79D 13.2N 051D 05.6 Air 5.4C water 1.4C written from Ilulissat, Greenland
Arrived into Ilulissat 2 hours ago. Lovely sunny blue sky day, in a harbour full of ice and fishing boats, and moored along side a larger yacht that has come through the NW passage via Alaska starting from Hong Kong
As we expected, it was a long night last night as the big swell and Northernly winds continued to sweep us along from Upernavik, big surf waves behind us breaking under us, Northabout became a little Hawwai five o. We made our way along the coastline through amazing beautiful icebergs created by glaciers at Ilulissat. Visibility fell a little but we could still just see the coastline and oncoming icebergs. Had a dodgy moment when we were heading straight towards was is called a covered/ uncovered shallow/ island, which was marked on one of our charts but not the other. We were motor sailing, the genoa up for speed, and stability, no main as wind directly behind and jibe risk. But with the motor on for close quarters manoeuvring around the ice.
The icebergs were between the size of telly to the size of a house to the size of a grand hotel. They were breaking up, and once or twice right in front of us creating lots a small bergs and ice chunks that don’t float so high above the water and so are difficult to spot especially with a large 10 foot swell, they disappear and reappear in the water around us. Another danger with icebergs if you get too close to them is that they can invert, i.e. turn over in the water. We passed a couple that looked like they had already done tis and’ had their bottoms up’ to us.
But how beautiful sailing in between the icebergs shaped like different animals, one shaped like a dinosaur, one shaped like a cruise liner, on its side (eek)
When the night fell it added a hole new dimension to this sailing, although there was a touch of moonlight, the white ice was more difficult to see, and so we had someone on the bow again spotting ice chunks and upcoming bergs with a big torch. The waves were breaking all around and every white top of a wave look like and ice lump, and every area of froth left by a broken wave in the mistaken looked like a flat area of ice! You could only tell by watching to see if it dissipated. It got more challenging and three people were on watch at once time, negotiating around debris fields of ice, the bowman shouts ‘go to Port, or ‘go to Starboard’, in increasingly quick succession.
With a strong wind from behind (boat hitting over 10kts knots surfing down a wave), it was chilly and quite mentally intense on the bow ice spotting and so we took it in turns on 30 min shifts.
The sun rose as we approached Ilulissat which was surrounded by a huge amount of ice debris, but by then we could see it alright in the daylight. With the benefit of all his time helming through ice in the NE passage Ben helmed us through the last 3 miles of very dense ice to Ilulissat on slow speed. We passed by a blood splattered polar bear kill on a floe, but no polar bear to be seen. He’s around here somewhere though.
Now most people are sleeping as it was a long night. Having had a super breakfast of scrambled egg on fresh bread thanks to Ros. Then the rest of this sunny day exploring Illulissat. With a clear night forecast tonight we might see the Northen lights. Off again in the morning, and Johan has just arrived so I’ll send this.