Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Greenland's East Coast

East Greenland is a difficult coast to reach, even in the 21st Century.

The Admiralty Pilot is full of warnings and qualifications such as "there are still great stretches of coast that have never been approached in a surface vessel", though I'm sure the Inuit hunters know a lot more.

It goes on to say that the "existence of pack ice along this stretch of coast can make approaching it from seaward difficult" and recommends a "constant lookout for icebergs and floes", to which I'd reply "no kidding Sherlock" for we did indeed see lots of ice.

Indeed the route we took (above) was determined by two factors: firstly the fixed point of having to be in Tasiilaq on the 12th (though we actually got there on the 13th - Greenland forces its own timing).

Then there was the ice that initially was thick between Kangerdlugssuaq (the central point of the W above) and Tasiilaq (at the bottom) so we headed north up to Turner Island (top point), before making our way south, following the ice.

The ice was indeed so thick around Tasiilaq earlier that two boats which left the Icelandic NW fjords town of Isafjordur just before we did and headed directly there had to turn back.

To get back involved a Greenland Air helicopter flight from Tasiilaq to Kulusuk (just across the fjord) where there is an airport just large enough for a prop plane flight over to Iceland, and even these struggled with a thick bank of fog that swallowed the land, cutting visibility down to pea-souper levels.

It did clear, eventually, but the flight ended up leaving 7 hours late.

East Greenland is a hard place to get away from too, even in the 21st Century.

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