Northwest Passage

August 14, Ottawa to Kangerlussuaq (Latitude 66° 57' North, Longitude 50° 58' West)

Our journey to the Arctic began with a morning departure from Ottawa by charter flight to Kangerlussuaq. As we flew north, we caught a glimpse of northern Quebec through the clouds before crossing over Hudson Strait. We stopped to refuel in lqaluit, at the head of Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island, which gave many of us our first look at the barren rock of the Canadian North. lqaluit is the capital of the new territory of Nunavut. Continuing north, we flew across across the Davis Strait towards Greenland The Kangerlussuaq airport is situated at the head of the 90-mile long Sondre Stromfjord, one of the longest in the world. .Visibility was excellent there and we were soon offered a bus tour around the tundra in the area around the airport. Then a veritable fleet of boats transferred us smoothly to our home for the next 10 days, the Lyubov Orlova.

Following a welcoming snack, a welcoming briefing and a welcoming lifeboat drill we sat down to a very welcome dinner! Afterwards we were able to enjoy the majesty of sunset in the fjord as we slid gracefully towards the ocean at the far end. Dykes (sheets of igneous rock) painted the fjord walls in heavy black streaks while glaciers crept down from the peaks on either side.
August 15, Sisimuit (Lat. 66° 56.51 N, Long. 53°40.6'W)

Smooth seas took us to Sisimiut, which must mean something like "Town High Up on the Rocks." The only way to town from our dock was up, up and up. However, we had the convenience of simply stepping down the gangway onto a rock-solid concrete pier. We all had the opportunity to wander on our own or join the hike with Simon, through the town to the end of the road and into an unpopulated, lake-filled valley. A river emptied out into the inlet and dramatic mountains reared above us. They were of a rather somber rock called amphibolite, a metamorphic rock formed under intense heat and pressure, billions of years ago. Those of us on the valley hike were treated to tundra plants, many in flower, on a substrate of patterned ground - a product of frost heaving. Many enjoyed just wandering about town, shopping and sightseeing.

While we were ashore, our ship took on water and fuel at Sisimuit's public wharf, surrounded by fishing boats, some sporting whale harpoon guns on their fore decks. As in many of these communities, the harbour was full of fishing boats; large and small. The town itself was a modern-looking industrial fishing village, somewhat dreary looking in places on account of some of its grey apartment blocks . However, they were compensated for in the form of many brightly-coloured homes that often perched incongruously on rocks.

It was soon time to leave and heading north through moderately rough seas, we prepared ourselves for our rollicking zodiac cruises at Jacobshavn Ice Fjord.

The Adventure Continues ...

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