Day 4 - August 10, 2013 - Prince Christian Sund, Greenland
By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist
Co-ordinates: N 60º10'39", W 44º11'60"
Weather: Bright sunshine
Air Temperature: 8ºC
Pressure: 1009 hPa
Wind: 25 knots
To me, the Greenland fjords are the most spectacular fjords in the world. I love sailing through them on the ship. Today, we arrived at the entrance to Prince Christian Sund, one of my favourite sounds in Greenland, at 8:30 in the morning. It was a stunning morning with bright sunshine and only a few little puffy clouds in the sky. Perfect for a morning of ship cruising!
Captain Maggie navigated the ship around a few large icebergs at the entrance, but afterwards the path was clear and we headed farther into the fjord, heading to a relatively large glacier called Sermet Glacier.
Nearly every guest gathered out on deck, gazing with amazement at the scenery passing by - tall mountains towered above us on both sides. Oddly shaped, bright white icebergs dotted the waterway. The rocks were really striking with lots of colours and patterns. There was very little vegetation to cover the rocks, and our geologist Juan Carlos Restrepo was having a great fun day, telling us all about metamorphic folds and basaltic dykes.
Captain Maggie made a hard turn to the right and we sailed right towards one of the larger glaciers in the area called Sermet Glacier. I was amazed to see how much smaller this glacier was than when I had visited here only two years ago. A really a big change! In fact, most of the glacier had receded so far back that it was no longer extending into the water.
After about 15 minutes we left the glacier and continued around a few corners until we reached our next destination – the village of Augpilagtoq. This is a quaint village – definitely my favourite in Greenland. The small colourful houses are built on a rocky headland that sticks out into the fjord and creates a protected bay where they have a small wooden jetty with all their boats.
Augpilagtoq is home to 126 of incredibly friendly Greenlanders. As the scout boat approached, one of the locals and about five children came out in a local boat to greet us and welcome us to visit. We had been unable to contact the village by phone prior to our arrival, so they we unaware of our visit. But no matter – within a few minutes they had organised for choir at the local church (a VERY small church) to sing for us, the teacher and about 16 kids opened up the school so we could visit (because it is a Saturday, the school had been shut), and the kids gathered together for a small dancing demonstration. I watched a small girl rush back into her house and reappear only a few minutes later, wearing full traditional dress, and rush back to where we were gathered at the church to show off her attire.
For me, the highlight was getting an up close look at two polar bear skins that were drying outside a couple of the homes. This village has special permission to shoot a few polar bears every year since they maintain a subsistence living – meaning that they rely on the animals and fish that they hunt for their main source of food. Every part of every animal is used in one way or another, and the meat is shared throughout the community. From a scientific perspective, it was very special to be able to feel the fur and see the difference between the long tough outer guard hairs and the soft insulating under fur.
The locals all gathered by the jetty to wave goodbye as we left this beautiful little oasis. Once back on the ship Captain Maggie continued out the other end of Prince Christian Sund. The scenery was even more spectacular as the setting sun cast a golden hue to the surrounding mountains. Amazing!
The seas have calmed again, so tonight’s transit to our next destination should be smooth and we will all get a great night’s sleep.
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