink
Everything is working (except hot shower)
whiskey after watch
Can get very cold on deck (and will get colder)
much wildlife yet
The degree of harmony on board so far is
ridiculous. - more effort all round required.
Learning a new song
Notes added by Frank Nugent
Disco Bay Area
Expedition July 1845
The Whalefish Islands, Disco Bay on the
West Coast of Greenland, was the last place Francis Crozier,
captain of Terror (Banbridge, County Down) and his ships
company communicated with the outside world.
From her John Franklin aboard Erebus sent his last
dispatch to the admiralty, and where many of the 129 officers
and men of his expedition wrote letters home.
Among those letters Francis Crozier wrote to his old
commander, James Clerk Ross, expressing his fear that they
were too late that season, he wrote " James I wish you
were here, I would have no doubt as to our pursuing the proper
last messages were taken aboard the Baretto Junior, a
transport ship, which had transported its stores to the famous
exploration ships, near Lively, Disco Bay on the 12th of July
1845. The two
ships, which under Ross and Crozier's command, had previously
discovered the Ross Ice-shelf and Mount Erebus and Mount
Terror in Antarctica were last seen by two whaling ships out
of Hull, the Enterprise and the Prince of Wales, during the
last days in July 1845 above Uppernavik, (Northabout's current
Destination) where they were observed, awaiting favorable
conditions to cross Baffin Bay.
Neither men nor ships were ever seen again.
relating to this report
Pictures from expedition