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Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Waiting for Baffin Bay

On 19 July we arrived at Upernavik, Greenland.  This town of some 1100 people is described in one of our books as "the most northerly town in Greenland with full services", whatever that means.

Our late Friday arrival immediately revealed that "full services" did not extend to finding fuel outside office hours so we settled in for the weekend.  The available and sensible berth was at the side of a small anchored ship with our inflatable dinghy providing shore transport. 

Upernavik Children
This enforced weekend stay was, like many unexpected experiences, a blessing.  The well stocked supermarket proved to be the first place since Scotland where we had seen tinned mandarin segments [a dessert favorite] and packages of cashews; the friendly inhabitants sported hundred watt smiles; and the airport, built by chopping enough off the top of the rocky island to create level land, has to be seen to be believed.

Upernavik Harbour
We walked uphill for a long time to see this engineering marvel. Then as we crested the last hill we saw not only the airport but a stunning view to the east across ice-choked fjords toward vertical rock walls that feature in the dreams of serious mountain climbers.

After the sun had done a few lazy circles in the always-lit sky, Monday arrived and, with it, our fuel.  After we moved to one of the town's loading quays, the competent staff of Polar Oil put 600 liters of arctic-diesel aboard Traversay III quickly and efficiently. Not a drop was spilled.  We now have a total of 700 liters in our tanks and 200 additional liters in containers - a capability of over 1000 miles of motoring to deal with the uncertainties of an icy Canadian Arctic.

Anemone five meters Underwater
A quick look around our boat in the clear arctic water had revealed a great deal of weed growing on our rudder and keel.  This mass of plant life would slow us down and increase our fuel consumption at the very time when we needed both speed and economy.  Mindful of this, with fuel and provisions aboard, we left Upernavik for Aorrussaarssuk, a small inlet on the shore of Lango island a few miles from Upernavik.  In this uninhabited and scenic bay, Mary Anne and I did a couple of 45 minute dives in the 5C water to turn the forest on the bottom of our boat into more of a patchy meadow.  During one of the dives, we even found the time to look at the colourful marine life adorning the rocky shore.
Our Anchorage at Aorrussaarssuk

Work finally all done, the next few days should allow some scenic hikes on the shore as we wait for the ice to dissipate a bit more on the Canadian side and for a suitable non-traumatic forecast for the  four day crossing to our first Canadian port, perhaps Pond Inlet or else Admiralty Inlet's Arctic Bay.

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