After a final goodbye, we take some fuel before leaving Sisimiut harbor.
Another Mediterranean cruise ?
We started on a lake for a what looks like another mediterranean cruise.
The first part of our journey north is a live motor/sailing inside a boundless art gallery . Masterpieces, created by giants artists decorate from side to side this living and unrestricted museum. Down south, artists paint mostly on tiny pieces of card boards, the boldest decorate a wall, the reckless a ceiling. Up in the Arctic, great masters make use of their infinite space for achieving fabulous creation. The result is an unbelievable array of lights and tints. Midnight sun in summer, Aurora Borealis in winter provide unlimited access for space and colors with pastel as the main ingredient. Right now, Arctic artists expose their work of genius on this endless lake without a single ripple to disturb the surface. No wind, no wave, and we, lucky adventurers, sailing right into the frame to become a living part of this painting. So gorgeous, so beautiful. Just let your imagination rolls over the canvas. No word needed.
To add relief, no trick with shadow and light as they teach you in art faculty. Just bring in the icebergs into the landscape, a usual occurrence when entering Disko Island.
After being calved from Ilulissat glacier, they drift around and some of them ground here.
To my surprise, they are less numerous than during my previous visits. It’s an easy motor sailing between them and a good omen for our fabled North West Passage.
After a fairy night, we should reach Qeqertarsuaq ‘s harbor into the early morning.
The artistic part is over. We return to the day to day problems surging with the sailing reality. Find first and take the alignments guiding the prudent mariner into the entrance.
Easy. I have been there before. Half and hour later, we are moored with Alioth and Ilen. Both arrived yesterday. Qeqertarsuaq looks like just the same. I feel like that I have never really moved from here. Some stores, same shops same buildings same general feeling
In port in Qeqertarsuaq
In port, all over the world, sailors land with the same basic preoccupations. First, grocery, fuel, water and garbage. Then appear the inevitable boat problems. Among the many boat systems at the top of the list one question remains: how to maintain batteries’s charges. And this list ends with engines problems.
For the first few questions, no problem as we know the place. The battery? With my rebuilt water generator, my brand-new wind generator and my solar panels they work perfectly well. No, it’s my diesel engine. In fact, not the engine itself which purrs like a kitten, but its feeding line. Somewhere, I have a damn fuel leak. I phone to France to get the part: only for the 14 of august at best. No way. At that time, I need to be around the North West Passage. My friend Walt, my good diesel genius, suggests Walmart. He means naturally our local Arctic Walmart: the always productive junk yard! His reasoning: Perkins engines are highly popular and very reliable engines used all over the world.
« Just go Olivier and take a look ». Walt was right. I walk about 10 minutes to the junk-yard and scavenge for less than 5 minutes. I find exactly what I am looking for in an old rusting backhoe. To my big surprise, all the parts found at the dump fit exactly on my engine. Even the maze of diesel pipes going from the pump to the injector are the same. Same size, same shape, same angle, same… every thing! A perfect match. No need to order anything. And at an even better price: free.
Too lucky to be true you think. You are right! I started my repair full of hope, I finished it in an awful mood. I spend the next two full days working in the engine room and it’s still leaking around the motor. I tried everything. I changed the seals, replaced the gaskets, adjusted the pipe, modified their angle. No way. It’s not a lot. A drop from time to time. I know I would depend heavily on my engine during the transit in the most dangerous part of the North West Passage. One occasional drop was still too much for me. Hopefully we will find a mechanic. I have no idea where, may be Arctic Bay in Nunavut ? We have to go west soon.
In the meantime, my crew enjoys the break. Leila discovers the town and hikes around. Joshua explores quietly the place taking some long walks here and there. Eric stays quiet. He was sick for a time and had chosen to rest and fully recover before our next challenging crossing. He knows perfectly well the Baffin Bay and the tricks this area can play on unfit mariners. One morning, the little town was visited by a beautiful cruise ship, the « Marco Paulo ». During a few hours an animated flow of passengers went into town transforming this quiet harbor in a « Arctic Venetia ».
Unable to stop the leak for now, I devise my own personal catheter. A small gutter with a funnel at one end guide the fuel into a jug. At least, smelly diesel is not sloshing around into the bilge. The oozing originates behind the pump. A good point! It doesn’t affect the engine by sucking air into this pump, a deadly combination for an engine. We had done already more than 50 hours with this fuel discharge and the motor is just running fine. I am confident. I have also a « green alternative » : sail more and motor less. Sadly, same with the ice movements, wind is another of these things that I can’t control.
Go West young man, go West.
I had a chat on the phone with Chris Bricker this morning. Chris is the “host” of a Tuesday popular morning show on the West Coast called “Morning on the Salish”.
He offered to report “Breskell” weekly progresses. He thinks it’s important for the Port Townsend community to follow our journey. He wants also to talk about global warming. Sailing and global warming: I told him he got the right guy.
Our two sailing companions, Alioth and llen left today.
Alone in port, we decide to sail out to Nunavut on Sunday August 4th. We do not plan this time to go farther north, to Upernavik, and to meet our good friend Joseph.
Our navigation plan is straightforward: sail directly for Lancaster Sound after clearing customs in Canada at Pond Inlet or Arctic Bay. This sailing passage appears to be relatively free of ice today. For us, the sooner in challenging the ice, the better. Even if the channel is not yet open, the Canadian ice charts look much better than last year. We hope to progress as far into the passage as possible and then wait. We can take advantage of our early timing to sail through the famed North West Passage as soon as it opens.
A final conclusion about James Hansen work
Before sailing across Baffin Bay, I want to leave you with some of James Hansen works to meditate on about climate change. I am a boatbuilder not a nuclear scientist.
Still his basic concepts are quite simple to master. The conclusion is a bit frightening.
There is a building imbalance created by the accumulating CO2. This imbalance can be precisely measured around the planet.
Argos balises, earth’s climate history… Guess what ? My “planet ocean” is where the excess of energy is going to accumulate first.
Contrary to the earth temperature, James Hansen conclusions are chilling…The actual earth imbalance is equivalent of the energy of ”400 000 Hiroshima a day each, 350 day of the year”.
Theses ice-sheet satellite measurements mean that the Greenland ice-field is going to melt rapidly, that my ice cathedrals are doomed in their infancy. Worse, that the methane, released from the melting permafrost, is amplifying the warming. The whole system is ready to spiral out of control.
To regain control, James Hansen calculate the need to return to the famous “350 PPM”, The safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
We are far away. For the official “burial” of the glacier Okjökull in Iceland we were at 445 PPM in June 2019.
The more we wait, the more it will cost to control the system. No wonder this guy has the « Galileo look »: sad, depressed, discouraged. Galileo retracted avoiding being burned on the pyre still muttering “it still rounding the sun…”
Hansen believes its model right and its calculations exact. He got burned mentally confronting “the churches” of our times and climate changes’s skeptics . Nothing, except troubles to gain for him there, except tomorrow, the respect of his grandkids. A long shot.
This year, we are going to make it. It’s in James Hansen’s long term forecasts. I feel it. It’s for us the opportunity of a lifetime. No time to lose. We are ready: my yellow baby, my crew and the captain. Let’s go. See you soon.