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Thursday, 11 July 2013

Appamiut

Since Tuesday we've been enjoying the grandeur of the coastal mountains as we travel northwards towards Upernavik. This town is the jumping-off point for the Northwest Passage and we expect to meet a number of other boats of all nationalities once we reach it.

On Monday we were joined by our friend Claude Gosselin from Quebec - he's been sharing the passage along these coastal mountains … and also spotting a pod of whales, some seals and the seabirds which circle around whenever even an onion peel is discarded over the side. These birds are trained to watch for scraps abandoned off fishboats. But so far we have seen very few other boats. There have been none in our anchorages. Every now and then, we see one far off skirting along the edge of this enormous water-way. But only one pastel-coloured fishboat has come anywhere near us. We altered our course so he could go into the port at the town of Maniitsoq.

We're just a tiny speck moving along in a canvas in which the deep, deep waterway is held in by mountains of great strength and formidable hardness. These mountains around us were scarred and shaped by enormous forces three billion years ago. Their surface is unmarked by the grace or softness of any tree or nesting bird. The crevassed and wrinkled faces show every change of light and shade. There are times when it feels as if we are the only three people to enjoy the subtle changes of colour which envelop these mountains … that we are the only humans in this panorama of beauty. Most of our time here has been overcast and rainy and the mountains have been shadowed and forbidding … but last night around 2300 a pink glow of light gradually crept down from the top of the mountains. We enjoyed it and tried to capture some of the effect with our cameras.

Claude and Larry have been sharing knowledge and ideas covering a wide range of topics including power loss from connecting solar panel regulators, how to start airplane engines in -47 degree weather in Northern Canada, what the relative merits of fluxgate and of Larry's newly invented compass might be and about how to interest students in engineering and in flying. In fact, there are so many topics that I feel these represent a tip of the iceberg and the discussions will continue for the entire passage.

Meanwhile I keep myself busy with preparing the best food I can, with playing music and with reading several books at once. I appreciate someone who can be a real intellectual companion to Larry. For this I thank Claude's partner Normande Dion. Recognizing that Claude had the opportunity to realize his dream of sailing the NW Passage, she happily sent him over to us and is consequently spending the next weeks on her own. Meanwhile their yacht ('SV Azzar') is in New Zealand over the southern winter.

There's a fourth person who's helping us from a distance - David Lloyd in Edmonton supplied us with ice maps as we approached Greenland and will do so again in the northern reaches of the passage… Thank you David!

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