People & Culture

Passage Through Ice: Approaching the Arctic

  • Jul 05, 2012
  • 364 words
  • 2 minutes
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After weeks of what felt like endless expedition preparations, we set sail from the northern coast of Newfoundland into the cold waters of the Labrador sea, both of us tired men. We were thankfully met with gentle winds which let us complete some unfinished work, catch up on some much needed sleep and give Rana, our on board documentary filmmaker friend, time to strengthen his stomach and find his sea legs.

While the Labrador Sea provided us with great winds, cold foggy conditions made for damp, morose scenery. Our visibility was limited to 50 to 100 metres around the boat and without sun, moon, stars or horizon our reality was becoming smaller and smaller. Occasionally the sun broke through or the fog lifted for a few hours to expose the icebergs around us drifting with the Labrador current on their journey south from the high Arctic and gave us an opportunity to explore these ancient floating formations. After nearly 900 foggy nautical miles we crossed into Davis Strait that John Davis explored in three epic voyages between 1584 and 1587 abroad his fittingly named ships Sunshine and Moonshine.

This also meant we crossed over into the favorable West Greenland current that will push us northward with the ice and the teeming marine life. Once in Greenland waters, we were met by a pod of bottlenose whales, and for almost an hour more than 15 of these magnificent six-metre whales swam under and around us.

We made landfall a day later in Faeringehavn, a once bustling but now abandoned Faroese fishing village. We were stunned our little fishing station was in fact a sprawling abandoned fishing town, equipped with warehouses, power plant, dams, hospital, homes, theatre, barracks, cafeteria, machine shops and administrative buildings. Once we had anchored and tied our lines to the derelict dock we all broke off in our different directions excited to explore the abandoned town.

We are now in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, just south of the Arctic Circle. We will spend a few days here since this will be one of our last chances to properly provision and prepare for the crux of the expedition just ahead.

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