Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Greenland at last!

Waiting for the boat

On arrival at Kulusuk I met Martin Rickard in the airport. Martin was hiring the kayak, shotgun and other gear to me and he told me where to pick up the key to the container in the township of Tasiilaq and said my transport to Ammassalik Island shouldn't be too long. I organised a lift for my gear and myself on a four wheeler down to the wharf a half kilometre away. It was cool, breezy and dry with a frosting of snow on the mountain tops. It felt great to be back in this awesome landscape. An hour later 2 boats arrived, one smaller one that transferred me to the larger vessel standing a little offshore. Lars, the owner of Travellodge Greenland, was to take me to Tasiilaq on Ammassalik Island almost 30 kms away. Lars said it was very rough outside Kong Oscar Havn where Tasiilaq was situated, in fact so rough that his two Inuit boatmen had refused to do any more crossings. When I asked him just how rough the answer was 4.5 to 6metres..... Fortunately, by the time we had reached the roughest part the sea had settled a bit with only 3 metre waves.
On arrival in Tasiilaq I called into the Royal Arctic Line office to arrange transport the next day of the kayak and myself to the settlement of Kuummiut 50 kilometres north. No eftpos facilities, the office closed in an hour and I didn't have any cash.......I raced up to the nearest shop that had a Teller machine..the machine was broken. Kept on going to the Pilersuisoq (supermarket). Got the money and rushed into the office just before they closed. Phew!
I walked back around to the camping area and set up camp, met the last group that had kayaked in the area with Martin and sorted out the kayak ready for tomorrow. The next morning was blustery and cold, with a strong onshore wind sending metre high waves crashing onto the shore. I said farewell to the other group who were catching a boat across to Kulusuk to fly out to Iceland.
Packing everything into the kayak, I slid the now very heavy kayak out to the edge of the crashing waves and contemplated just how I was going to launch. There were a lot of unavoidable rocks at the water's edge and I knew it wasn't going to be easy. Oh well, nothing ventured..... I slid into the cockpit, fitted the spraydeck and tried to get the kayak to slide forward into the waves. It was a real struggle to get the boat free of the rocks it was sitting on without getting broached by the waves. I was thinking to myself I am going to give this one go only, otherwise I would set camp up again and wait for better weather. Anyway, eventually I forced my way free of the rocks and bounced into the waves. Bearing in mind the water temperature in these very choppy waters was only about 3 degrees C I carefully paddled the 1/2 km to a beach near the wharf where the settlement freight Johanna Kristina lay. Lo and behold, the group that had just left to go to Kulusuk by boat turned up. It was too rough outside the bay to travel safely so they had turned around. They helped me carry the kayak to the waiting freighter then left to organise a flight to Kulusuk by helicopter.
The crew slid the boat onto the freighter and strapped it down ready for the trip to Kuummiut. 4 hours later we pulled up beside the wharf at Kuummiut.

The only trouble was, I now had a very heavy kayak sitting on a wharf probably 500m from the nearest beach :-)
I looked up a friend in Kuummiut, a Danish teacher called Carl and he suggested I organise a front end loader to carry the kayak around to the beach (there are no cars or trucks in Kuummiut, just 4 wheelers and front end loaders).

Kuummiut beach with the kayak tucked into the grass


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