Ilulissat in West Greenland put on quite a show for our arrival. Dead calm seas and blue skies, what better way to start an Arctic expedition. With much anticipation and excitement we loaded the final supplies aboard our 60 foot sailboat, made sure the water and diesel was topped up and cast off the lines. Ilulissat is the self proclaimed Iceberg capital of the world and it’s easy to see why. Billions of tons of ice floats past Ilulissat every year. We headed straight into this magnificent procession of drifting ice masses. Finn and Humpback whales were feeding close to town and it wasn’t long before we were spotting whales on all quadrants there must have been 15 or 20 of these massive cetaceans feeding on the abundant krill.
Fun as it was to sail amongst the bergs we decided we couldn’t miss this kayaking opportunity so within an hour of leaving harbor we were donning the drysuits and heading out to get a closer view of the icebergs and the whales.
We paddled through the iceberg maze for several hours, the whales also came out to play and we had several close encounters including a mother and calf humpback sleeping right next to us.
As the sun started getting low in the sky we headed back to the boat and enjoyed a delicious dinner. After dinner it was decided we’d use the good weather and start the crossing over to Baffin Island. As we left Disko Bay we cruised past huge icebergs glowing in the sunset. Greenland certainly did give us an amazing send off.
The crossing to Baffin was perfect, a small following sea with light winds and glorious sunshine. We sat out on deck watching the
glorious scene around us. Finishing a crossing and entering a distant new land is always exciting, during the afternoon of Day 4 we entered Sam Ford Fiord. A strong headwind had come up through the day which made going slow but that didn’t matter we had made it and wow what sight it was. Huge vertical walls erupting straight out of the ocean.We spent the afternoon enjoying a couple beverages and taking in the scenery.
Swiss Bay deep in Sam Ford Fiord provided the perfect place anchorage for the evening and although it took a couple tries to find a suitable entrance we weaved our way through a series of shallow bars and found the perfect place to drop the hook. Spirits were high as sun finally set behind the mountains and provided us with a Baffin Island sunset
We woke early to a perfect Arctic day, wasting little time we packed up lunch, and launched the kayaks. What a place and what a day, we kayaked further into the fiord and crossed over to the Northern side. The granite walls in Sam Ford are 2500ft tall and we were absolutely surrounded by them. This place makes you feel very small. The afternoon was spent hiking up a moraine with an incredible view of a glacier directly below us. Paddling back to the boat that evening we considered how grateful we were to be in such an amazing place in absolutely stunning conditions.
The weather took a turn for the worse during the following days . With strong winds we weren’t able to launch the kayaks instead we went on a couple hikes and paid a visit to Clyde River a remote indigenous settlement.
With a storm brewing in the Northern Atlantic we decided to return to Greenland early. It was a disappointing end to our time in Baffin, we had hoped to visit more of the island but with the storm worsening we didn’t want to get stuck in Baffin.
The crossing back wasn’t as smooth as the way over, thankfully however we had favorable winds allowing us to travel much faster.
After 2 days we pulled into the village of Qeqertarsuaq. A beautiful place with a really friendly bunch of locals. We walked through town, visited the museum and enjoyed a few Danish pastries.
During the afternoon we hiked up into the hills enjoying stunning views of the icebergs dotting the horizon. Our turnaround point was a spectacular waterfall which cascades back towards the village.
Up early the next day and heading deeper into Disko Bay, the winds had calmed right down and we took advantage of the great conditions with a long paddle down Ata Sund. Sending the boat ahead of us we paddled from one iceberg to the next. We caught up with the boat as the sun began setting and settled into a lovely anchorage close to the abandoned village of Ata.
Another early start saw us heading towards the Eqi Glacier. The boat dropped us off about 3 miles from the glacier front and we began paddling towards the impressive wall of ice.
Heralded as one of the most active glaciers in Greenland we instantly started paddling through patches of thick ice. At times it was tough going but we made it to within about 500 meters of the glacier front. Surrounded by ice we sat there and enjoyed the spectacle of thousands of tons of ice crashing into the ocean. With lunch fast approaching we headed for shore, weaving through the gaps in the ice we slowly made our way there. Getting through the ice started looking less likely so we diverted to a small rocky island which provided the perfect place to take a break.
The afternoon was spent hiking up to a small knoll. The view that this vantage point granted was absolutely stunning, 3 different glacier fronts and 3 different fiords. The setting sun only added to the scene. Our final day we made our way back to Ilulissat spotting several whales along the way each of us feeling a little nostalgic that the journey was finally coming to an end. Soon we would be back in the hustle and bustle of our normal worlds. And although we were looking forward to the comforts of never ending hot showers and full sized beds we would miss the adventure of exploring new lands and kayaking in places that few if any had before. We had not seen as much of Baffin Island as we had hoped but what we had seen inspired us and humbled us. The hot showers and pillow top comforts can wait, thankfully there are still places as wild and untamed as Baffin and Greenland.