18th– 22nd  July 2023 : Birthday, Nuuk and Mike Horn

Well, that was quite a birthday party! I am so grateful to the beautiful people of Ugly Betty for their kind and generous hospitality. Nicky, Jon, Nora and Bruce provided us with a great platform with panoramic views and warm luxury as well as great company and fascinating conversations. Johanna, Sigurd, Ida and Johannes from Thindra were already there when we arrived and we got to meet Ugly Betty’s german neighbours, Thomas and Frauke from S/Y Walkabout. We brought over some homemade pizza and drunk the night away with fascinating tales of how we all got here.

The following couple of days are spent on necessary chores and a bit of sightseeing. Laundry, provisioning, gun purchase for the polar bears, engine oil etc… Nuuk has everything one would need. With a population of almost 20000, it does have the feeling of a big city. Even though we didn’t get a warm welcome from the Harbour master, a bitter Danish guy who clearly hates sailboats, we have found local people to be genuinely friendly – despite being the largest city of Greenland. The numerous cranes scattered around the town reveal an irrefutable economic growth in the capital.

Calin and I went to the National Museum, a fantastic display of Inuit way of life – well worth the visit and I wish I had allowed more time before closing.

But the biggest highlight of the last few days is undeniably meeting Mike Horn. This south African modern explorer has been a tremendous inspiration for us and we have lived by his quote “if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough”. We may not have taken the plunge of this polar expedition if we hadn’t been warned to dream big and go beyond our limits of fear.
It all happened when, on his way back from the chandlery, Calin pops over to Pangaea for a closer look of the majestic custom built ketch tied to the mooring in the center of the harbour. The man himself was standing on the aft deck and so a casual conversation ensued. When Calin calls me to drop the laundry right there and come and meet Mike, I literally run back to the boat with a grin bigger than my head. And before I could realize what was happening, I was having a cup of coffee with Mike Horn on his yacht. We pulled out our Greenland to Berring Strait chart and discussed our plans. His stories of polar expeditions were extraordinarily captivating and his tips for navigating through the ice of the NWP invaluable. We ended up spending well over 2 hours and not once we felt like a burden to him. It was like chatting with another navigator, just 8000 times more adventurous and audacious. We all found Mike super cool, down to earth and downright inspiring and the buzz of this encounter lasted for days.

The following day, Calin lost his phone over the side in the harbour and still fresh from Mike’s inspiration for resilience and toughness, he did not hesitate to put on his windsurfing wet suit, borrowed a BCD and oxygen bottle from Ugly Betty (we are once again in debt!) and went diving through the forest of kelp in near freezing water. Impressively, he found his phone and managed to rescue the sim card, albeit not the phone itself.

We didn’t find Nuuk super charming but with many stores within walking distance, it is a good place for shopping spree. We have taken Mike’s advice and also purchased ice picks and ice screws to be able to tie ourselves to a floating ice flow and let ourselves drift with the ice, rather than getting the anchor chain stuck amongst bergs – a battle we would undoubtedly lose.

And by the way, out of the blue and for no particular reason, the watermaker is functionning again… We are puzzled, but immensely relieved!

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