|Calm before the storm.|
Repairing the gear was an unwanted five days lost of the very short Arctic sailing season. Although the Greenland coast can easily be cruised well into December the periods of reasonable sailing conditions between storms for sailing away from Greenland begins to diminish rapidly in September. It was with some urgency that I sailed from Aasiaat to begin the long journey south. In the last week of August, darkness was returning to the night sky, and Nomad was more than six hundred miles north of the southern tip of Greenland. Sailing with a good forecast is no guarantee of a smooth passage. The forecasters got it mostly right this time but the wind was considerably stronger than predicted, blowing a full gale. I learned later in Nuuk that they had only changed the forecast about twelve hours before the storm arrived there. Nomad made good, but uncomfortable, progress south under sail alone for only the second time since arriving in Greenland.
|Fishing boats in Nuuk|
|Looking out to sea from the hills above Faeringehavn|
Small boats sometimes stop for the night to camp out in the empty buildings here. The holding is marginal behind the large island, I found a lot of kelp on the bottom and was drifting towards a rocky island directly astern at about one boat length per day. I re anchored closer to shore and put a line ashore for added security.
|Tied to the shore at Faeringehavn|
|Some of the structures were decaying,|
|Wreck grounded in a cove further inland from the village|
|Old fishing boat at low tide|
|Power station at Faeringehavn|
|Nordafar fish plant slowly disintegrating|
|Marine railway at Nordafar|
|Inside the fish plant|
|Typical of the vandalism found in every building.|
|Power plant at Nordafar|
|Sunrise near Paamiut|
|A shipwreck marks the hidden entrance to Paamiut|
|Low tide at Paamiut|
|The inland passages were full of icebergs|
|Nomad in the well protected anchorage in Tugtutoq island|
|The sun sets at the end of this canyon.|
|Tugtutoq is only twelve miles south of the ice cap. Wind from the north is very cold here.|
|The nightly Aurora Borealis is spectacular!|
|The Aurora streaming off the mountain top as it begins to grow.|
Quaqortoq has a busy harbor and is the largest town in southern Greenland. Nomad was comfortably rafted up to a fishing boat on the far side of the harbor where I changed the oil and topped off the fuel tanks again. Ten miles up Quaqortoq fjord lies the ancient Norse village of Hvalsey.
|The ancient Norse ruins at Hvalsey|
This is the best preserved Norse ruins in Greenland. I spent two days anchored at Hvalsey hiking and examining the ruins in an absolute windless silence before returning to Quaqortoq.
|Looking at Kape Egede from Tunullit|
|Alluitsup Paa. The Tunillit anchorage is behind this village|
|The warm waters of the hot spring were a stark contrast to the cold and rainy air.|
|The weather changed quickly rounding the cape.|
|Small boat harbor in Nanortalik, to little for Nomad|
After studying the weather for a few days off the bottom of Greenland, the possibility of finding a gap between the storms off Kap Farvel to reach the Azores did not look good. This being the second week of October and not wanting to risk being stuck here for the winter it was time for Plan B. There was a depression passing just to the south, so I backtracked to Kap Desolation and sailed across the Labrador Sea just above 60N to avoid the west winds from the low. The wind stopped about halfway across and it was time to motor the rest of the way before the next low approached. Nomad passed the last iceberg of the trip at the edge of the continental shelf near Nain and made her way into Makkovik Labrador as the wind began blowing from the south with the approach of the next storm system.
|The Makkovik boardwalk.|
This was a rare voyage returning to my starting point so I was able to calculate some interesting numbers for this voyage. Long Pond NL to Long Pond NL, 119 days and 4043 nm. Highest latitude reached: 70N. I had expected light winds in the Arctic, but there was virtually no winds outside the fjords for long periods of time. I logged an incredible 614 hours on the main engine and 40 hours on the generator. Total fuel for the voyage including what the heater consumed: 2215 liters. Six oil changes on the main engine. Diesel fuel is subsidized, the cost everywhere in Greenland is the same. In the summer of 2017 it was 0.87USD per liter, varying only a few cents with the exchange rate fluctuations.
Careful preparation paid off and there were no serious problems during this arctic voyage. There are however a few things to change on deck and some more equipment that would make life much easier before returning to the arctic. Top of the list is a pilothouse or at least some shelter for steering and watchstanding . Reels for the 122 meter long shore lines would greatly aid deploying and retrieving them. A bus heater plumbed into the main engine would enable the Refleks heater to be shut down when motoring saving quite a bit of fuel. A long serrated stainless knife on a long pole for cutting the large masses of kelp or grass that frequently come up with the anchor. A navtex receiver and an Iridium device to receive weather reports and ice charts would be extremely useful. I was unable to receive weather fax charts on the shortwave receiver at all during this voyage. Aasiaat radio gives a weather report on the VHF but it is very rudimentary and I had a very difficult time understanding their heavily accented english. Upon arriving in Nuuk I purchased a sim card from Telepost and another hotspot since none of the devices onboard were compatible with their cellular service. This was expensive,but it worked well. The only downside of using this was the need to go by a town with a phone signal every few days to get a current weather report. There are no free wifi spots in Greenland. A forward looking sonar would be a big help navigating the many unsurveyed areas on the charts with no soundings.