Post 281: 3 August 2018, Sea Day and Iceberg Encounter.
For those who missed the introduction to this series of blogs, here the first ‘Titanic moment’ is repeated on the actual sea day. It occurred at 18.15.
I banged on the shower door of our cabin on our ship Marco Polo and shouted “ICEBERG. ICEBERG” as loud as I could. A huge iceberg was just passing our porthole and it was the first one I had ever seen. This photograph was taken later but shows the ship and the sort of iceberg that was passing us. Nine tenths of an iceberg are hidden below the sea.
My wife Celia came dashing out of the shower naked and dripping wet. It was the nearest I would get to the ‘Titanic moment’ when Leonardo DiCaprio drew Kate Winslet completely nude, except for a necklace. Celia didn’t even have a necklace on.
Celia passed me by to jump on the bed to look out of the porthole to see her first ever iceberg. Well we have been married 44 years what else did you expect!
This was not to be our last ‘Titanic moment’ on our journey to and around Greenland.
Arrival in Greenlandic waters meant more and bigger icebergs would appear day by day……. was it by chance that our Staff Captain and Safety Officer was featured on this day in the Daily Information Sheet?
We had left Akureyri in Iceland the day before at 19.00 and were due to arrive in Tasiilaq, Greenland at 7.00. 4 August 2018, Tasiilaq (formerly Ammassalik until 1997)
It was a murky and cool Tasiilaq we arrived at as a boat was winched out to set up the gangway to the tender boats.
Tasiilaq only has a population of approximately 2,062 people, but is the largest town on the eastern coast of what is the world’s largest island! It is the seventh largest place in Greenland. It is 65.9 miles (106 km) south of the Arctic Circle. It is one of the most isolated settlements in the world, where to the west the ice sheet rises up to 8202 feet (2,500m).
There are a number of walks in the area and John (trail name Cumbria Man) and myself decided to walk to lake 3 shown on the bottom maps, which promised a flower valley. The local children were first to greet us with interest on our landing.The Saqqaq culture was the first to reach Eastern Greenland arriving from the north. Thule migrations passed through the area through what is known as Peary Land and Independence in the 15th century, finding the south-eastern coast uninhabited. Due to back migrations to the more densely populated western coast, the south-eastern coast was deserted for another two hundred years. The region wasn’t settled until the late 18th century, with the village surviving as the only permanent settlement in the 19th century. This was founded in 1894 as a Danish trading station.
Traditional hunting and fishing is very much a part of daily life, with tourism in the last 20 years increasingly important.
As we passed through the town there was still remnants of ice and snow in the river that covers much of the town in winter. We soon reached a new football pitch shrouded in sea fret. Will Greenland qualify for the next World Cup?!One of the sad and surprising things we found in Tasiilaq was an abundance of litter. One can speculate on the reasons but it is to be hoped that something can be done about it. It is clearly a poor area and pride in what must be an incredibly tough environment to live in appears to have disappeared. It may be the change from a subsistence culture of hunting and fishing to a culture mixed with a modern culture is a factor. Alcohol and drugs are now more readily available and hunting and fishing is becoming more difficult with climate change. Greenland is unable at present to provide recycling facilities and so has to burn rubbish. Modern products such as tin cans, metals and bottles can’t be burnt and they tend to pile up near the ports.
Here are a few examples of litter and neglect we found on our walk to the lake, but there were many more:
We had been warned about the mosquitos and black flies in Greenland and most of us had brought protective nets and repellent with us. Apparently on previous trips a passenger had been hospitalised due to black fly bites, which can cause ulcers and cysts on the skin. The mosquito nets were needed in Tasiilaq. Following the river valley we passed the husky dog area. These, pulling sledges, are used for getting about in winter in the snow as there are no roads out of Tasiilaq.
Known as the the flower valley there are indeed a number of flowers to be found.
Shortly the cemetery is passed with its distinctive white crosses and artificial flowers.
The valley broadens out. We decided to head up higher. Before descending to a waterfall and the lakeside area.
We headed back along the valley to the settlement.Where our ship could be seen with passing icebergs and ice-flows.
We returned to the ship as the sea fret began to clear.
Fine views were apparent as the ship prepared to depart.
We headed back out to open sea, the mist and bigger icebergs
The next day the icebergs would become huge………………………..but it would be two days before we collided with one.