LEG 3 : 1060 miles : crew 11 : 16 days
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Background source : Atlas of Canada - The North polar region, see

Leg 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 Schmidt)

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 ( It's a country for people who have the character to live in full autarcy and who accept periods of complete isolation and loneliness.

Moorings :

(*) 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 charts.

(**) 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 (


Leg 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 Kalle Schmidt)

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 science...).

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!

Leg 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.

We are followed by daulphins on the way and once in a while a humpback whale shows us his back.

Land is at 100nm. The crew is impatient to see the first signs of land!

Leg 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)

In Isafjöordur 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.




peter.gallinelli & all - November 2015