Kiki: bare skin diving in freezing Greenland water…

August 11th.  
What a wonderful night in this quiet and well protected anchorage in the middle of nowhere. No growlers to bump on, no navigation to do, no sails to change, no rock and roll movements nor craked bones. That is what cruising is all about after reaching far-away lands. An enhancing experience for the few and the brave. In the cockpit together, we shared breakfast and the good ambience prevailing on board. The landscape helped create this convivial atmosphere. Just a casual look around put already a smile on our faces. It was gorgeous. Adding to the special spirit of the place, the sun shone and the temperature was amazingly warm making everybody happy. We all appreciated the good time we had onboard. We discovered also that the water around Breskell was fresh water…The tide could not push itself so far inside the fjord . That gave this water coming directly from snow and glaciers that very special color shown on these pictures. A blue and green absolutely unique, like some Caribbean islands lost in this northern latitude.

Caribbean water in Greenland

I never saw this magic color before in my other Greenland anchorages. To add to the interest of this place, we watched snow hares playing on land. Remember my gun confiscated by Canadian customs?
My hunter spirit woke up… I would have loved to get one and roast it for my crew on a wood fire on the beach in the true spirit if my buccaneer ancestors. Sadly, not enough time to try my luck this morning. But remember me later to tell you one or two of my hunting stories in some remote Caribbean islands…
For now, we got the anchor on board and went down the fjord to find another place to spend the afternoon. We waited for Dom, another crew member, coming at “tonight.”
We spent the afternoon in a beautiful creek close to the beach. During my life close to the water, I have done a few crazy things and saw people doing many crazy others. But I cannot believe it when I saw one of my guest, Kiki, jumping into the icy waters and swim to the beach.

Swimming happily to the beach in freezing water

Don’t forget that this water, coming directly from glaciers is barely more than 34 degrees Fahrenheit, just above freezing (2 to 4 degree Celsius) in the fjord. Kiki was not your average brainless summer beach tourist trying to impress a crowd of cheering morons. She was a real athlete and a highly educated professional. As someone elsewhere said elegantly Kiki Bosch continues to dive deeper into her education and oceans, far and wide. She really started to impress me. That is one interesting side effect of those cruises out of the tourist trap. You meet really special characters . Let me share with you her story.

Kiki Bosh: bare skin cold water diver…

Others sailed the world, climbed mountains, her passion is cold water free-diving. Her playground encompasses the waters of the North Atlantic and the Arctic Oceans. Over the past couple of years the cold had really fascinated her and she started exploring scientifically the benefits of cold exposure. Then, she felt compelled to try it out for herself. On Breskell, in beautiful Greenland, she was in paradise. Imagine: her bed was just a few inches above the icy water with her favorite playground just below her feet. The nightmare of most but her very special dream destination: swimming almost naked in these freezing water. Why learning this skill? Because “When you’re in the cold, your mind shuts off,” she says. “You go back to experiencing the moment you’re in.”
And how she trained for that? Like all the pioneers, you are almost on your own. We, old sailors, remember the French cult movie of Luc Besson, the “Big Blue “ ( a commercial failure in the US …) In it, a fabulous diver trained his mind and body to overcome the human limit of oxygen deprivation to reach incredible depths in skin diving. Incidentally, he participated also in research into human physiology in the iced-over lakes of the Peruvian Andes. His skills and dolphin-like bodily responses to cold water were studied at large at that time.
Like the diver in the deep blue, but here in the freezing cold, Kiki educated patiently her brain to resist the terrible physiological effects of the cold on all the major physiological systems of her body. Not an easy task. You don’t buy tickets, swallow medications or smoke plants to reach this specific and altered state of mind. You “sweat “ your way in this like a mountaineer climbing a steep slope or a sailor going up wind. Her life mottos resumed well her path: ‘Disturb the comfort’ and ‘The magic is in the doing.’ Not lining up for the next cruise or taking a helicopter ride to the summit. Just do it by yourself!
Like all serious sailors, she understood also the value of a careful preparation for her dangerous game. Always have a backup plan she recommended. Safety first! In preparation for extended cold exposure, she always makes sure to have hot water bottles ready to warm herself up in case of trouble. Don’t be stupid she recommended. Prepare yourself for an amazing experience but prepare also for every single thing that could go wrong. Remember my sailor safety bank account? Serious cold divers save in the same way but in a different one..
Let’s recollect what I found later about her on the web:
“After studying psychology for three years she realised she was more set out on taking a holistic approach towards studying the mind-body connection. Since then, Kiki completed her studies in nutrition, and qualifications in Thai massage, free-diving and scuba diving. Currently Kiki is furthering her education in health sciences, science of the senses, and her training as a Wim Hof Method instructor. A method based on the pioneers in this field. In the same time, she participated on expeditions and adventures all over the globe, from swimming amongst the icebergs to exploring Malta’s sea life.

Hard to believe but I saw her playing her trades aboard « Breskell« . She swam like a happy seal in the freezing water around my boat. How long can she enjoy this special bath? A good fourteen to twenty minutes! Actually, she free dived to the beach where in the frog position of an Indian yogi, she let the sun warm her blood like a lizard . Then, back to Breskell.

Back to Breskell

Some of my crew also went overboard. But covered from head to toe with a full Burka of neoprene . No skin exposed not even the eyes behind thick glasses.

A burka of neoprene for normal cold water swimming

Personally, I stayed quietly on board with a warm cup of my favorite North West Passage coffee watching them all. While Stephan flew his drone and took some impressive shots of the landscape, the boat and of our naiad, I meditated about the rich diversity of all these human encounters. Wonderful crews.
We got back to  Kangerlussuaq to pick up Dom and returned to spend the night back on our first mooring.
Another quiet and peaceful evening playing cards after a nice diner.

 

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