Chasing whales and icebergs… (10)

July 11th: three days before the departure of our first guests.  Today, they want to chase whales.  Why not.  We saw a few yesterday.  Let’s try again our luck.  We start our chase by taking a look around after leaving the harbor.  Farther out, I saw a boat following an erratic sailing pattern.  I guess it’s a tourist boat also on  the hunt for whales.  I decide for now to chase the boat chasing the whales. 

Rocks?… yes but whale too

A good guess.  Soon, we count three of them, tails low when playing around, tails up when sounding for longer time. Not being killed anymore by whalers, they share peacefully their summer feeding grounds with us. Antoine went up the mast to the highest spreader, those lateral arms helping to support the spar on a sailboat. From there, he owns definitively the best view-point.  More cautious, the others went to the bow.  Following the whales for some time, we  assist to a rare event and an exceptional water show. They start to hunt together searching for food.  I thought that they were eating only plankton and small crustaceans.   Not today. They dive together and soon after we see a lot of tiny fishes getting close to the surface.   And then the spectacle started.  Those huge cetaceans broke the surface in a thunderous breach and jumped out of the water, filling up their gigantic mouth with this swimming  delicacy.   Then, they sounded with their great flukes thrashing around before disappearing again.  We follow them for the next 2 hours. Time now to return to Ilulissat.  Lot of ice around us.

Iceberg around…

An iceberg stands on the way. 

An iceberg stands on the way…

I get around and align the boat perpendicular to the pass before entering the harbor.  Doing that, I cross an area full of growlers. 

Antoine went up the mast to the highest spreader,……

One of my guest, Gaëtan, tells me about his dream to walk on the water.  Why not, it has been done before.  Du to the water temperature, he means simply walking on the back of some growlers.  Is it possible? 

Let’s see.  I choose a specific chunk of ice quite flat and very thick.  Slowly, I bring Breskell, bow first, against it, allowing Gaetan to jump  off the boat.  So happy is he on his ice-cube, that he starts playing around like a kid. 

Our teddy bear alone on his floe..

We leave our red teddy bear standing alone on his mini iceberg and slowly we made a full swing around.  To get him back on board, I had to avoid cautiously some other huge growlers. 

Playing  on his floe…

And before returning to Ilulissat, we need some more slaloming around, the shorter way not been an option with so much floating ice around the entrance . 

We fasten Breskell on the commercial dock between a huge 90 feet sailboat named “Atalante” on his way to Spain and a boat from Malta we already met in Qeqertarsuaq. 

Just out of my boat, driving a car, a man come right to me asking if I need anything. After my initial surprise, I tell him that yes, I will need a taxi driver for the airport later in the week for my guests.  No problem, and together we agree on a schedule.  “Anything else?”  Why not…  After my guest’s departure, I need also a shop working the metal to adjust a stainless steel part that I plan to reinforce my bow with… drilling and sanding mainly.  “Sure, he confirms. I have all the needed tools in my shop”

I don’t know the guy.  Can I even trust him ?  What are the risks?  Minimal.   He shows up for the airport, we take him. And if not, we allow us some time to find an alternative.  The same for the shop in town.   The next day, we leave again Ilulisat to visit a close-by glacier at the end of a fjord.   I have been there the last year. Today, I am for a big surprise. The landscape is very different.  We can easily navigate inside the fjord.  This deep access was absolutely forbidden last year, the floes keeping the glacier ice-locked for most of the summer.  A paradox because now, we encounter much more free-floating ice around.  This winter has been particularly cold and the summer quite late confirmed our local friends. But now, the glacier is melting very fast in the summer heat.  That explains all the floating ice around. Close by its foot, I stop the engine and for the next 3 hours, we listen to the noisy private life of a tidal glacier observing the ice movements around it.  The strong current generated by the water flowing out move the growlers around pretty fast.  Amazingly, we start also drifting around like another growler. Under the warm sun,  this glacier is breaking randomly . When that happens, it resonates like a gun shot.  With some luck, we even assist at the falling of some big icebergs calving from their icy mother.  They fall with an impressive splash in the water bellow.  Less spectacular but more frequent, is the parting of some growlers breaking into smaller chunks in front of us. After three hours of this free show, our guests opt for spending a last night at anchor. I know of such an anchorage about 5 miles north of Ilulissat. Two hours of motoring allows us to reach a small bay full of icebergs.  On its west side, well protected from gusty wind or wandering icebergs, lays a quiet space perfect for dropping the hook.  We spend there a wonderful night.  The next day, the 13 of July, before returning to Ilulissat, we pay a last visit to our glacier. 

Tomorrow, let’s see if our man will come as he promised.

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