Exercise Midnight Sun - Greenland 2008

Base Camp News


21st July 2008


Day three of the set up phase; still not a cloud in the sky, with the temperature in the sun reaching 20°C!  This is all very well if you want a sun tan but if you want to get any sort of business done it can be frustrating.  Everybody who is anybody is still out hunting and fishing and are not expected back until sometime on Monday.  ‘Imakak’ is a Greenlandic word meaning ‘maybe’ but is best likened to the Spanish word ‘mañana’.  There is no point in fighting it as there will be only one loser.


UnloadingWith that in mind, this morning we jumped aboard Kai’s boat ‘Nivi’ and took a trip south to the Olivine (a mineral that is used in smelting of aluminium) mining community in Seqi.  It has the appearance of a dusty Welsh slag heap with all its charm removed – think green Martian landscape and you will get the picture.  Huge Volvo dumper trucks ferry load after load of the olive drab green crushed ore to dockside, where it is conveyed into the bowls of a huge Panama registered transport ship.  56,000 tons is moved every 60 hrs, according to the ship’s captain.  The machine that is Seqi never sleeps.


Thankfully only a short part of the day was spent in pursuit of that little known fetish of industrial voyeurism.  The journey south along the western seaboard was great fun, yet again we were blessed with near mirror calm seas.  We were joined along the way by two humpbacked whales, which blew plumes of sea water as they surfaced and flashed flukes as they dived back to the artic depths. It is a real privilege to share even a short amount of time with these leviathans of the seas.  The occasional iceberg bobbed by making their way back to the north – small ones, we were told, though they looked about the size a couple of double-decker busses (and that is only the bit that we could see). IceburgWe passed many a fishing boat filled with happy families and saw many a drift-wood fire smouldering on the coast which explained where all the inhabitants of Maniitsoq were.  As we travelled south we also passed over a large number of kelp forests, arranged in Sargasso type strips, whose hawser like fronds stretched up from unimaginable depths and lay languidly on the surface. 


The way back was equally as eventful; as we approached the seaward end of Fiskefjord the tide was on the way out.  This causes a large standing wave to form across the fjord entrance, something similar in appearance to the River Severn bore except that this one stays put.  Neils, the skipper of Nivi, shouted ‘hold on’ and then took our now seemingly small craft over the crest of the wave.  We dropped down the other side running with the sea into rough water interspersed with large whirlpools whose centres disappeared to the depths.  Nivi was buffeted about for a good 5 minutes or so until we could get clear out into the open sea, by which time the wind and waves had got up and the AtlanticManiitsoq began to take a far less benign appearance. So it was back to weaving amongst the islets and back to Maniitsoq.


All in all another interesting day but we still have lot of business to iron out before we leave for Kangaamiut on Tuesday.  Hopefully everybody is back home from their various trips tomorrow.


John HW