3 : South-West Greenland (August 6th, 2015)
After 6 days on the open sea, we have made a radical style
change: during 10 consecutive days, Nanuq becomes a moving
base camp. We head from one mooring to the other, exploring
the grenlandic backcountry. A wild and rough mixture of rock,
green patches and ice, trenched by numerous fjords. This vast
land, once the arriving point for Eric the Red, offers its
beauty to those who come to see it.
Our topographic map coves an area equivalent to the size
of Switzerland. The possibilities for any mountaineer are
endless, it is empowering and discouraging at the same time:
the hardest part being where to begin... The terrain is rough,
it seems unpouched by human, only the tracks of animals can
be found. It is exciting to discover this new and unknown
landscape, sometimes hardly accessible...
Nanuq mooring in Stephenses Havn (photo Peter Gallinelli)
The nights, mostly with clear sky, allow us to profit from
the cosiness inside of the igloo. The
mornings are something magical. The fog lies thick on the
water surface, the water is like a mirror, a thin crust of
fresh ice floats on its surface. The melting water from the
ice cap, floating on the salty sea water, freezes easily at
night. There is absolutley no sound. A bit further away from
the glacier, the water is at +10°C, similar to the water
we can find in the north of Scandinavia. It is to warm to
start cutting the wheel of Compte,bought in the Jura in June,
which is enjoying the freshness of our hull.
It is the end for some of the Crew. Their plane leaves from
Narsarssuaq. It is wind still, warm and dry. There is a feeling
of abandonment and "end of the world" at this place
that calls itself the "Hub of the South of Greenland".
Discovery at he base of the ice cap- Warm bath with 'dressing
room'' - time to DIY (check out the T-shirt!) (photos Kalle
Coincidence makes us meet Agathe, french architect living
in Greenland. Together with her husband Kalista, they have
around 300 sheep, being one of the 37 farmers that are located
in the SW of Greenland
(http://www.ipiutaq.gl). It's a country for people
who have the character to live in full autarcy and who accept
periods of complete isolation and loneliness.
(*) Qaleragdit Ima (60°59.4'N 46°40.4ÕW):
Anchorage at the foot of a temporary tourist base camp.
Beautiful view on the ice cap. Good hold in 15m sandy
bottom. Other mooring possibilities closer to the ice
cap to the E of the fjord. The foot of the glacier,
little active, is 2NM further N than indicated on the
(**) Little well protected bay (61°00.1'N 46°34.9,W):
Anchorage in 10-15m sandy bottom. Approach to the bay
from the E through a narrow passage, 4m deep in high
water. Stay in the middle, there are quite a few shoals
on both sides. Caution!
(***) Ipiutaq (60°58.3'N 45°42.7ÕW):
mooring in a little bay, at the foot of a small sheep
farm, on the N side of the Fjord leading towards Narsarssuaq.
Good hold in muddy/algae bottom. The bay is 25m in the
middle ascending to 5m towards the coast. Friendly farmers
couple with daughter always open towards visitors (http://www.ipiutaq.gl).
3 : Greenland approach (July 25th, 2015)
It is 7am UTC - LAND IN SIGHT!! The first ice touches the
reinforced sides of our hull. Big smiles on the crew's faces
show their joy to see the first ice bellow the sharp mountain
peaks. We arrive in a world where the mountains join the sea,
glaciers licking the salty water of the atlantic - a dream
for every Mountaineer-Sailor..
Landfall Greenland East coast unfortunately
still inaccessible at this time of the year (photo credits
The crossing was a pleasure for everyone onboard. With winds
between 25-40knots made it possible to sail 600nm in three
days. On arrival in Greenland, the ice conditions on the East-Coast
make it impossible to reach land. it takes us two days to
make our way around Kap Farvel, making our way through a sea
of icy bits, always bordering the ice belt. Yet again, as
on the North-Coast of Iceland, we are being swalloed by a
dense fog. With low visibility we make our way through the
cold labyrinth of turqoise ice, with the help of corse of
our radar and the compass. The water temeprature is around
1.5°C, the saturated air around 10°C. The crew is
confortably covered in warm layers!.
Landing on a piece of shelf ; in the far background our companion,
Nanuq (photo credits Peter Gallinelli)
6th day on the water: we slowly make our way pushing the
blocks of ice with our hull. We have 3 Crewmembers on deck,
always on the look-out for submerged bits that could harm
our rudders and propeller. The concentrate dice serves as
a buffer, leaving behind a calm slowly moving sea. The line
between water and air becomes mear imagination. from time
to time a group of seals create a contrast to the grey-white
background. They seem unsure of our presence, not knowing
whether to fall back to their sleep or leap into the water
and disappear. These conditions are perfect for us to venture
ourselves to discover the greenlandic floes in our dry-suits.
Sailing around Kap Farvel - following the ice edge (photo
credits Peter Gallinelli, Alain Berthoud).
The night last 4 hours at 60°N. We decide to retreat
into open water and dirft, navigating without light in the
dense fog, seems like a bad idea. The hourly shifts continue,
now destined to spot the ice around us. We slowly drift towards
the south due to the Grenlandic Current. It is calm, the sound
is absorbed by the fog and the ice..
This rythm allows us to through our first meteo buoy over
board, send to us to Reykjavik by Météo-France.
Equiped with precission equipment they are destined to meassure
different parametres that will help the understanding of our
environment, the different parameters that influence our climate.
Also, the data will be used to elaborate a more accurate wheather
forecast for navigation, especially for small scale boats
like us (see
We see several groups of Orcas. They travel silently between
the ice: no splash, no waves. We only know of their presence
because we can see them. They come to the surface at regular
intervals, moving through the water at considerable speed.
It is beautiful to watch these creatures where they belong,
we are in their home...
Unpackaging a SVP drifter buoy | RADAR navigation through
ice : floes and a bigger berg on starboard (photo credits
Alain Berthoud, Peter Gallinelli)
After another night drifting South, we do the last miles
until we finally see land again. The moment the bottom of
our shoe touches the happiness rises. We have arrived in Greenland!
A rough but breath-taking landscape of peaks, glaciers and
fjords sorrounds us. We have moored close to an abandonned
village. Small concrete cottages give us anj idea of the dimensions:
small, one house not far from the other, cosy for the winter
months. One of the houses seems to be still a summer retreat,
the open door and the interior giving the impression that
it had been left in a hurry.
The grenlandic flag flies under our starboard spreader in
the slight wind. It is Lisas birthday!
Before heading to Nanortalik to buy some supplies and post
these news, we make a stop at Tasermiut. A big fjord, sorrounded
by high peaks, at its end a big glacier. We go on land to
hike, a wonderful pick-nick in our backpacks. Some go back
onboard, others stay a bit longer. In the morning part of
the crew returns on land for a morning hike and some bouldering.
We see a pair of Imperial Eagles. A place to come back to!
3 : voyage to Greenland (July, 22th 2015)
600 nautical miles (1100km) separate Island from the E-Coast
of Greenland. The wind blows strong from the North, coming
at us with speeds up to 40 knots. The sea is rough, waves
up to 4m roll in from atern pushing and pulling. We sail under
small jib and 3rd ref, doing an average speed of 9-10 knots.
From time to time a waves breaks on our bow, shovering everything
and everyone on deck. It is a game with the waves. Nanuq is
in his element! We can hear in shout with joy each time we
surf down a wave! Seasickness is oly temporary and soon everyone
has a big smile on his face. The warm cabin is a welcomed
resting place after the two hours in the cold and wet win.d
Sky and sea - gale SE of Iceland (photo credit Peter Gallinelli)
Leaving Island we install the atmospheric and underwater
PCB-captors. The samples (collected by passive absorbers)
will be analysed later by the LCME of the Université
Savoie Mont-Blanc. (see science...
Installation of PCB measurement equipment, Iceland 64°02'N
22°58'W (photo credit Alain Berthoud)
As expected, the wind slowly gives away. The clouds give
way to the sun, the sea becomes calmer the wind disapears.
We continue under motor, moving through a smooth sea that
reflects the sky as if it was a mirror. We are in the middle
of nowhere, a minuscule point in a big ocean. Life on board
now focuses on other rhings than wind and waves. The crew
draws, reads and writes. The notion of time disipates into
the savouring of the present. The kitchen becomes the centre
of the life onboard. Music of all kinds, at different moments
make the mood. Everyone
looks for something to do while off shift.
followed by daulphins on the way and once in a while a humpback
whale shows us his back.
is at 100nm. The crew is impatient to see the first signs
3 : departure to Greenland (July, 19th 2015)
The new crew is on board and enjoys a last visit to local
the swimming pool with unlimited hot water! Packets with scientific
equipment arrived and we have embarked the weather buoys.
The scientific program can finally begin.
Imram and Nanuq side by side, Iceland
(photo Kalle Schmidt) - sailors from the whole world
meet at the visitors ontoon in Reykjavik (photo Victor Guillot)
we meet Imram, the former boat. Under the flag of his new
captain he is waiting the arrival of his crew in Island, planing
to also make a visit to the East-Coast of Greenland this summer
short visit aboard brings back memories of past adventures
We are at the western end of Iceland, prepared to cast off
for a 500 miles crossing where we will be cut off from the
world. Landing on the east coast of Greenland will be in 4
days. At the time of writing the access is still impossible
due to the belt of drifting pack ice along the coast coming
down from the Arctic.