Thursday, September 22, 2016

Still at sea in Melville Bay
73°42’N  61°06’W
4°C /39°F
Overcast sky, light winds from the southeast
Moderate swell
Clocks ahead one hour

We awoke at sea again. “Some of us are over the seasick stage and no longer want to die,” were Stefan Kindberg’s inspiring words to start our day. He was right, as the rolling waves had subsided greatly.

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A northern fulmar in action

We enjoyed some terrific morning presentations. I went to hear Carolyn Mallory’s Survival of the Smallest. She explained how Arctic plants have adapted to the harsh climate and shorter growing seasons by being small.

After lunch, Milbry Polk spoke about her Expedition on the Trail of William Bradford up the Coast of Greenland. She ended up staying in Upernavik during that expedition, which is where we intended to land about 16:00.

The peregrine falcon is still with the ship. It is speculated that the bird will disembark when we get closer to land.

It has been my goal to take a good photo one of the seabirds in flight over the waves. They are so difficult to photograph because they keep flying around. However,  I didn’t get a clear picture of the peregrine falcon, even though it was stationary on board, but it spent most of the time behind the stored zodiacs.

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The sun appeared as we got in the staff boat to go ashore in Upernavik. We had difficulty finding a landing place, though, as the floating dock had been removed for the winter. We cruised among the fishing boats in the harbour for 20 minutes, starting to feel a bit panicked that here we were near dry land after so many days at sea, and no where to go ashore.

We finally managed to snuggle up to a rocky spot beside the wharf.  It was a “dry landing,” which meant folks didn’t have to wear their rubber boots, though several inches of snow covered the ground. After two days at sea, passengers eagerly clambered up on shore to explore the town in the sunshine.

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Upernavik, (population of 1,200) was beautiful, with its red and green houses staggered up the rugged hillside. We wandered up to the museum on the snow covered roads as children sledded down the hill passed us.Sept.22_12.jpg  A collection of old red buildings made up the museum, each containing artifacts representative of the history of the region. The view from there of the iceberg studded bay was incredible.

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I believe this is the house Milbry stayed in when during her 2012 expedition.

Up the hill behind the museum was the snow covered cemetery where Peter Freuchen’s first wife Navarana was buried.

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Navarana K’avigak’ Sorenson, the elder in Julia and Steve’s movie Vanishing Point, stands beside the graveside of her namesake, Navarana Freuchen.

She had been helping her husband and Knud Rasmussen prepare for the Fifth Thule Expedition when she contracted the Spanish Flu and died in 1921.  Higher up the hill was a larger, modern cemetery. Because of bedrock, graves are above ground and piled with stones. Each one marked was with a cross and lovingly decorated with artificial flowers. The view from this height was breathtaking.Sept.22_17.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wandered about Upernavik until the sun started setting, and we headed back to the ship about 19:30.

We wound up the day with a whiskey label contest. Passengers were to draw a label for a whiskey or write the wording for the bottle.

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Arctic highlanders: Kevin, Carolyn, Mark, Isabeau and Pierre

We AC staff dressed in outlandish plaid Scottish garb and then marched up to the Nautilus Lounge, holding our noses and making a nasal drone in an attempt to sound like a bunch of bagpipers. The guests then presented to the full lounge, their design concepts for an Arctic themed whiskey. The winner was “Seasick Scotch,” with the label affixed to one of the sick bags stuck in the railings during the rough passage.

It was a hilarious end to a terrific day in Greenland.

 

 

 

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About Season Osborne

I am a writer with a passion for Arctic history. After finding a photo of Capt. Joseph-Elzéar Bernier, who claimed the Arctic for Canada in 1909, I was inspired to write my master’s thesis on Bernier’s contribution to Arctic sovereignty. This ultimately led to extensive research into Canadian and ‘foreign’ expeditions to the North, which morphed into my recent book, In the Shadow of the Pole: An Early History of Arctic Expeditions, 1871-1912.
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