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The Rock-itt : September 2011
Chris Bray and partner, Jessica Taunton, are on another adventure sailing their 29ft yacht, Teleport, on a voyage from Canada to Australia. Last month we followed Chris and Jess from Canada along the Northwest passage to Newfoundland and then onto Greenland. We continue to follow their exciting journey. We sailed as far as we could each day, staying well offshore to reduce the number of bergs but still having to avoid many, and at night (11pm till 3am) when it was too dark to safely see them , we'd just drift, hove-to, and both got some sleep. The first time we did this we were perhaps 20 miles offshore, only one very distant berg in sight, very calm winds, and we went to sleep for 4 hours, and waking, I blinked groggily out the window and saw to my shock a bergy-bit no less than 20 metres from us! I exploded out of bed and into the cockpit, and the scene that surrounded us literally made m e gape in horror. W e were surrounded by bergy bits and growlers, hundreds of them, in the middle of a thick belt of ice The gale behind us was catching up faster than predicted, and so we continued on through the whole of the last night, desperate to get to Nuuk. At last we could see the mosaic of typically bright, multi-coloured houses of Nuuk looming out of the fog (it was raining, and -2.5 deg C with wind- chill). Despite being the capital of Greenland, there was no harbor- master on duty. Considering as we had no neutral or reverse, and couldn't stop the engine either, I was nervous as hell about coming alongside another boat to tie up, and so did one loop around the harbour and back out, spying for the rustiest old looking fishing boat with nothing parked immediately in front of it in case we over shot the mark. I came in very, very slowly, got my stern-line around a cleat on the fishing boat as Jess simultaneously secured the bow line, and we slid gently to a stop. I cut the engine and relief flowed over us. We had made it, 12 days at sea. Everyone here was so friendly, we loved it here. For a start, when we finally found the harbour master the next day, they were unsure of what to do with a foreign yacht coming into the country, called the police who came down with a customs officer, who came onboard, grinning, and told us that they only get about 3 yachts through hear each year. He figured he'd just stamp us into Greenland in our passports, and then on the next page, stamped us out at the sam e tim e in advance, and wished us well. We finally cast off and motored out and away from Greenland, chewing on some to-die-for chocolate rum-truffle-ball things that one of the friendly yachties had kindly made for us and left in a ribbon-tied box in our cockpit overnight. The seas were calm, we had more blue skies than fog, we could see the icebergs and growlers mostly well in advance, and we safely passed about 15 miles beneath the region of sea-ice bobbing around about half-way across. The coastline of Baffin Island is absolutely breath-taking. Soaring mountains capped with pristine snow, and broad glacier tongues sparking down every valley, one after another. I have absolutely no idea why anyon e would hav e thought it a good idea to build a township wher e Pond Inlet stands. Not only is there no pond, and no inlet, there is in fact no decree able feature on the coastline at all, save a very subtle bump, which offers basically zero protection from any direction of wind or sea. We dropped anchor as close to shore as we could, flicked our dingy ov er the side and headed ashore to the semi-surf beach, keen for some fresh food for dinner. We saw a fisherman with a few char in his net. Arctic Char is basically a salmon, but even better. It's my favourite fish in the world, and something I've missed since last being in the arctic 3 years ago. W e struck a deal, and ended up with the biggest char I have ever seen - I could hardly lift it - it must have been over a metre long. Back onboard I filleted it into enough for 8 meals, and we