Greenland east coast 2006
In the summer of 1925 the Danish government relocated 90 Inuit from their original settlement of Angmagssalik, the only settlement on the East coast, to a settlement they created at Scoresby Sound. This expedition will attempt to reconnect the two communities by kayak, the original form of transport of the Inuit, by sea kayaking from Scoresby Sound to Angmagssalik, a distance of over 600 miles.
"This is undoubtedly one of the most inhospitable coastlines in the world and we will be exposed to considerable risk from strong and unpredictable winds and weather conditions. Pack ice will hinder our progress, at times forcing us to drag the kayaks over thickly congested areas of ice to find open water. Large Icebergs, which have an affect on coastal currents, present considerable dangers when forced to paddle close or under them as they have a nasty habit of toppling over. Polar Bears inhabit this area and add an extra dimension to the precautions that we must take." Martin Rickard - Expedition Leader.
Having successfully kayaked on the east coast of Greenland in 2000, 2002 and 2004, Pete and Martin are now preparing for their biggest undertaking yet. This year the team will also include Philip Clegg – bringing their numbers to three for a light weight “Alpine” style expedition.
The preparations for the expedition started in the summer of 05. The equipment including; the sea kayaks, 60 days food, spare clothes, dry-suits, paddles, paddling equipment, stoves, survival equipment etc, were packed into a crate and shipped via Denmark to Scoresbysund on the east coast of Greenland. There it will be stored during the winter and be ready for the team's arrival in early summer 2006.
In June 2006 Martin, Pete and Phil will fly out to Scoresbysund via Iceland, arriving as the coastal ice begins to break up. Shipping the gear out the year before means they can begin the expedition early, in fact, before the yearly supply boat has been able to break through the pack ice from the open sea. The team have considerable experience kayaking in these conditions, however they would be the first to acknowledge that although feasible, the trip is an extreme undertaking and they will have to rely on a certain amount of good fortune with weather and ice conditions. Throughout the expedition the coast is uninhabited and they will have to be self reliant, surviving by their wits and experience.
Pete and Martin have strong links with Angmagssalik, having been involved from its conception, with the community kayak club project. On arrival in Angmagssalik, which they anticipate could take 50 + days, they will leave their kayaks and equipment with the local school / kayak club, which they helped establish in 2000 when Pete and Martin were involved with the Return of the Kayak (ROK) Expedition, and again in 2002 and 2004 when at the end of the expeditions they ran courses for the club.
The Sports Council for Wales - grant aid support for overseas expeditions. www.sports-council-wales.co.uk
Nigel Dennis Kayaks - donated three “Explorer” expedition sea kayaks. www.seakayakinguk.com
Lendal Products - donated 4 x 4 piece carbon composite “Kinetic Touring” paddles. www.lendal.com
Chill Cheater - donated transpire fleece thermals, spraydecks and custom made shotgun and rifle deckmounted dry bags. www.chillcheater.com
Kokatat USA - donated Gortex dry suits and paddling gear. www.kokatat.com
Kari-Tek - donated midge jackets and portage straps. www.kari-tek.co.uk
Nookie Xtreme Sports Equipment - donated dry bags and deck bags. www.nookie.co.uk
Mountain Equipment UK - donated 3 x Snowline sleeping bags. www.mountain-equipment.co.uk
Gino Watkins Memorial Trust - (Scott Polar Research Institute) financial support during 2002, 2004 and again in 2006. www.spri.cam.ac.uk
The Artic Club - financial support for 2006. www.arcticclub.org.uk
McMurdo - loan of updated PLB FastFind Plus. (Rescue beacon) www.mcmurdo.co.uk
Eimskip UK / Royal Arctic Line - support with free expedition freight to Greenland. www.eimskip.co.uk
Hitch n Hike - donation of MSR stove and GPS system. www.hnh.dircon.co.uk
Robens Tents Denmark - donation of 3 man expedition dome tent and sleeping mats. www.outwell.dk
Seal Skinz - waterproof socks and gloves. www.sealskinz.com
Sunshine Solar Ltd - 2 x solar battery chargers. www.sunshinesolar.co.uk
Iceland Air - Icelandair launches twice-weekly direct flights between Manchester and Iceland on 7th April 2006. Flights depart Fridays and Mondays - ideal for a long weekend or a mid-week break. Icelandair continues to fly from Heathrow and Glasgow to Iceland and on to six USA gateways: New York, Boston, Baltimore-Washington, Minneapolis-St Paul, Orlando and San Francisco. www.icelandair.co.uk
Ectodermal Dysplasia Society - The charity we are raising support for. www.ectodermaldysplasia.org
10th July: Flying to Greenland today, via Iceland.
11th July: Stop over in Iceland. Fly to Greenland tomorrow.
12th July: Spent the day in Iceland waiting for our flight to Greenland. We received a warm welcome from Steini Sigurlaugsson of Sea Kayak Iceland (www.seakayakiceland.com) and Hadas Feldman who is working there. Visit www.seakayak.co.il to see how Rotem is doing on her fantastic paddle around Iceland.
13th July: We flew to Scoresby Sound and were glad to discover that our kayaks had survived shipping well. We made camp nearby. The whole village was excited by a walrus sighting and were all trying to shoot it.
14th July: Woke to the shot of a rifle only yards away as the walrus hunt continued. Spent most of the day packing 60 days supplies in boats before heading off. Set out to cross Scoresby Sound but ice too thick. Turned back after several hours of trying to find a route through.
Headed back to land and climbed a hill to see a route through. The whole Sound is clogged and the onshore wind will keep it that way. It might be a waiting game.
15th July: Slept in. Sorted kit. Cooked on fire to save fuel. Just waiting for ice to clear, might be some time.
16th July: Woke to find a polar bear's tracks close to the tent, so sleeping with the shotgun loaded. Climbed a hill for a view of the ice. Still very frozen but a small chance.
We can find a way through so will have an early start and see what happens.
17th July: Made a second attempt at crossing Scoresby Sound today. Managed four miles of the twenty mile crossing before reaching impassable ice. It was quite tricky getting back through it. Back to the waiting game. P.S. Had lunch on an iceberg not often you get to do that.
18th July: Wind strength increasing, unfortunately from the wrong direction, blowing more ice in and cold. Really need a strong easterly wind to blow the ice out if we are ever going to get a chance at crossing this Sound.
19th July: Another day of waiting. Conditions are much the same. Pete livened up the day by nearly falling into the water, much to the amusement of the other expedition members.
20th July: Walked up the hill again to have a look at the ice. Far less of it today. Will have another attempt at crossing tomorrow if the wind isn't too strong.
21st July: We've crossed Scoresby Sound! 30 miles with a bit of a head wind. Quite tiring but glad to finally be moving. We've eaten into our supplies quite heavily with the wait, so we need to put some miles in. Saw a pair of Arctic Hare's still in their winter coats.
22nd July: Sunshine, breathtaking views and not much sea ice. Fantastic day. A strong headwind in the afternoon cut it a bit short, but still 12 miles closer.
23rd July: The wind and swell had increased over night, so we couldn't paddle today. Shot and ate a Grouse for tea.
24th July: We experienced good weather today, not much ice. Managed to paddle 20 miles. More Grouse for tea! We camped on the ruins of an old Inuit settlement. The houses were like Igloos but made of rock and earth.
25th July: Reasonable weather. We were slowed down by thick ice, but only for a couple of miles. Steep cliffs prevented us landing where planned, forcing us to take a commiting open crossing in fog, on a bearing. We've paddled 40 miles in 10 hours. Tired but happy.
26th July: A cold and foggy day, with a couple of open crossings, which had to be done on a bearing. Had a shower under a hot spring waterfall to warm up at lunch.
27th July: Another foggy and cold day. Rounded Kap Dalton and landed on Kap Barcley. Sun came out in the evening, hopefully a sign of the weather changing for the better.
29th July: We are having to find our way through a lot more ice now. This is because we are coming into a much more heavily glaciated part of the coast. Fortuantely, the weather is staying stable which is allowing us to maintain our progress. Camped at Kap Caster tonight. Thanks to Karel from Terra Santa for the weather forecasts.
30th July: Today we got trapped out in the pack ice. We had to climb out onto the ice, as the strengthening wind caused it to close in on us. We had to drag our boats from ice flow to ice flow until we got to an open lead to paddle back to land. Only 15 miles covered, but all safe and well.
31st July: The wind from last night had increased by this morning, forcing a day off the water. Rain kept us in the tent untill the afternoon, when it cleared, allowing us to dry out kit.
1st August: Lots of ice all day today, but no wind, so not much of a problem. Paddled 38 miles in the sunshine. Camped at Sokongens Bugt.
2nd August: Another calm, sunny day. Lots of ice that got thicker as the day went on. When we got to Kap Dursey the ice became inpenetrable. Landed and walked up high to have a look and there was no way we were going to get through. Just have to wait and see what happens.
3rd August: The ice is still too thick to go anywhere. Rain kept us in the tent most of the day. Barometer dropping all the time.
4th August: Still blocked by ice. Barometer continued to drop all day. Rain and wind increased, but not too badly. Karel, our weather forecaster, says same for tomorrow.
5th August: Still blocked in by ice. Barometer staying low. Began discussing how long we can afford to stay here, time being the main factor with the short summer season. Don't need to make that decision yet as we can't go in either direction.
6th August: Still blocked in by ice. This afternoon the barometer started to rise. The wind and rain stopped and the ice started to open up slightly. Not much but a start.
7th August: Still stuck. Woke up this morning to thick fog. Wouldn't normally stop us, but you need reasonable visibility to spot the leads in compact ice. All we can do is hope it clears tomorrow.
8th August: Today we decided to have one final go at going south. We managed a couple of miles before we once again hit impassable ice. We had decided that it would be our last attempt, as we were running out of time. With great sadness and reluctance, we turned around and headed back towards Scoresby. Shortly after, we spotted a polar bear swimming towards us. A couple of warning shots persuaded it to keep its distance. We managed to make our way to Sokonens Bugt through thick, but passable ice, where we had a second polar bear come within 50m of our camp. Hope the photos come out ok with all the camera shake!
9th August: A foggy but warm day. More open crossings on a bearing. Keeps you concentrating. Pete found a Narwale skeleton and managed to extract the tusk.
10th August: Managed 20 miles before the wind and tide action on a thicker area of ice caused us to cautiously retreat, in exactly the same place as we were caught out before.
11th August: Swell and ice in the morning. Felt like Jason and the Argonaughts going through the clashing rocks. Swell replaced by fog in the afternoon, interesting trying to find and follow leads and stay on a bearing. All cleared in the evening allowing us to do a respectable 24miles. Camped on Kap D'Augney.
12th August: Foggy but tail wind and not much ice. 24 miles. Camped at Kap Barclay.
13th August: Big tides today as I'm sure you are experiencing at home as well, other than that ideal paddling conditions, not much ice or wind. We are 36 miles closer to home.
14th August: Ideal paddling conditions. Went past the hot spring waterfalls again, had a shower in our dry suits. We've paddled 28 miles today. Eider duck for tea.