Monday 25 June 2012

21˚ C... Can This Be Greenland?

Photo © Mark McDermott
The Greenlandic Icecap glinted and sparkled in the sun as we descended towards the runway in Kangerslussuaq. It was an exciting entrance and an inspiring introduction to the beginning of our holiday in the Arctic. When we stepped out of our Coca-Cola-red charter jet onto the tarmac we were surprised by how warm it was. 21˚C. Not nearly as frigid as we had imagined it would be. After all this was the Arctic. This didn't fit with our expectations! Greenland: home to Polar Bears and Muskox and rugged Greenlandic people. Land of the midnight sun and eternal winter nights. We had just flown over a portion of the 2nd largest ice sheet in the world. But the warm air and clear blue skies seemed more in line with a tropical destination. But really, who’s complaining?

Photo © Mark McDermott
Inside the small terminal we were greeted by the Expedition Team from the Fram who escorted us to three waiting motor coaches. En route to the ship we learned that Kangerslussuaq is the warmest place in all of Greenland with the best weather. There aren’t any palm trees to match the tropical temperatures we experienced in Kangerslusuuaq but one thing it does have in common with the tropics is mosquitoes. Many people believe there are more mosquitoes in the tropics than anywhere else, but, nope. Not so. There are far more mosquitoes in the Arctic. While they hummed a strident tune about our heads they weren’t much more than a mild annoyance.

Photo © Mark McDermott
After a short 15 minute ride in a stiflingly warm motor coach we arrived at the pier. We were issued life jackets and shown how to put them on. One would think a compulsory piece of equipment like a life jacket would be easy to put on, right? Think again. Sure it only has two straps but it felt like we wrestling with an octopus. Once we had bested the life jackets we hopped into the small Polar Cirkle boats and enjoyed a short but brisk ride to the ship.

One of the nice things about taking a chartered jet is that we didn’t have to collect our luggage at the airport. Our bags were taken directly to the ship and then delivered to our cabins. Nice.
On the ship we were issued our ship’s I.D. cards and then escorted to our cabins.
Photo © Mark McDermott
At 18:00 we had a compulsory safety drill where we all gathered at our muster stations on deck 5. The whole process of the drill was quite interesting. It was evident that the crew was a well polished team.
Right after the drill we heaved anchor and began our cruise down Kangerslussuaq Fjord. It is the longest fjord in all of Greenland.
At 21:00 we met in the Observation Lounge for the Captain’s Welcome. the Captain gave a short but heart felt welcome speach and then introduced key personnel of the ship. The Expedition Leader then introduced the members of her team.
Now we are at about the mid-point of the 172km long fjord. It is a beautiful summer evening. The rocky walls of the fjord rise steeply from the sea on both sides of the ship.
It is now 22:23. The sky is bright. It stay that way all night long.
Tonight we will cross the Arctic Circle.  Sisimiut awaits.