Friday, October 18, 2013


I have put together a video recording the trip. It mostly contains images already loaded onto this blog but with a bit of music the end result isn't too bad. I hope you enjoy it :-)


Thursday, October 17, 2013


The trip to Tasiilaq on the Johanna Kristina was interesting. I spent the time talking to the caretaker of the Tasiilaq museum, Carl Eric, so I learnt quite a bit about the history of the region as well as the current politics :-)
Amazingly, halfway to Tasiilaq, on a Greenland freighter in Greenland, I heard on a Danish radio station that Tony Abbott had become the new Australian prime minister. The ever shrinking world.
Once the kayak and I had been deposited on the wharf at Tasiilaq I had the task of getting all of my gear up to an accomodation place called "The Red House". I had to assure my wife it wasn't what it sounded :-) In fact, it was an excellent accomodation establishment run by expeditioner Robert Peroni. Robert had made multiple crossings of the Greenland Ice Cap and had in fact been onto the cap a total of 13 times so he knew his way about. But, his establishment was nearly 1 and a half kilometres away up many a hill. So, I gradually ferried my gear up to the Red House. It took 3 trips. Then I dragged the kayak up the hill from the wharf on a trolley to be stored for the night in one of the museums buildings, "the potato house".The next day I moved the kayak back around to Martin's container where it would be stored with his other boats for the winter. That was a 1 and a half kilometre slog up steep hills pulling a sea kayak. I was glad to get there :-)

One of the great things about travelling in out of the way places like Greenland is the interesting people you run into doing amazing things without fanfare. I met a French couple at the Red House that had been paddling the Greenland coast for the last FIVE years! Alain and Nathalie Antognelli are exploring, documenting and filming their way along the Greenland coast with an indeterminate timetable. They showed our small group of people staying at the accomodation 2 videos they are working on. One showing the hunting of polar bears in NW Greenland  and the second the hunting of Narwhal from a traditional Inuit skin on frame kayak. Both videos were superbly filmed and very, very interesting. These were filmed at a tiny settlement of 30 people with no other human habitation within 300 kms. True subsistence living,  the hunting of the animals was totally justifiable, ecologically sustainable and part of life in the Arctic.
Their website can be viewed at

More images from the Tasiilaq area


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Return to base.

The Johanna Kristina was scheduled to return to Kuummiut in a couple of days so I packed up the next morning and left Tasiilaq Fjord so I could catch the JK to Tasiilaq. It was an uneventful paddle and so by the early afternoon I had the tent back up at Kuummiut, settling back in to familiar surroundings.
In all of the time I was in Greenland, apart from the people on the French yacht and a couple I met in Tasiilaq, I saw no other people exploring the landscape, it was really past the end of the tourist season.

Eventually, it was time to pack all of my gear into the kayak ready for it to be moved around to the wharf. Once again, I searched out the front end loader driver and we put the kayak onto a pallet and off we went!

A wander in magic land

After exploring the beauty of Tasiilaq Fjord I returned to where I saw the huts on my way in. All the time I had in the back of my mind the story that Lars the boatman had told me as we crossed from Kulusuk Island to Ammassalik Island. He told me how two weeks before there had been a French party camped in this same fjord. One of the girls in the party heard a noise late at night. At first she thought her airbed had sprung a leak as she heard a quiet "whoosh, whoosh, whoosh". Unfortunately the whooshing noise walked past her was the breathing of a polar bear she was hearing. Unzipping the tent, she started screaming.
Lars comment was, "she did everything will be very bad for tourism when something happens."
So, after landing near the huts and carefully unpacking the shotgun first, I took a walk to check the huts out. The first two, small single room huts were very dilapidated and smelly. The third, a good 200 metres away up on a hill, was much more acceptable. I started carrying my gear up to the hut. It had a fantastic view, sitting on a spur running between two fjords, Qingertivaq Fjord and Tasiilaq Fjord.

The next day I explored the area, blown away by the majesty and beauty of the surroundings.

"This has to be the most beautiful place I have ever been to"

That's what I thought to myself as I paddled around the corner into Tasiilaq Fjord, "the most beautiful place I have ever visited".
Just stunning.
I had left Kuummiut that morning, heading north up the Ammassalik Fjord. My friend in Kuummiut had recommended this fjord to me, saying there were also some huts in the fjord. Ever since I had seen his website, , I had wanted to visit it, and I wasn't disappointed.
I had a headwind most of the way up to the fjord but as I neared the entrance the wind dropped right out and the water became glassy smooth. I passed 4 huts before the entrance and even had a whale blowing in the distance. 
There was another commercial hut inside the fjord but this one was locked, something I find unusually unfriendly in a landscape such as this where shelter can be the difference between life and death.

The Lights....

After my wander in the hills I returned to my tent and cooked up a storm. Well ok, it was a freeze dried meal but reasonable plus a nice dessert. The daily ration packs from Outdoors Grub are very acceptable indeed.
Later in the evening I decided to take a wander down to the wharf with my camera and tripod. No particular reason, just thought I would as it was a perfectly clear sky. Anyway, I ended up down at the wharf at about 9pm, not long after sunset. While I was standing there looking at that beautiful clear sky I noticed a greenish band of light stretching across the western half of the sky. Seriously hoping it was the beginning of a light show, I got my camera ready. I had brought a little Gorillapod tripod with me. It only stood 30cms or so high but at least it held the camera still for long exposures.
The light show began and I got to work capturing images. It really was very special with curtains, beams, and glows happening in all directions. At one stage I had a beautiful shimmering red and green curtain directly above me. All I could do was stare and say " that's awesome". No time for the camera with that one unfortunately.
Two hours later, the show faded and I went back to my tent a very happy traveller. I felt privileged to have seen such a wonderful show. Fabulous.




Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A hiccup

I slept well in the hut that night, waking to a grey, rather cold and windy day. It wasn't a day for paddling so I relaxed in the hut, enjoying the magic landscape surrounding me.
In the afternoon, I decided to go for a walk. Now because of the risk of bears I carried the shotgun pretty well wherever I went. The gun carried best upside down.
So I gathered together what I needed, Gun, spare slugs, binoculars, camera and lenses and a bite to eat. I hadn't gone very far when I came to a smoothly sloping dry slab of rock. I stepped onto it and whoops! I slipped and fell over. Even at 58 years I still bounce pretty well when I fall and I was soon upright again. However, this time it appeared I had done a little more damage than usual.
When I fell the sighting rib of the shotgun squashed my left index finger between the rock and the gun. It simply popped the flesh out of the finger. I was very impressed when I looked at it but thought that it might be wise to take some strong pain killers straight away before the pain kicked in.
Back at the hut I was still impressed so I took some photos before bandaging it up. In the end, it simply went numb and never really hurt. But I realised that I should go back to Kuummiut to get it looked at by a medical person.
I have posted a pic here small size, your choice if you want to see it bigger, just click on it :-)

Because of the tidal times, it wasn't going to be possible to head back to Kuummiut first thing in the morning, the tide wouldn't be high enough until mid afternoon so I thought I would go for a paddle up the Ikateq Fjord to do some exploring while I waited. It was a beautiful calm morning with the sun starting to break through. First I paddled the 2 kilometres across to the far side of the fjord and then started heading north. After a while, I saw a pod of 30 or 40 seals a few hundred metres away, many heads sticking up out of the water. A little further on, I spotted a black rounded/rectangular shape in the water about 40 or 50 metres away. I couldn't make out what it was but when I saw it moving towards me, leaving a gentle wake I decided there was a possibility that it could be a nose attached to 4 rather large legs! I exited stage right at a fair rate until I felt that the danger had passed. Continuing north I met a French yacht moored off the abandoned army base at Ikateq. Some of the passengers and the skipper had landed and I had a brief chat with them. The skipper casually mentioned that there had been 3 bears near the Blue Hut 2 weeks previously. I paddled a little further north amongst some beautiful icebergs then turned south again to return to the hut to pack up. 
I arrived in Kuummiut mid afternoon, searched out the local nurse and had the finger disinfected and bandaged up. 
I thought it would be wise to give it a day's rest so stayed in Kuummiut a further day and went for a walk in the hills.