Welcome To My World of Pedals and Paddles

An account of my Sea Kayaking and Mountain Biking exploits

Saturday, 24 August 2013

14 Days in Greenland - 1

The idea of going for a paddle in Greenland was first suggested in April 2012. This was followed by nearly eighteen months of preparation before the trip commenced on 02 August 2013.

I made a few enquiries to find the best provider for such a trip and Martin Rickard of sea kayak adventures came highly recommended. I therefore booked my trip and I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed with my choice. Martin lives in the Shetlands but he also has a base at Tasiilaq on the East coast of Greenland.

It is from Tasiilaq that Martin starts his trips and he is resident here for most of July and August each year.

In the harbour is a distribution facility which loads the supply boat that visits the settlements in the surrounding area during late June early July to September or until the ice returns and prevents it from sailing.

Greenland is the largest island in the world with Australia being classed as a continent.
The west coast of Greenland is generally more sheltered than the east coast and it is here that most of the population live. The capital city Nuuk is also on the west coast. The east coast is remote and is exposed to the ravages of the North Atlantic and I was under no illusion that it takes no prisoners.
This is the reason I gave myself the time to acquire my equipment and physically prepare for the challenge.

Our group was made up of ten paddlers most of whom had never met before. This is quite a large group for an expedition type trip such as this. Martin had a number two ( Pete) to assist and it was going to be interesting for me to see how such a group of ten interacted over the two weeks to hopefully mould into a team.

On Friday 02 August I travelled to Heathrow for my flight to Iceland. After an overnight stop in Reykjavik I made my way to the domestic airport where I met the rest of the team.

We then flew to Kulusuk Aiport. Kulusuk is one of a group of islands situated just off the Greenland east coast.

The plan was to meet a boat at the small jetty approximately one kilometre from the airport. However, there is a lot of ice around this year and the airport jetty was closed out by ice.

The Greenland Ice Cap is melting at such a rate that the increased quantity of glacier ice in the fjords is lowering the sea temperature. The annual winter ice and sea ice is then not melting fast enough to unblock the fjords. On top of this the pack ice coming down from the north is also exacerbating to the problem.

Our boat was 3 Km away at the main jetty in the town of Kulusuk.

 We persuaded the local policeman to take our bags to the jetty in his pick up and we set out on our first Greenland trek.

Once we had located the boat we scrambled down a non existent ladder and settled our selves into the back of the boat.

Greenland has a population of 56,000 people and 80,000 dogs. The dogs are tethered for most of the time in the warmer months and fed every two/three days. Their food is traditionally seal meat and next to the boat was a hunters fridge.

The boat had to push its way through the ice but once out of the harbour we had a thrilling ride through the ice across the entrance to Angmagssalik Fjord to Tasiilaq. The weather was stunning, the Sea Goddess Nerrivick /Sedna had prepared an excellent welcome for us.

We met up with Martin and Pete on the rocks just outside Tasiilaq near to the town refuse dump and the heliport.

The campsite is an area of uneven rough ground normally used for tethering dogs. There is a beach close by suitable for launching and recovering loaded sea kayaks and it is within walking distance of the town and Martins base. Therefore, logistics outweighed comfort and it was only for one night.

We set up camp and set about preparing our kayaks and kit ready for the following days departure.

It was also time to make the aquaintance of some of the local residents namely dogs, mosquitoes and hundreds of flies.

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