21 September 2018
It doesn’t look like we will be able to leave Scoresby Sund and travel further north as per the original plans for this trip. We hear that it is still 30 knot winds in Hurry Harbour near Constable Point where we flew into. Although we have a schedule for the day, this has changed even before we have breakfast!
We were scheduled to go to Cap Tobin but ended up at Cap Hope instead because there is too much swell for us to land safely on the beach. As it is, it is an exciting landing on the beach at Cap Hope as we surf into the beach. There are only 2 zodiacs out today and a team of people on the beach getting us out as quickly as possible before the next wave breaks.
We discover what a beach holiday Arctic style looks like: there is snow and bergy bits all over the beach. There is also ‘sun dog’ with a ring around it, making it great for photography. Cap Hope is one of several little villages that were set up with just 20 houses in 1925 to take pressure off hunting stocks in other areas. These villages stayed settled into the 1980s and 1990s but are now abandoned and sit gradually decaying.
We walk up and explore the town – a bit bemused by the number 217 on one of the houses. There is a musk ox pelt still hanging up outside one and a sled alongside. Other houses have boats and/or traps. There are still oil drums stacked up as well.
We head on further up the hill in search of views but the snow on top of the rocks makes it very difficult walking: sometimes it is firm, sometimes it wobbles and sometimes you disappear knee deep into the snow. We see unknown bird tracks where they have been seeking out vegetation, and fresh arctic fox tracks head up the hill in front of us.
It is beautiful in a desolate kind of way but the wind coming down the hill is bitterly cold so we decide to head on back to the ship. Getting back onto the zodiacs is even more of a treacherous exercise than it was coming in. They spin the zodiac around so that the engine is pointing to the beach; we line up 4 each side along with 2 crew either side to sling us into the zodiac as quickly as possible before the next wave breaks. We do have waves breaking over the top as we head out but Lauritz gets us quickly out of the danger zone and we are soon speeding back towards the ship.
There is an early lunch of burgers and fries (and lots of other selections as well) before we ready ourselves to go to Ittoqqortoormiit- the northern most settlement in North Eastern Greenland. It currently has 381 residents (including Lauritz). Our departure is delayed because the police came on board and decided that they wanted to check visas. In the end it seemed that only the Chinese group needed visas so the rest of us were free to go ashore.
It is another interesting landing onto a rocky beach. We are greeted and given maps, then directed across the road to where Isak shows us his expedition sled dogs and 4 very cute puppies. We wait for a while because he is supposed to be feeding them but it keeps being another 10 minutes and then Manda tells us that he will only be feeding them ordinary dog food rather than seal meat at this time of year. So we decide to head on out around the town ourselves.
It is a quaint little town and it seemed like everyone was on the move this afternoon. The town was abuzz with motor bikes, quad bikes (some with trailers), tractors and many more all moving around seemingly with great purpose. The police are having a busy day – they come and escort a drunken man home – grabbing him by the arms and putting him in the back of the vehicle and driving him 100m to his house. It seems like alcohol is a bit of a problem in the town.
We watch local women sitting on a bench in the sun, young boys flying their paper planes, young girls with phones looking like they would fit anywhere in the world, men fixing roofs – life in a small town. The Art Shop is a bit of a disappointment as I was wanting to make a purchase of some sort but there was nothing of particular interest. The museum was a quaint little place and we watched Flavia demonstrate the popular Greenlandic knitting “paaruli” with small beads threaded onto the wool.
We have a trip to the supermarket to see what it is like but we have been asked not to buy anything because a supply ship only comes in twice a year so we shouldn’t be buying anything that the locals might need. There is quite a wide selection of different things available as well as food. Some hardy souls walk up to the helipad and get a view of the sports stadium and soccer field where boys are playing. We decide to head back to the ship for a rest.
Michael the geologist has a seminar on glaciers this afternoon but we decide that a bit of down time was in order. This is followed by the daily briefing.
We have half our dinner in the restaurant and then all adjourn up to the Panorama lounge for dessert and the evening’s entertainment: a charity auction to benefit the Polar Bear Fund. Nat hosts the event bilingually – a remarkable feat to get Chinese and English speakers participating well.
And participate they did. Some of the bids were eye-wateringly large for items such as ‘making the wake up announcement’, a bottle of glacial water, jewellery made by local children, a polar flag, a picture of a polar bear with the northern lights on its fur, and a beautifully charted map of our voyage. People really got into it and it was a lot of fun – the crew did a wonderful job of displaying the items around the room in entertaining manner.
Tonight we also have the most amazing display of the northern lights: we just missed the multi-coloured display but got up on deck in time to see the bright green lights dancing all around the sky. Thanks again to Mike for sharing his photos.
Please join me over the next several posts as I take you on our Journey to the Arctic (and more).
Arctic Express: Northern Lights
Day 1: Copenhagen to Reykjavik
Day 2: Reykjavik to Constable Point, Greenland
Day 3: Scoresby Sund: Frederiksdal & Flyvefjord
Day 4: Scoresby Sund: Nordvestfjord & Ingmikortilaq
Day 5: Scoresby Sund: Eskimobugt & Immikkeerikajik
Day 6: Scoresby Sund: Danmark Island & Vikingsbugt
Day 7: Scoresby Sund: Cap Hope & Ittoqqortoormiit
Day 8: Scoresby Sund: Steward Island & Constable Point
Day 9: Constable Point back to Reykjavik
Day 1: Reykjavik: Blue Lagoon
Day 2: Golden Circle
Day 3: South Coast
Day 4: Jokulsarlon
Day 5: Eastern Fjords & Moorudalur Valley
Day 6: Moorudalur Valley & Lake Myvatn
Day 7: Akureyri & Trollaskagi Peninsular
Day 8: Grabrok Volcano & Snaefellsnes Peninsular
Day 9: Snaefellsness to Reykjavik
For this and other similar tours see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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