Friday, 17 August 2012

One Ocean Expeditions - Northwest Passage - Goodbye Greenland

Ship: M/V Akademik Ioffe
Operator: One Ocean Expeditions
www.OneOceanExpeditions.com
Itinerary: Northwest Passage 12-26 August 2012

Date: Thu 16 August 2012
Location: Ilulissat, Greenland 66deg 27.5' N, 053deg 57.8' W

Goodbye Greenland.

A farewell to the world's largest island wouldn't be proper without acknowledging the hardy Inuit folk who have lived here on this mini-continent for some 5000 years. In that time they developed a respectful and harmonious coexistence with the land and its resources, always taking only what they need and making full use of their harvest. In modern times, however, their bounty is governed by the Danish who manage the fishing resources and when ashore, you spend Danish Kroner in the gift shops.

The Inuit's traditional game is the smaller whales, seals and birds, using their skin, meat and bones for food and all manner of tools and clothing. Their expert use of dogs on land and kayaks in the water was ignored by arrogant early European explorers, much to their detriment and despair.

It is a fitting tribute to the Inuit to enjoy a kayak excursion among the many bergs and random ice sculptures that adorn the waters of the UNESCO-listed Ilulissat Icefjord. To set the mood, Jimmy, our Tasmanian kayak guide and Elias Inuusuttoq, (pictured) a local expert, compete in a friendly 'roll off' to see who can do the most rolls of their little water craft in the frigid waters of the bay. It was neck-and-neck until Elias trumped the show with a series of cascading lateral rolls, around and round amid sprays of water and failing paddles, bringing the entire ship to spontaneous applause.

The paddle in the fjord was much more subdued as four of us enjoyed a relaxed a water-level view of the mighty bergs in all their frozen
splendour.