Sunday, July 19, 2009

Welcome to Nuuk

About an hour after boarding Fiona, Eric and Joey having gone to shore, I was in the aft cabin stowing my gear; Mustang suit, clothes, peanuts, jerky, books and whatever I thought I'd need and found room for in my sea bag. It takes a while to learn the boat and, suffering from "new environment tunnel vision," I kept hitting my head on the passages.

Ed (who left the boat to return home a day or so later) called down, "Hey, Russ, you'd better get up here!" Hitting my head again on the way to the deck I saw that Fiona was adrift. The big, red, steel Inuit school boat of about 80 feet which we had been rafted was getting underway. An inflatable boat with a tiny outboard was nosing around us. It took me a minute to figure out what was going on.

The red boat (pictured above tucked in behind the blue tug against the quay in the left of the photo) crew had cast us off and, after figuring the one line attached to us they had been holding wasn't doing any good, threw that on our deck. I think their intention had been to "tug boat" us, holding us in position until the "mother ship" had gotten clear. Their plan having failed, I think they just said, "Screw it. Let's do nothing."

"Jesus," I said. "You'd better start the engine."

"Eric isn't here," said Ed.

"Well ... so?"

"I don't want these guys to think that anyone but Eric can start the engine."

I don't think it made any difference to them whether the skipper was on board or not. After all, they had already cast us adrift in a crowded harbor. I would have started the engine, but I didn't yet know where anything was on the boat much less the key.

So, with hand signals and a lot of pointing, we eventually got the Inuit boat crew to grab a line and keep our stern pointed in a direction that would avoid bumping into other boats. With the tide we drifted back into a position where we could raft up with another set of boats.

Meanwhile, the Inuits cut another boat loose, this one I believe was Perithia we would see over the next few weeks on the Passage. Swinging on a single line, it took some doing to bring her back into some degree of control and get her safely tied and rafted up again.

Tonight we visited the Internet cafe, Barrista, downloaded some ice charts and returned to Fiona to watch Roger Swanson's video of his unsuccessful 2005 attempt of the Northwest Passage aboard Cloud 9.

The ice charts show a lot of ice on the Canadian coast but a clear route along the coast of Greenland to about 75 degrees north latitude and, from there, an open route to Lancaster Sound. In fact, it looks too good. We think we must be missing something ...

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