Sailing East Greenland 2020: Part 3

Just in via satellite; Global Surveyor Danny Drahos. Received Saturday 1st August 2020:

Saturday was “the day of the glaciers!”Our bay looked very different this morning. The wind picked up last night and the bay was now full of small icebergs.

There was no fog today. The sun was shining and we were heading towards the heads of glaciers in the Sermiligaq fjord.

Most of Greenland is covered in ice hundreds of meters to kilometres thick. The ice makes its way towards the sea, moving between high mountains that create giant rivers of ice. On the edge the sea the icebergs break off.

We sailed towards Karale Gletscher (another glacier) and we could see a massive ice wall and a huge ice river above it from the miles away. As we were getting closer the ice cover was getting thicker. There were a couple of side streams of the main glacier and we stopped the boat just under one of them.

The team decided that they would like to go ashore and climb the narrow bit of land in-between two glaciers to get a view from above. Petr dropped half of the group on shore and took the second half on a dinghy ride towards the head of the main glacier which was around a mile away from us.

I stayed on-board and kept the boat in relatively free water while maintaining radio communication with both groups. After a few hours they decided to come back but the group in the dinghy were now nearly locked in by ice. I decided to make my way towards their position using the hull of GS to push the small icebergs out of the way. It was possible with the 50-ton yacht but definitely not with the rubber dinghy. Eventually I could see them and found a clear path alongside the coast; they were soon onboard. Peter from the other group was also on the radio asking to be picked up. He had his drone with him so give me directions to steer between the ice as he had an aerial view.

After another dinghy ride to the ice bergs birthplace, we started making way towards Knud Rasmussen glacier. It’s possibly even more impressive and we could actually experience the large chunks of ice braking off, with thunderstorm like roar! Although very exciting, we were slowly getting tired and navigation between the ice was getting more and more challenging. It was getting so thick that we could not avoid it any longer, so we had to slowly make our way through, pushing smaller bergs to the side and avoiding only the bigger ones. Every evening I have found myself surprised again by quality of the Jotun paint as after the inevitable contacts with the ice there were still almost no scratches on the hull of Global Surveyor.

We were now heading for the anchorage in Ikaasak. The fjord was south east of us. This was the first time on this trip we were going to the place I had not been to last year. Maximum concentration was needed here as it’s almost completely uncharted apart of the approximate contour of the shore.

At a slow speed, we finally entered the bay that leads to an abandoned Inuit village. Where there is a village there is always a decent source of fresh water! We were running out of our own supply so we knew tomorrow we would have to go ashore and get some.

At 10pm our 145kg CQR went down together with 450kg of chain and we were ready for our first night without ice watch as this fjord is almost ice free and the shallow bar at the entrance to the bay would not allow anything significant to enter.

Tomorrow the plan is water, hiking, visit to abandoned village, preparations of the boat for Denmark strait and, well, we are going to be busy as hell!

Many regards from Team Go West

Just in via satellite; Global Surveyor Danny Drahos. Received Sunday 2nd August:

Today was our last day in Greenland. I stayed on-board together with Petr and Andy while the others went ashore to visit the “abandoned” Inuit village.

This was the windiest day we had since our arrival and we were fighting with the new sail onboard that needed to replace our old one. The new main sail for our 70ft yacht really was a big bugger and very difficult to manage at the anchor in the fresh breeze. A few hours and a few bruises later our beautiful shiny new canvas was up and set.

While Peter was working on GS, me and Andy loaded the empty jerry cans into the dinghy and went for a ride to explore the bay and look for a source of fresh water. Soon we found a stream coming down from the icebergs and after two runs we had an additional 200 litres of fresh water in our tanks and should be good to set sail across to Iceland!

The rest of the group were coming back late in the afternoon. In the allegedly abandoned village they found an Inuit family with dozens of dogs and seven children. Unfortunately, due to the latest changes in rules they were not allowed to go near or talk to them (“no hugging the native folk” and all that!)

During our last dinner in Greenland, it felt like we had been here a lifetime. Every day was different and every day was enriching and exciting.

At 10pm we set the sail for the Ocean. We closely passed several giant icebergs and the cameras were taking more pictures – thousands must have been taken on this trip! I’m now looking back at the magnificent scenery of snow-covered mountains with giant glacier rivers in between them.

Greenland, I hope to see you soon again!

Regards, Danny and team onboard Global Surveyor heading from icy Greenland to greeny Iceland!

Just in via satellite; Global Surveyor Danny Drahos. Received Monday 3rd August 2020:

On Sunday night when we were setting off from Greenland it was again a different situation with the ice in the fjords. It’s amazing; how can so many icebergs appear overnight?!

It took a couple of hours to get out to the Ocean. Adam was at the helm and he altered our course to NE to avoid the first ice field. I then sent the first report via Iridium to the Greenlandic Joint Arctic Command.
These reports are mandatory, but they do not confirm when they have been received. If you do not send them, you guarantee receiving threatening emails. The next few days my sleep was almost non existent between looking for icebergs and trying to send reports exactly on time every 6 hours.

We had all 3 sails up and Global Surveyor was flying towards Iceland. There was much more ice here then last year. We passed the last large icebergs almost 100 miles from the Greenlandic coast.

When we were 200 miles out, I sent the final report and a polite request for confirmation. After a few hours when nothing came back, I picked up the Iridium and made a direct phone call. The guy on the other side of the line confirmed that the report had been received and I went to sleep ????.

The next day, around 20nm off the Icelandic coast we called the Icelandic coast guard on channel 16 and reported our planned arrival time in Olafsvik.

The coast guard suggested that we may have to land in Grundafjordur instead and that they would be in touch soon to confirm.

We were almost in Olafsvik and had received no confirmation, so we picked up the phone and called them. Olafsvik was confirmed as our port of entry and we were told the police would wait for us on the pier. We arrived late in the night and 2 policemen in masks were waiting. This was the first time I saw anyone in masks since our arrival. They told us that Covid is back and they are having small spikes in some villages, so the rules had slightly toughened.

They were mostly interested to know if we had any Icelanders on board as they would have to be taken for a Covid test. Foreigners are considered less likely to spread the virus and all we had to do was confirm that everyone was fit and healthy.

I was given the customs guys phone number and soon a bunch of rather complex forms landed in my email box. They seemed to have been meant for a boat the size of Queen Mary 2 and it took me a good 3 hours to get through them. As everyone in Iceland, the police and customs were very friendly and effective and by the morning we were all sorted.

The next morning, we took a trip to the local thermal pool which was fantastic!

Then, it was time to say goodbye. My crew slowly disappeared. Little did I know, they would be the only group I would take this summer to Greenland. Well, what can I say? We had an epic time and loads of fun!

Thank you for a great time and even better company Petr J, Petr K, Andy C, Adam and Ruth, Peter and Zuzana, Jendys and of course, Robert “Bob”.

My great friend Simon has now arrived and we are preparing Global Surveyor for her next adventure.

Many regards from Iceland.

Posted in Global Surveyor, Greenland, News, Offshore Sailing Adventures, Sailing Stories.

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