12th July 2023 : Appilattoq and a broken sonar

We thoroughly enjoyed our sleep in yesterday. Without shame nor guilt, we got up at midday, feeling fresh and still under the spell of the day before. We set out for a wander in the picturesque village with its colourful houses and breathtaking surroundings. About 100 people live here. We met some and are surprised how friendly and happy they all seem. Surprised because they live in such a harsh environment, they’d have plenty of reason to be pissed off with life. Quite the opposite.
We climb the hill and the top offers a splendid panoramic view of the village, the jagged mountains and the blue icebergs floating about. If that wasn’t already a perfect picture, a whale made a appearance and for 15  minutes, we watch it peacefully dance in the water, rounding its dorsal fin and flapping its tail before disappearing. Just incredible.

A Norwegian boat has rafted alongside and we invite them onboard for a drink. We share tips and stories, and good laughs fill the evening.

In the morning, we inflate the tender on the dock and check out the local “supermarket”. With little expectation, we are pleasantly surprised how well stocked up the store is. It is a one-stop shop, that means that you’ll find pretty much anything you may need: vegetables, diapers, lifejackets, knitting wool and even rifles… The attendant patiently explains to us the various guns they have for sale along the bullets. It’s all a bit overwhelming to us so we decide to wait till Nuuk to buy one. It is almost compulsory here and in the Canadian arctic for protection against polar bears. Obviously we hope to we never have to use it.

Another check before departure brings some bad news. Our Echopilot forward sonar has been acting strangely since we went through the ice. It sits under the hull and scans the depth up to 80m ahead of the boat allowing us to be warned of underwater rocks or land. Very useful in Greenland for all these unchartered areas. Upon retrieving it (and flooding half the boat!), we realise that the ice got to it and broke it. Not a show stopper but a big downer as we installed it specifically for this trip. The replacement part is impossible to find locally and it will be tricky to get to Greenland diligently.

The harbour is filling with ice - or storis as they call it so we have to hurry to cast the lines off. Our spirits are rapidly lifted as we motor out of Appilattoq with a pod of swimming seals accompanying us and we find ourselves amongst icebergs again. 
Motorsailing for most of the day, we enjoy the sunny weather. There are massive icebergs everywhere. Sometimes we need to veer to elude them, sometimes they have such an interesting shape and colour that we take a detour to admire their details. Some of them are huge, the size of a building and their imposing mass commands respect. Their blue tint vary in intensity, from a pale hint to a vibrant turquoise. They all have a story to tell and hide a sizable underside. We know they can dopple or break off anytime so we remain cautious not to approach too close.  And when the sun hits them late afternoon, it’s as if they magically turn on their inner light and shine more brightly than anything else around. It is absolutely magic. 

It is 10.30pm when we finally drop anchor by the island of Uunartoq, famous for its natural hot springs. We take a moment in the cockpit to enjoy the stillness of the stunning surroundings. Every now and then, a loud thunder makes us jump up – probably an iceberg breaking down in the distance.

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