Surfing in Greenland..!
AURORA picked up a new group of explorers in Kulusuk on August 17th. That day was foggy and for awhile it didn´t look like the plane from Iceland could land. Eventually they found an opening in the fog and landed. This was a group of experienced Californian surfers that were here to explore opportunities for surfing in East Greenland. The coast is exposed to major swell from the north Atlantic so finding waves wouldn´t be a problem. The exciting challenge would be to find the landscape that would turn these ocean swells into surfable breaking waves.
This time we would be heading south so it would also be new territory for AURORA’s crew. Runar was gone back to Iceland to guide a kayaking trip there and was being replaced by Robert Thor. We sailed out of the Angmagsalik fjord and decided to head for an anchorage on Hornemann Island between the bays of Ikertivaq and Ikeq (Køge Bugt). This section of the coast, between the great Sermilik fjord (65° 30´N) and the Umivik peninsula (64° N) is quite often seriously encumbered with ice. The great inland icecap reaches the sea in many places there and large glaciers calve into the ocean. Combined with the fog this also created come challenges for us this time and in the middle of the night we found ourselves stuck in the middle of a large icefield. We waited for the dawn, slowly found a good route out and into the horseshoe shaped island of Hornemann. This proved to be a very good anchorage and everyone went ashore for their first hike in Greenland.
Next day we sailed further south along the coast keeping a constant lookout for potential surf-spots. Our next anchorage was in a narrow cove in the northern arm of Otto Krumpen fjord. From there we continued along Odins land and past the ice-filled Bernstorffs Icefjord. Off the little island of Qimisa we saw the swell breaking on a submerged (un-charted!) reef and the surfers got into the water immediately. They paddled over to the reef and made brave attempts to surf on what they called „The White Fang”. After having retrieved the surfers back onboard we continued a bit further and anchored in Fyllas Vig (cove). This was a lovely anchorage with the beautiful Strudsen (Ostrich) mountain in the background.
We continued south the next day and entered the south Skjøldungen sound and the beautiful anchorage of Caroline Amalies harbour. The weather was now quite nice and we motored into the Skjøldungen sound, stopping at the old abandoned Skjøldungen village. The climbers in the group now had their eyes fixed on the great granite walls of the surrounding mountains. The sound is flanked by big-walls, some over 1000m straight from the water – never ending climbing potential and an absolutely stunning landscape. Here is also more vegetation than further north and with it the numerous mosquitoes and other flies! We sailed all the way to the head of the sound and anchored off Queen Marie´s valley. Robert and Kevin took off the next morning and climbed an unnamed peak to the south of Skjøldmøen glacier and Chris hiked up the valley to look for Arctic Char. The rest of the group did shorter hikes in the vicinity.
After a good day of land-activities it was time to head out to the coast again to continue the surfing. The weather wasn´t very cooperative and we got hammered by 30-40 knots of wind in the northern Skjøldungen sound so we decided to anchor in the next available shelter. This was in a tiny cove in Langenæs Bugt where we tied four lines ashore and stayed for the night.
Next day we sailed out of the sound but there was still over 30 knots of wind outside the Valkyrien islands so we took a shortcut through the Langenæsløbet sound, discovering an uncharted rock in the middle of the sound. We then sailed across the Graahs fjord and into the very sheltered anchorage of Graah´s Harbour. Captain W.A.Graah of the Royal Danish Navy returned to winter here during his epic journey by Umiaq (an Inuit skin boat, “womensboat”) in 1829/30 from Qaqortoq to Dannebrog Ø, 120 miles further north where he was forced to turn back by ice. There are quite complete ruins of old Inuit building there that are very interesting to see.
We were now started to head north again and a bit further along the coast we found another submerged reef for the surfers to investigate. We then anchored again in Fyllas Vig. Our plan was to anchor next under the Kiatak mountain in Umivik bay. This is where Fridthjof Nansen and his group started their crossing of the inland icecap in 1888. The south going current is very strong along the coast and we saw up to 4 knots of current against us. The Umivik bay proved to be packed full of brash ice and bergy bits and we decided to head further out and straight to Tasiilaq. After an overnight sail up the coast we arrived in the town of Tasiilaq, the largest community on the east coast of Greenland, with around 1500 inhabitants.
We spent one night in Tasiilaq and had a great feast of Pizzas at the Nansen hotel. The following day we motored over to a small fjord of Tasilartik on the west side of Angmagsalik island. The group went ashore for a nice hike. The trip then ended with the short sail across the Angmagsalik fjord to the anchorage off Kulusuk village. The morning after the group flew back to Reykjavik.
AURORA received three new guests in Kulusuk and then we sailed about 60 miles further north along the coast to Smalsund sound where we picked up seven kayakers. With this group we now set course for Isafjordur and arrived there two and a half days later after having spent a great month in Greenland.