Expedition Around North America
Log Book
Nuuk - Ilulissat (Groenland)
 Around North America Homepage
The Leader's note
Around North America Expedition
Southern Star, centerpiece of the expedition Around North America
The team
Around North America Expedition
Around North America, Photo Gallery
Around North America, Photo Gallery

Leg 3
Nuuk - Ilulissat (Greenland)
(July 1st - July 11th)

July 11th, 2008
(Onboard time = UTC - 2)

Ilulissat, 69°13'N - 051°05'W, 20h00 local time,

A wall of icebergs lies at the opening of the fjord where the glacier flows. We're obliged to change our course because of the density of ice.
Soon we find an opening towards the coloured houses of Ilulissat. Slowly, we go through the ice field and we're approaching our goal. The harbour is small; some growlers are floating around.
It's five o'clock when we dock. Our arrival to Ilulissat achieves our third leg of the expedition. We have sailed 3122 nautical miles since Tromsø (5782 km).

Five nationalities were present on board during this third leg:

Bottom, from left to right
Top, from left to right :

Delphine Maratier (France)
Thierry Robert (France)
Pierre Tual (France)
Laurent Ceresoli (France)
Harald Gridl (Austria)
Alain Cabal (France)

Didier Lasserre (France)
Olivier Pitras (France)
Gunnar Nerdrum (Norway)
Helga Lilja Bjornsdottir (Iceland)
Knut Vibe (Swisserland)
Gabriel Pitras (France)


The crew during the third leg, Nuuk Ilulissat-Photo Delphine Maratier
The crew on board Southern Star during the third leg, Nuuk-Ilulissat
(Click to enlarge)
July 10th, 2008
(Onboard time = UTC - 2)

69°10'N - 051°13'W, 23h00 local time

We leave in the end of the afternoon towards an old whale station. The area is uncharted; we sail as slow as we can, watching carefully for the depth sounder. We find a place to anchor in seven meters. One team goes on shore while another team stays onboard ready to manoeuvre. The site has nothing special, nothing we can learn about hunting method or something else. We set sail again. The enthusiasm onboard is general.
As far as we can see, the whole bay is spotted with huge icebergs. Some of them are rising up to one hundred meters above water. All of them are calved by the "Sermeq Kujalleq" glacier (Jacobshavn glacier). It belongs to the Unesco patrimony and became recently a symbol of global warming in the Arctic.

Southern Star in between icebergs, Ilulissat, Greenland-Photo Delphine Maratier
Southern Star inbetween icebergs
(Click to enlarge)
July 9th, 2008
(Onboard time = UTC - 2)

Qasigiannguit (Christianhaab) 68°48'N - 051°11'W
23h00 local time

The weather prediction today are for calm conditions. The leg to qasigiannguit should be quiet. As soon as we sail outside the archipelago, we meet huge icebergs again. The mild temperature give us the opportunity to enjoy all of them. We give to the biggest a large berth In the north of "Groenne Ejland" archipelago they are many grounded. It makes the view fascinanting, an unreal landscape.
We are entering the well protected bay of qasigiannguit in the evenning. An iceberg marks its entrance.

Iceberg, Disko baie - Photo Delphine Maratier
Iceberg, Disko bay
(Click to enlarge)
July 8th, 2008
(Onboard time = UTC - 2)

68°44'N - 052°49'W, 22h30 local

After a short visit of the village, we leave the harbor to return with the humpback whales which are still there. The shooting team wear the survival suits and load the dinghy. The idea is to stop the engine at a good distance from the whales and wait for them. It's everytime a bet because their route is very difficult to guess when they are eating.
After three hours of this game the result is not so bad. We do stop a while to fish and catch six cods and two halibuts, a good catch for two meals.

Humpback whale near Aassiat, Greenland. Photo Helga Lylia
Humpback whale near Aasiaat
(Click to enlarge)
July 7th, 2008
(Onboard time = UTC - 2)

Aasiaat (68°42'N - 052°52' W), 23h00 local time

While we're sailing toward Disko Bay, the density of icebergs is increasing. The coast lies in a dense fog, we switch the radar on. Islands, rocks and icebergs make its screen difficult to read. When we approach an iceberg, a huge halo around it marks its place. Sometimes, like a ghost, one of them becomes visible. The growlers are numerous on its lee.
At couple of milles from Aasiaat, the fog disappears, we can enjoy a clear blue sky. We cast anchor in between two tiny islands with the help of the sounder because the zone is uncharted. Sledge dogs are welcoming us loudly, they are happy the have visitors. They spend the summer alone here. A speed boat comes, a man throws pieces of meat on shore, probably seal meat and disappears after wawing us in sign of welcome.
After lunch we keep going toward the village. Six humpback are eating, The krill is visible from the surface. We spend two magic hours with them. It's finally late when we cast anchor in front of the village.

 Photo Delphine Maratier
Entrance of Disko bay
(Click to enlarge)
July 6th, 2008
(Onboard time = UTC - 2)

67°41' N - 054°10' W, 23h55 local time

We spent a confortable night at the anchor in front of Sissimiut. After breakfast, we go on land and meet a joyfull group of people celebrating a confirmation. They had wear their traditionnal clothes for the occasion. Spontaneously, we are invited to join the party. We could stay long in such a good company but we have to set sails.
In the beginning of the afternoon, we sail through the reef zone northward, the wind is calm. In the evenning, a big iceberg in front of us tells us that Disko bay is not far away anymore.

 Photo Delphine Maratier
Confirmation day at Sissimiut
(Click to enlarge)
July 5th, 2008
(Onboard time = UTC - 2)

Sissimiut (66°56' N - 053°40' W), 23h20 local time

The Southerly swell persists while we're tacking Northward. In the midle of the night, a front coming from South hits us. It's a strong one. Our sails are not adapted to such a wind and "Southern Star" find herself in an unconfortable situation for a while. After the manoeuver, we can sail downwind strait to our destination.
The sun does not disappear even south of the polar circle due to a strong refraction. We officially pass the polar circle at 7h00. For the final approach to Sissimiut, the sea breaks a lot on the numerous reefs around, this is a fascinating show to watch while keeping concentrated for landing.

 Photo Delphine Maratier
Sisimut Village
(Click to enlarge)
July 4th, 2008
(Onboard time = UTC - 2)

65°57' N - 053°42' W , 23h20 local time

The afternoon starts when we're setting sails. Sailing out of this fjord with contrary wind take a lots of time. When we start to feel the first vibration of the sea, a blow attract our attention. Two humpback and one Minke whale are eating. They dive a lot and does not stay long under. Then we have the privilege to enjoy their numerous diving.
We keep sailing by insides passages for couple of milles before the off shore. While on open sea, a gentle breeze is blowing from north, we're starting again our tacking business. A big swell from south tells us that the storm in the region of cap Farvel is not a rumor.
We did not resist to show you the inside of the Eternity fjord. The picture was taken yesterday evenning.

 Photo Thierry Robert
Eternity fjord
(Click to enlarge)
July 3rd, 2008
(Onboard time = UTC - 2)

65°52' N - 052°49' W , 23h30 local time

Just before to go to bed, an unexpected southerly front arrives and blows hardly in to our anchorage. We're not protected from this direction. After one hour, it's calm down and let us quiet without moving to another bay.
In the morning, the weather is beautifull, we find a way to stay in the insides to sail north. Mountains are sharp and steep. Glaciers are visible everywhere but do not reach the fjord. After a while, we take the advantage of this good conditions to enter the Eternity Fjord. A fifty milles uncharted fjord going toward the inlandsis. The fjord is narrow and very steep, Glaciers are flowing from the top. Up there, starts the inlandsis which is covering the whole
Greenland. Ten milles before the end, a shallow zone makes us deciding a U turn. We do not take the risk to be grounded here. In our way back, we find a bay near the entrance with good holding ground.

 Photo Delphine Maratier
Shooting crew in the eternity fjord
(Click to enlarge)
July 2nd, 2008
(Onboard time = UTC - 2)

65°27' N - 052°52' W , 23h00 local time

Off shore a small swell from North / Northwest tells us there is some wind further up but the calm keeps going. Sometimes the fog comes and reduces our horizon at less than one mille around.
On deck, teams switch every three hours and watch carefully for icebergs. It's a short leg, one hundred miles. Finally the wind comes from the North, we start to tack but the current is with us. For the final approach in the vicinity of Manitsoq, the sky clears up and we leave the fog off shore. It's 20h00 when we cast anchor in a small bay surrounded by steep mountains.

Mountains near Manitsoq, Greenland - Photo Delphine Maratier
Mountains near Manitsoq, Greenland
(Click to enlarge)
July 1st, 2008
(Onboard time = UTC - 2)

64°03' N - 052°08' W , 23h30 local time

09h00, we're docking where the fuel truck can refuel us before departure. Every thing is organized since yesterday, then ! we're waiting. After a long moment, we find out that an unexpected boat from the navy came and needs 100 000 liters. No matter, we still have CD and DVD to burn and footage to numerize before to send masters to Paris. Our friends Jens and Roar are there to help us as much as they can. The refueling is done by 2 PM but it's 9 PM when finally we're ready to leave.
The weather is calm on the fjord, the sky is grey. After one hour, we see the Cessna of Jens flying toward us, what a moment full of emotion. After a while, he flies back to the airport. We're alone, en route for Manitsoq, our next stop.

Photo Delphine Maratier

The last goodbye oj JensArrival to Nuuk
(Click to enlarge)
Back to the map