To Disko bay: icebergs and whales

August 17th. We were aiming at AASIAAT the first city in Disko bay, a long run of about 80 nautical miles. 
My main concern was anchoring late in the evening in some unknown faraway place. I didn’t want to sail at night in these treacherous waters. I needed to reach port no later than nine or ten PM. Not a leisurely cruise, but I had no backup anchorage to stop. There were hundreds of islands along these deserted shores. Sadly, most of them are uncharted and you need some serious local knowledge to try to sail around them. Too risky for me.
We left at daybreak and at first were navigating in heavy fog. Then around nine it started to rain.

A light wind from nowhere…

The fog lifted and a light wind appeared from nowhere. Always a sailor, I sent the jib. I rolled it back soon without much success.
We passed an iceberg, then later another one, then another.

Iceberg everywhere

Approaching Disko bay, we saw more and more of them. Not a surprise; Disko bay is home of the largest glaciers in the northern hemisphere. Here is the birthplace of many of those huge icebergs going south along Greenland and Labrador coast.

A spectacular one

Glaciers, icebergs, growlers, fog and now rain. Our trusted wood stove was working full-time. How we loved this indispensable piece of equipment. We stayed warm and cosy inside when it was cold and humid outside. At midday, we passed a tow boat pulling a barge and going south…. A rarity worth mentioning in these lonely waters.
Now, we were literally surrounded by icebergs. Better to look out and very carefully.

Better to keep a sharp look out…

I kept somebody in the bow of Breskell to watch out for these uncharted and moving islands and myself in front of my radar screen.

My radar screen: a life saving tool!

At around three PM, we approached Disko bay. It was now raining non stop. Very humid onboard! No luck, a leak appeared also on the front window of my pilot house . I tightened the screws around the glass without any significant result. Another later addition on my list of “things to do “. Nothing that some silicone caulking cannot cure as soon as the frame dries out.
Icebergs were everywhere and all over the place. It was like sailing in a moving ice mine-field. Extra caution was required but I knew about all that . In Newfoundland, I had consulted the ice charts for Greenland . This particular area was showing a heavy cover of it. Curiously, if it was still pretty easy to sail around it in daylight, I cannot imagine Breskell in this fractured maze at night. 
Around five PM we were motoring between QARAJUGTUARAQ and IGINIARFIQ, two well identified islands separated by deep water .

Whales…

“Whales, whales” yelled our watchman. We all climbed on deck . By little groups of between two and four, they peacefully enjoyed their summer vacation grounds.

Enjoying their summer ground

Their leisure swim in these icy waters was spectacular. They came to the surface exhaling, with a resounding noise,

Blowing water spray

some water spray during a few minutes before sounding down silently and disappearing underwater. I slowed down the engine then turned around Breskell to try to close to them but without much success. We could not get close enough.

Not close enough..

Kiki, Stephan and Vari took the dinghy and Stephan, without hesitation, went snorkeling for an underwater encounter . Not much success there too. After our two failed attempts, we played one last trick. A sky offensive. Dom and Kingsley, flying their sophisticated drones, got some very nice pictures of the peaceful giants .

Dominic Joyce..

At around six thirty the whales sounded and disappeared for good. Back on track for Breskell. We were now two miles away from a very small harbour. Inside, one commercial boat and a few fishing ones were lying along a pier barely the length of Breskell.

Not much dock room

There were no wind and that made our docking much easier.
The lines tightened , the boat secured; I shot down the engine.
Another long and intense day was over…

AASIAAT, a small and very pretty harbour

We were in AASIAAT, in Disko bay, in the heart of the icebergs nursery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *