5 : on our way to Upernavik (August 25th, 2015)
After a few days without connection, we're back with some
news! We have used these days to complete some of the older
articles, enjoy the reading!
After Ilulissat, the contrast is quite accentuated when
we moor in a little bay off Sarqaq, a little peaceful village
home to the arctic garden that once belonged and was cared
for by Hanibal Fencker. Two big greenhouses are the shelter
to numerous plants. When we open one of the doors we are welcomed
by the image of a little tree just as tall as us and the aromatic
smell like we haven't smelled in a while. In the fjord enormous
blocks of ice lie peacefully close one to another. In the
evening we are surprised by fireworks. The people of Sarqaq
are celebrating! There is joy in the laughter, the music is
loud! It is Saturday, time to celebrate, also on board.
Sarqaq: Icebergs and dogs enjoy the peace. Hanbibal Fencker's
garden (photos Peter Gallinelli)
In Sarqaq, as well as most of the other villages, the fuel
tanks show the dependence of fuel in this regionsl (photo
The next morning we continue our way. In front of us we have
the Vaigat: an unprotected passage to the North of Disko Island.
It is 6o miles long and 10 miles wide (twice de size of the
Lac Lman), with no really mooring possibilities. To
the North we find the Nugussag peninsula, crossed by big semidesertic
valleys leading to high, snowed-in peaks. It presents itself
as a magnificent hiking area, ready to be exploredÉ
We could spend weeks here; definitely a place to come back
The following days are marked by the welcomed presence of
the sun. We are heading north; every degree we get closer
to the North Pole, leads to the loss of a degree in the height
of the trajectory of the sun. The scarce flora is changing
its colours from green to red and orange. Everything seems
to retreat back into its roots. The cormorants are heading
towards the South. The winter is approaching.
Mushroom season. Niaqornat (photos Peter Gallinelli)
After spending the night in the cover of a big wall S of
Nugsuata (**), we head to Niaqornat (***), the Village at
the Edge of the World. It is a meeting point between arid
mountains and the rough sea. Time passes differently here.
It is a village of contemplation. At the beach the grandfather
plays with his grandchildren, throwing stones.
The only person that speaks english manages to download
the GRIB files for us. Internet access exists in every inhabited
village in Greenland. Therefore, we use the mobile coverage
maps, to find out if a place is inhabited.
GSM coverage map. 2G and sometimes even 3G (map extract ©
After a short crossing over the Ummanaq fjord, we arrive
in the Upernavik area (****). The landscape completely changes.
The deep valleys and volcanic formations change to round polished
granite. While the mushrooms dry on the navigation table,
we cross the 70th parallel N.
(*) Sarqaq (70°00'N 51°57'W): good anchorage
inside the little bay to the S of the small village.
Protected to the S by a little island and 1m shoal.
Excellent hold in sandy bottom (5-10m). Fuel available
on the peer. Small shop. Nosy-Bé wintered here
in 1996. Well mapped on charts.
(**) Temporary mooring to the S of Nugsuata (70°40'N
54°34'W): well protected from the dominant winds
from NW and SE. Open to the sea to the S and W. Good
hold in rocky bottom covered with algae (11m), close
to a pebble beach at the foot of a stone wall. Volcanic
origin. Surrounded by beautiful valleys, with mushrooms
and berries. Some Inuit tombs.
(***) Niaqornat (70°47'N 54°34'W): Small village
installed on an isthmus. Beautiful surroundings with
great hiking possibilities. The mooring is situated
on the W of the isthmus. Good hold in calm weather in
15m sandy bottom around 15m from the beach. Open to
the NW and only protected by big icebergs grounded on
the shallow bottom.
(****) Mooring to the S of a glacier 'moraine' at the
W entrance of Amitsup Suvdlua (71°49'N 55°24'W):
Good hold in 10m sandy/algae bottom. On the shore there
is an old hunting cabin. The 'moraine' is not shown
on charts but can be seen on satellite images. Arid
surroundings, amazing hiking terrain! Close to the beach
there are some rests of turf houses and a tipi camp.
5 : Sisimiut and the route of Sila (August 19th,
For the last days we have been slowly proceeding north. The
extensive archipelago along the coast offers the most numerous
oportunities to explore the different landscapes. During the
day we enjoy the calm and protected waters between the islands.
In the evening, after securely mooring in a small bay at the
foot of some mountain or the mouth of an extensive valley,
we go for a hike in the surroundings.
Today, after searching a mooring, we make a stop in a little
village with about 20 small houses. Only 5 minutes after arrival,
we are approached by Stephen. He is the teacher. He invites
us to come to the school for a morning coffee. He asks if
we could talk about ourselves and what it is that we are doing.
20 pairs of young eyes stare with excitement, carefully listening
to what we are saying. There is joy: the children gloat with
enthusiasm and present big smiles. We are touched by the openness
and kindness of our hosts. The young Greenlandic woman who
will take over the teaching in the village thanks us for the
visit. We are grateful for the kind and humble invitation
to spend a day among these kind people. We'll come back!
Nanuq under an iceberg in Disko Bay, close to Ilulissat (photo
Travelling with a boat somehow opens doors towards people,
allowing us to exchange ideas, share thoughts and, mutually
learning from one another. Martin, for example, is researcher
in building physics for the Danish Technical University and
our contact in Sisimiut. His domains are ventilation and thermal
insulation in arctic regions, topics that are not strange
He shows us the two prototypes of passive buildings that
exist in Sisimiut, welcomes us to his lab and offers us the
services of his workshop. This allows us to fabricate the
mast for our windmill. In return we organise a conference
and tour on board for the students of the summer camp. We
will stay in contact, the first results of our expedition
are awaited with great interest.
Peter explains the 'passive igloo' to
students of the Danish technical university / proud and spontaneous
demonstration of traditional Greenlandic costumes (Photos
Lisa Gallinelli, Kalle Schmidt)
After spending a night in Quequertarsuaq, Disko Bay, we head
to Ilulissat. Surrounded by blocks of ice, it's a busy city,
marked by tourism; Greenland's Chamonix. We find nearly everything
that is still missing, at high prizes obviously. Most importantly
though, coincidence has it that we lie side by side with Vagabond
(link). Eric and France share with us precious information
and advice about the region we are heading towards. More importantly
they share with us moments of first friendship.
Vagabond and Nanuq (Nanuq and Vagabond on the right) together
in the harbour of Ilulissat - autumn 2015 (photos Peter Gallinelli
/ Kalle Schmidt)
Meanwhile their two daughters, Leonie and Aurore, spend the
day together with our young crew. Later, a customs-agent comes
on board. He had seen us loading dog food onto our deck and
wanted to make sure we didn't have any dogs on board coming
from the south. They would have to be castrated in order to
preserve the Greenlandic sledge dog gene pool.
The day passes too fast between buying what we need and
visiting the town and the three expedition boats: Vagabond,
Atka(*) and Nanuq(**) - all full of innovative and unusual
conceptual ideas. They are floating innovation labs. At 22
UTC, after a long day, we cast off 5 miles to the North of
Ilulissat into a little bay. More and more the maps become
schematic, giving us less and less detail and more discovery.
More to come!
(**) Intégral 60
() Sydbay (67°13'N 53°53'W): In contrary to
the instructions found in Imray, the anchorage to the
N is not strong enough for strong winds (20knots) from
the S (to deep and to many algae). Excellent hold can
be found to the W of Ukivik in 12m sandy bottom. Protected
by several awash rocks to the SW of the island. Visiting
the island is recommended: the view from the light house
and the the well conserved turf house are extraordinary.
(*) Ikerasarsuq (68°08'N 53°27'W): The rocky
and deep bottom is not suited for mooring. There is
however a little peer suited for a short stop. The small
village lies out of the way of the main touristic route.
(**) Hunde Ejland (68°52' 53°07'W): Small unvisited
village situated on an archipielago at the entrance
to Disko Bay. Approach to the little harbour through
the N/S channel to the E of the archipielago. Aim towards
the little peer to the W, avoiding the visible rocks.
There are some 6m shoals. Fresh water is produced by
Bredebugt (69°16'N 50°58'W): Small bay on the
S side of the main bay, 5M to the N of Ilullisat. Good
hold in 6-8m sandy bottom. Depth close to shore is around
5m. Size limit, the use of land lines may be recommended.