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Summer Arctic Sailing in East Greenland

The whole East Greenland coast is cut off by sea ice for much or the year, but in the Artic summer the ice breaks up and there are a vast number of glacier carved fjords that can be explored. The Inuit settlements are sparse so you need a self sufficent expedition ship to navigate the wilderness. At latitude 70 degrees North lies an extensive fjord system known as Scoresby Sound, with the tiny village of Ittoqqortoormiit at the head of 350km of spectacular cruising ground.  Mountain ranges, tundra vegetation and flowers, distant views of the Greenland Icecap and huge glaciers carve the landscape. Classic Sailing uses Iceland as a stepping stone to reach this land of midnight sun, polar bears and walrus. 

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Why we love this sailing ground

Scoresby Sound - New Adventure Destination

The only realistic way to get to this side of Greenland is via Iceland, but the route by sea faces many icebergs and sea ice flowing South on the Greenland Current..  Our Icelandic sailing partners spotted the possibilities for a fantastic summer sailing ground within the extensive 350km long Scorseby Sound back in 2011. They took the gamble of basing one of their wooden schooners here for a summer, and Hildur crew pioneered an scenic route around the mountains and fjords.  Now basing two or three of their expedition sailing vessels here every summer and flying guest crews in via a small landing strip at Constable Point they have created an incredibly action packed 8 day expedition in the high Arctic.

Schooner Opal in Scorseby Sound
Schooner Opal in Scorseby Sound

Sailing East and West Coast of Greenland on Tecla

Hot on their heels comes Dutch run tall ship Tecla.  Her skipper Gijs is an experienced Antarctic sailor and more of a purist when it comes to expeditions. In 2017 and 2018 Tecla sailed some 3 week expeditions to East Greenland's Scorseby Sound from NW Iceland and back and back with charter crew. In 2019 Tecla is sailing around Cape Farewell (Cap Farvel) offering charter expeditions exploring the West Greenland Coast. Late summer in 2019 you can join her on an epic adventure to be the first tall ship in modern times to attempt the North West Passage to the Pacific.

Learn more about West Greenland.

Tecla in Greenland
Tecla Greenland Expeditions

Real Wilderness - More Isolated than the Antarctic Peninsula

The current Admiralty Arctic Pilot Book says that the 400 mile indented, fjord coastline of East Greenland has only two principal settlements Tasiilaq and Scorseby Sund. This rather dry publication has maps showing the extent of sea ice, which has been known to cut off Scorseby Sound - even in Summer. It explains why you are unlikely to be sharing your anchorages with anything other than intrepid expedition ships like Tecla.

Without the aircraft flights to Scorseby Sound and the tough Icelandic schooners taking the trouble to base themselves here for 4 short weeks, the local Inuit would be unlikely to meet you.

"there are still great stretches of coast which have never yet been approached by a surface vessel and our knowledge of them has been obtained in boats or native craft along the partially ice free zone between the land and sea ice, by air reconaissance, or by means of sledging journeys over the ice fringing the land." Admiralty Arctic Pilot Book 2012

Opal in Pack Ice in East Greenland
Opal in Pack Ice in East Greenland

Granite Spires, Tumbling Glaciers and Great Trekking

With Mountain spires seductive enough to tempt mountaineers from around the world, Scorseby Sound has a landscape similar to Patagonia, but a lot less windy. One the ice and snow has melted the tundra flowers come out and the vegetation underfoot is low slung and easy to walk through.  White Arctic hares are easy to spot against the heathers and your guide will carry a gun just in case a polar bear comes visiting.  There are walrus on some beaches and Musk ox grazing. If you have eagle eyes you might spot Ptarmigan, but this is a harsh environment for much of the year so wildlife is not prolific.There is bog and cotton grass but otherwise the glacier scoured rocks are easy to walk on.  You might find the remains of  Inuit summer camps but very little other sign of humans.  The silence is deafening. You might hear an iceberg topple over or an ice wall collapse into the fjord, but otherwise it is tranquil.

greenland mountain trekking
mountain trekking in Scorseby Sound

The Stable Greenland climate is often clear and sunny

You can expect temperatures between 2 and 12 degree Celsius, but the area is also known for having very little rain. It can be windy but on clear days and no wind, the sun can be very strong! Due to the long lasting high pressure over Greenland, the weather is usually very still.

Hildur Crew enjoying an evening BBQ after an Arctic Swim!
Hildur Crew enjoying an evening BBQ after an Arctic Swim!
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Navionics chart tool - East Greenland, Scorseby Sound
Navionics chart tool - East Greenland, Scorseby Sound

 

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