We spent the last day of this first week of August enjoying a peaceful night, Breskell “parked” on a flat sea, away from the dangers of the rocky shore. One lonely companion, an iceberg 2.5 miles away, signed later on my radar. It was drifting in our company at the same speed and in the same direction. No risk of collision. Only one crew member was designated for this uneventful night watch. We were drifting slowly north and parallel to the coast . Those out of duty climbed to their bunks for a good night sleep.
At seven the next morning, we were four miles from the entrance of the fjord. Outside, it was gray. We saw two boats fishing probably for cod or halibut , two abundant species in this area. The first human presence since we left Newfoundland. Those are not crowded boating waters. The main reason was probably the year round harsh weather. Today was not really cold, but it was not summer temperature either. Working on deck without a good pair of gloves was almost impossible. I just sent up the mast the yellow flag. An easy and quick task normally. Working with bare hands, I was soon feeling very uncomfortable. Hard to imagine that we were in the middle of summer! The yellow flag, called the quarantine flag, is mandatory for any boat entering for the first time in a foreign country. It indicates that the boat is coming from abroad without an appropriate clearance from the port authority. One and a half hour later, we were now well engaged in the fjord. Dozens of islands and some very high mountains surrounded us.
It was foggy but what appeared from time to time above the fog curtains was gorgeous. I had never sailed before in such spectacular surroundings a mix of abrupt rocky shores, icy islands, snow-covered mountain tops and drifting icebergs. Some preview of what Alaska looks like I suppose. To remember me of my old home port in Brittany, it was raining. “Tristounet” as they say in my native language. That means? …. Too grey and too rainy quite sad…but also so beautiful!
Two more hours of careful navigation and we had to prepare some lines and some fenders to dock the boat.
But where in Nuuk harbour? I had no idea where to land and no name of any marina or port authority to call. The “sailboaters guide to Greenland marinas “ was still unpublished! Far away, I saw some motor boats and a fuel dock. I should be able to get information there on where to tie Breskell. No luck, the guy at the fuel dock didn’t speak a single english word. Sadly, my Greenland vocabulary was not better. Shortly after, a family on board a power boat came to take fuel. The owner understood our problem. He offered to show us where to go ….. The “yacht harbour” he told us was located behind this commercial wharf.
The only pleasure boats we found there were small motor vessels that people used as cars to commute from island to island. Sailboats ? Not even one around.
My yellow Breskell seemed like an oddity in this « yacht harbour ».
We docked finally against a commercial boat. No luck. This ship was leaving soon and we cannot stay alongside . We backed up and tightened to another boat “Kisaq”. We were welcomed by Helen, the owner’s wife who gave us some precious local information. “Kisaq” was a working and traveling boat. For the last 30 years, Helen and her husband worked with “Kisaq” from Greenland to ….Florida! They ferried goods and people between those two faraway places. Also, once in a while, they were chartered by the Danish government to carry goods for the locals living around here. We learned from these nice people that Nuuk at N 64_10_15_N and W 51_43_15 is the largest city and the capital of Greenland with 18 000 inhabitants. In this town lived a third of the entire population of the country. The name Nuuk came from the local word for “cape” because of its position at the end of the Nuup Kangerlua fjord on the eastern shore of the Labrador Sea. Its latitude, at 64°10′ N, makes it the world’s northernmost capital. Nuuk is located only a few kilometres farther north than the better known Iceland capital of Reykjavík.
For me, there were not much time to play the northern tourist. I spent the next two days trying to find a solution to winterize Breskell “on the hard”. Impossible in Nuuk it seemed. Ten thousands dollars for 9 months was their first quote! More expensive than the most expensive marina in Florida! With that money, I could spend more than 10 years on the Chesapeake. ..And for this price, they didn’t even provided the cradle to support my boat. I had to find another solution. I asked in town. They offered me a spot on land for $45.00 per year. Much better, even if I needed to rent a crane to lift the boat out. Much better except for the timing: not before October! My family and my students were expecting me much sooner . Another solution would be to leave Breskell in the water…. They have room in Nuuk but I would have to prepare the boat differently and very carefully. And I didn’t like to leave Breskell for so long in the water.