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Tecla Sailing Expeditions 2019 - Around the Cape to West Greenland

Icebergs in East Greenland. Photo from Tecla

Tecla in Greenland 2019 - Expedition style Voyages available for individual bookings.

Tecla has been sailing to Scorseby Sound - high in the Arctic Circle in East Greenland for a couple of years. The south going cold current down this coast keeps much of the shore cut off by sea ice early season, but the West Coast is more habitable in its Southern Sections.

Tecla crew are restless souls that are always keen to find new anchorages and sailing grounds.This voyage is partly an extension of the skippers love to go see what is around the next corner, but also to set the ship up for a chance to transit the NW Passage to the Pacific in late summer 2019. This gives a fantastic opportunity to create two Greenland Sailing Voyages that are great expeditions in their own right. This first one is the longest with a lot of ocean miles, icebergs and the Mountainous SW Coast of Greenland to explore. 

(If you prefer something a bit shorter then the next voyage is 11 days heading further North into the Arctic Circle. Several of her multinational professional crew have Antarctic as well as Arctic experience and they will be as excited as the guests to explore.

By working together as a ships crew (professionals and guests of many nationalities) you soon becomes a close knit group more akin to an expedition than an Arctic Cruise.

Tecla sailing

East to West Greenland around the Cape 2019

Tecla will sail down part of the East Coast on the way to the other side of Greenland. South of Scorseby Sound, the coast here is virtually uninhabited apart from Kulasuk. The whole coast is icebound until about June-July when the sea ice breaks up, so the first half of this voyage is mostly continuous ocean sailing where the coast may be inaccessible until you round Cape Farewell (Cap Farvel) Ideal for adventurers who like the unexpected and true sailors who want to sail one of the world's famous capes.

If you are a wildlife lover with good sea legs that can handle 3 weeks mostly at sea then you are maximising your opportunities for spotting wildlife like blue whale, Humpbacks or orca  Once around the Cape to West Greenland the huge fjords are 50-70 km deep into the interior with many side fjords. The sea ice can still be a problem near the Cape but as you get nearer to Nuuk the coast becomes relatively free of ice flows in the summer and the shore landings options are all in spectacular mountain scenery with some of the biggest glaciers on the planet. This voyage should be a mecca for wilderness trekkers and landscape photographers.

Exploring Ashore in West Greenland

Making our way to Nuuk, there will be several fjords we can attempt to visit. With 22 days to get to Nuuk, this will leave plenty of time for some real exploring as well. 

Nuuk as a city is the largest and fastest growing cities of Greenland. With over 17.000 inhabitants, it is still a small city compared which gives you the opportunity to really see the live of the local people in Greenland.  

Historically Nuuk has had inhabitants long before the Vikings came there, even before the Iniuts settled nearby, Nuuk was already a place where people gathered. 

Nuuk has an international Airfield where you can fly to from Reykjavik

Land on West Greenland shores with tall ship Tecla
Land on West Greenland shores with tall ship Tecla

 

West Greenland Expedition 2019 - Nuuk to Disko Bay

Back into the Arctic Circle

A huge icecap covers the interior of Greenland. Despite global warming, the whole coast has never been circumnavigated, even by an icebreaker, due to huge amounts of ice in the Northern half of the country that never breaks up. Coastal mountains as high as 2500 metres trap the ice cap but huge glaciers push through the ranges and these are very active, calving many icebergs into the sea. The middle of the West coast of Greenland has a small coastal strip of land that becomes ice free in the summer.  This allows fjord sailing with incredible mountain backdrops, wilderness walking with low tundra vegetation and flowers or bare rock.

The West Coast is also where the majority of Greenland Inuit live but there is still plenty of wilderness. This distance from Nuuk to Ilulissat is 300 nautical miles in a straight line.....and if you measure this intricate coastline it would be probably thousands of miles that a sailing vessel could explore. It offers a more extensive summer Arctic playground than Scoresby Sound on the East Coast and is steeped in Arctic exploration history from the Vikings to more recent attempts on the North West passage.

On a sailing voyage we never use the word itinerary, as skippers will always be aiming for the best sailing and shore landings for the forecast and most idyllic or sheltered anchors and ports. Your landing stage will more likely be a beach or a rock platform rather than a man made quay

keeping a vigilant eye on growlers and old sea ice

Greenland Identity & Culture

Nuuk, starting point of this 11 day voyage, is the capital of Greenland. Flights to Nuuk from Reykjavik are daily. And although in winter time the ice wins land and spreads out also into the bay of Nuuk. In the summer time Nuuk is free of most forms of ice. The city houses a large part of the population of Greenland. Once founded by early settlers and called ‘Good Hope’, it was only after the second world war, when the Greenlandic National identity was reawakened that the city was renamed, Nuuk, translated this means Cape. The National museum has a collection of Inuit mummies dating back to the 15th century. The Cultural Centre of Nuuk displays the work of a different Greenland Artist each year, which is well worth a visit.

Setting sail North to Illulissat, there is much exploring to do along the way. Depending on wind, and weather conditions and taking in account any Ice anomalies like Storis – sea ice – making its way around the south cape. 

Growlers are not what you want in anchorage
Growlers are not what you want in anchorage

Blue Whales & Meteorites

The island of Akilia has the oldest sedimentary rocks in the world and south of Maniitsoq is evidence of a huge meteorite which hit the earth 3 million years ago. This bit of coast North of Nuuk is good for blue whale or humpbacks.

The first day might be used to sail to Maniitsoq and the fantastic landscapes around the Sermilinguaq Fjord with glaciers reaching down to the sea.

Sugerloaf Mountains and Humpback Whales

Further North are the distinctive mountain surroundings were formally known as Sukkertoppen. This name came from Dutch, German and British whalers in the 17th and 18th century, who thought the flat mountain tops looked like ‘sugar loafs’. Kangaamiut is a village at the entrance to the Evighedsfjord (Eternities Fjord). The locals still make and sell Inuit handicrafts here. The mountains here are up to 2000 metres and look out for humpback whales in this region.

Glaciers calving into the sea

Ukiivik

Another beautiful place with a whaling history is Ukiivik (Sydbay). A sheltered anchorage can be found here among one of the many low islands. Taking the dinghy ashore, it is a good surrounding to go for a hike. The hills are accessible and from the lighthouse some amazing pictures can be taken. 

If you don't have the energy for a trek uphill, then wander the shoreline towards the remains of the old whaling station. 18th Century whalers use to come here to trade with the Greenlanders during an annual meeting called the Assivik. Go and explore! 

With more possible stops like Attu or Kangaatsiaq along the way. The Tecla will slowly make her way towards Disko Bay. 

Marjam Helming Tecla in Greenland
Marjam Helming Tecla in Greenland

Erik the Red in Disko Bay

Disko Bay has been an important location for centuries. Its coastline was first encountered by Europeans when Erik the Red started a settlement in 985 AD on the more habitable western coast of Greenland. The two settlements, called the Eastern and Western settlements, were sustenance economies that survived on animal husbandry and farming. Soon after the Western settlement was established, the Norsemen travelled up the coast during the summer thaw and discovered Disko Bay.

In Disko Bay there are several beautiful places that can be visited. Anchorages around Disko Island are well sheltered and accessible. Some of the islands will not be open to the public as Arctic Terns will be nesting. 

On Basisø an old abandoned settlement can be visited with old Sod houses dug into the hillside. And all the way in the North of Disko Fjord lies Atanikerdluk, once visited by a group of explorers out to find the Franklin Expedition. McClintock, in charge of the expedition has said about the area 

I do not know a more enticing spot in Greenland for a week of fishing and yachting, than Disko Fjord" McClintock

 

Greenland mountain walking and bird watching
Greenland mountain walking and bird watching

Icebergs and Huskies

Illulissat will be the end port of the voyage. The nearby glacier Sermeq Kujalleq will riddle the water with Bergy bits, Growlers and more forms of ice. Navigating into the Fjord will be depending on ice density and weather forecasts. Which will make it all the more interesting. 

Illulissat itself is a busy fishing port with little over 4000 inhabitants. Which is a lot less then the estimate of 5000 sled dogs that also live in Illulissat. The town has, in a basic form, all you can need. A bakery, some shops, a hotel, a youth hostel and an airstrip. From Illulissat one can fly to Kangerlussuaq, to catch a connecting flight to Europe.

Icebergs are beautiful but deadly

What Wildlife Might I See

Long tailed skuas, turnstones, grey pharalope, reindeer, and whale species like Humpback whale, orca and possibly blue whale. Bowhead whales will have gone North by June but if you have time to explore North of Disco Bay you might see Narwhal or Beluga.

WINDS, WAVES & WEATHER

This is an expedition and not a cruise. Tecla crew have explored East greeland and her Captain Gijs has spent several seasons in the Antarctic so the crew are used to being resourceful and adapting to whatever conditions they find but they do need your help and co operation to make the best of the 11 days. Inviting anchorages might turn out to be dangerous and require changes of plan, sea ice in the early part of of the voyage and big icebergs around Disko Bay may change a days plan. There is no dark so it is easy to get over tired if you are not disciplined about taking rests off watch.  The weather could be hot with strong UV light so bring good shades and sun block. Mosquitoes can get you ashore so a repellant is sensible. You are mostly coastal hopping and venturing into fjords so these waters will be flat, but there is still 300 miles of coast to sail so offshore you could get any sort of weather. You are in the Arctic Circle so down jackets, good waterproofs, gloves and hats are needed too.

 

 

 

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