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 2

After a restless night due to the continuous howling of the dogs I awoke to discover that some low life had stolen my Primus bottle from under the fly sheet of my tent. This meant that I was going to be unable to cook on my stove. Normally gas is not available in Greenland so we all had stoves that could be powered by petrol. Martin had arranged for a supply of petrol and this had been distributed the night before with all team members carrying one metal bottle of petrol and two coke bottle sized plastic bottles. The thieves had taken the metal bottle complete with the Primus pump.
So, be warned there are thieving scum anywhere in this world where there other humans.

Fortunately, this year the local supermarket Pilersoq had taken to stocking gas canisters and I was able to purchase sufficient for the trip.

We completed our preparations, purchased provisions from the supermarket and by lunchtime we were ready to head off. The weather was perfect, light winds and clear blue skies.

The first objective was a prominent headland just outside of Tasiilaq Harbour or by its correct name Kong Oscars Haven. This headland is known as The Vikings Nose and could cause us problems if the ice had collected here to block our progress.

We rounded the headland with no problems and settled into the routine of ice paddling.

The ice is constantly moving. It is being subjected to wind and tide and is melting quite rapidly so it is very unstable. We were briefed to basically stay clear of the ice. At times this was not possible so the risk increased significantly when passing close to icebergs. We followed various leads through the ice which took us into large ponds where the risk decreased.

Just one eighth of the ice berg is showing above water, the calve like glaciers and can roll over. When they roll ice below the water can rise and become areal hazard for a passing kayak.

When paddling in a lead the drill was to close up tight so that we were paddling as 'one kayak' this reduced the chances of us becoming separated. We were also warned that we may have to paddle with spray decks off in order to facilitate a rapid exit if the ice posed a threat to crush our kayak.

As a team we were able to settle into this routine and made good progress. There was a constant temptation to stop and take photos but this had to be controlled to minimise the risk to ourselves or the group.

The bergs get blown into shallow water by the wind or the tide and settled on the sea bed. When the tide recedes it leaves the bergs exposed and very unstable. When they topple they virtually explode rather like glass breaking.

This was an exposed piece of coastline with no land to seaward to protect us but the ice dampened any swell.

We stopped for a bar break in a sheltered cove next to a hunters hut.

Our objective was Ikateq an empty village on the east side of Sermilik Fjord.

We arrived at the village late afternoon and set up camp near the large timber frame used for drying meat.

After our evening meal we went for a walk around the village.

The church and schoolhouse were unlocked and are very much untouched since the villagers left some twenty years ago.

The view from the adjacent hill gave us a good indication on the amount of ice that lay ahead for the next two days paddling.

We collected wood for a fire and congregated on the beach for a bit of target practice with the shotgun.

The weapon is a necessity due to the presence of polar bears in the area. It was also necessary for us to mount a bear watch during the night. So we set up a rota allowing us to stand watch for one hour each night. We moved the times forward each night which meant we all covered the full eight hours during our trip. Bear watch interrupted our sleep but the light made up for the inconvenience and the time passed quickly.

No comments: