It was all so straightforward. Paddle out of Pakitsoq, camp on the slabs at Anoritoq, have an evening meal in Oqaatsut and been in Ilulissat in time for lunch. It just about went to plan apart from the evening meal bit.
There was no rush in the morning as our calculations indicated that the best time to pass through the narrows was at around 10.30, on this particular morning high water at Ilulissat was at 09.38. It turned out that our calculations were pretty accurate and although we needed to do a bit of ferry gliding we escaped into the outer part of the fjord with very little effort.
Our campsite for the evening was close to the slabs at Anoritoq, which is probably my favourite place to stay along this section of coast. An easy landing, plenty of flat space for tents, a great stream and a never ending range of glacial features to explore.
The following morning the wind was blowing offshore and packing up was put on a temporary hold. A temporary hold, which stretched in 22 hours. Bit by bit the wind increased in strength until it was blowing offshore at about 50 mph. There was clearly no way we were paddling in those conditions.
The consequence was that we had to miss out on our stop in Oqaatsut, and were still quite concerned about the possibility of strong winds but when we got up at 05.00 the storm of the day before had abated, so in perfectly calm conditions we headed south for the 13 miles back to Ilulissat.
Landing just after 11.00, we unloaded our kayaks for the final time, we had been out for 19 days. At times strong winds created challenging conditions but our journey through northern Disko Bay had been truly memorable.
Your final day on a long trip is always a time of conflicting emotions. We had taken part in a really memorable paddle through some stunning scenery. There was far more ice around than I had experienced on my 5 previous trips in Greenland, which at times had presented a significant challenge and even up until the last we weren’t sure how things were going to go. The French paddlers we had seen a few days earlier had taken 2 days to get out of Ilulissat because of the ice, if we took two days to get in then we would miss our flights home.
There was quite a special feeling, this was the conclusion of a project which had started over 2 years earlier. At the Scottish Sea Kayak Symposium in 2013 we came under some pressure to run another event in Jersey in 2014. It was eventually agreed that we would go ahead with the event but the aim was to raise enough funds to be able to buy a number of sea kayaks to place in Greenland, which would be available for the participants at the event to use. Effectively we were aiming to re-invest in the sport.
2015 was the first year that the kayaks were available and they were used for 40 days, which was a successful year from the Jersey Canoe Club’s perspective. We already have bookings for 2016 as well as tentative inquiries for 2017. A successful legacy from the Jersey Sea Kayak Symposium, which will hopefully allow more paddlers to experience the memorable kayaking off the west coast of Greenland.
The final morning. We had lifted the kayaks up quite a distance the night before as there were a number of large bergs just offshore and we didn’t want to risk losing the kayaks on the final night.
Eric heading south through the ice towards Ilulissat.
Our first glimpse of Ilulissat. We were still concerned about whether we would be able to reach the town. There was a significant amount of ice, the only indicator which gave us hope were the number of small boats going past. They had clearly been able to force their way out of the harbour.
The last few hundred metres and there was a hint of open water between the ice floes.
The final slabs on which we pulled the kayaks. At this point we knew that in 36 hours time we would be on the flights home.