This extended weekend has been in 2 halves, on Sunday the Queen arrived for the day, so the town was in it's splendour. When she got off of the royal yacht it was nice to see her in full Greenlandic traditional dress. After watching that I waited for my friends on Snow Dragon 2 to arrive in the port. Once they had arrived I took them shopping and then to watch some of the festivities that were put on for the royal occasion. This involved choirs and kayakers etc.
Once she had left we picked up the shopping from my house and my stuff and went back to Snow Dragon 2 and their companion ship Bagheera for a few days sailing around the local area.
This is a really exciting opportunity that I have had all from a chance encounter in a shop where I used to work in 2008. They came in for some equipment for the yacht for a trip up the Greenland East coast and as I had undertaken a previous trip there we got chatting about adventures, and I've always thought about them, and their exciting lifestyle. Once my elective was arranged to Upernavik I looked them up on Facebook and their page said that they were sailing the north west passage this year. After one post and a few emails I was realised that our timetables coincided and then I was invited to go on a short voyage with them. I was really pleased as it meant that for at least a few days I was guaranteed the company of English speakers (not knowing for sure the level of English amongst the staff here).
After the Queen had departed on the royal yacht we departed to go to visit the ice fjord. They were rather trusting as once the anchor was lifted I was told to steer the boat out from the harbour. I used to sail dinghies and have experience of the power boat in the uni dive club, but nothing like steering a large boat out from a commercial harbour and then weaving in and out of icebergs.
Once we were underway the 'bergs became bigger with some towering over the deck. It was now a little foggy so the Caribbean temperatures I have become accustomed to were now a memory, but I am in the Arctic so I can't say I wasn't expecting to be cold.
After a motor sail toward the icecap we anchored for the night and the eating started, a great meal of meat and 2 veg followed by crumble. With plenty of wine to wash it down.
The next day we had a leisurely start before going for a hike and scramble to get some photo's of the icecap and the yachts. Now the sun had come out so had the mosquitoes too.
Then it was back to the boat for breakfast consisting of pancakes with bacon and maple syrup.
After breakfast we went to look at some icebergs in their tender. I found that my new crampons will work with wellington's so I ended up getting out of the boat and walking round an iceberg, fully aware that it wasn't the brightest idea I've ever had and hoping that it wasn't going to break up as I put an ice axe in or roll over with me on it. When you are near icebergs or with big ones on the horizon you realise how active they are, with continuous bangs and pops as the stresses get too much and a crack propagates through the ice, sometimes splitting them in half, or them shattering into much smaller pieces. I have to admit in hindsight, there are better types of footwear for front pointing with.
In the afternoon we did some shooting practice as they had picked up some ammo in Upernavik and they had some new guns to test out.
After the ammo was used up we set sail again to find a spot to anchor for the night and eat another meal that most people wouldn't expect to find on such a craft. While we were sailing I took the opportunity to climb the mast for some pictures of the ice and the boats from above. This was an interesting, but chilly experience.
This morning we had an earlyish start to get back to Upernavik for my placement and for one of the guests on Bagheera to get a flight to continue his trip round the Arctic before he heads home to Argentina. Although with the amount of fog that has come in over night I'm not sure if he's going anywhere for a few days.
After these few days and talking with the skippers and crew I hope to be part of some big plans they have in the future, both next year and some things with a longer time scale.
I think the plan is to meet up for food tonight before both boats depart to make their way to the north west passage to continue their epic adventure.