20 Aug. Llulissat and Godhavn/QeQetarsuaq.
We were supposed to arrive at 7 am, so Lesley had to get up at 6 to be ready for dispatching the tours. Our cabin is right over the engine and when around seven we were not there and the engines stopped, we knew something was amiss.
Although the sun was brightly shining, the wind had picked up, wind force six to seven, which caused a swell to run. However the wind also kept the icebergs confined near Llulissat harbour, causing the ice pilot to advise the captain to stay out. There would not be enough room to anchor and as some of the icebergs were larger then the ship it was not a good idea to be in their way, as they could drift towards the ship due to the wind.
Thus time for plan B. Going to Godhavn on a little island in Disko Bay, another 45 miles up the coast. Godhavn, which mean Good harbour or sheltered port, has approx. 1000 people living there and was originally set up as a trading post and Christian centre by the Danes in 1773. The native name is Qeqetarsuaq (pronounce kwe-kwe-tar-su-ak). I was a bit disappointed as they had advertised that Llulissat had the biggest souvernirshop in the whole of Greenland, and I wanted to see what “big” was in Greenlandic terms. So now I have to forgo that cultural experience. The guests will be disappointed as well as Llulissat is the best place to see icebergs, they are much larger then the ones near Narsaq or those we saw last night at the Eqip Glacier.
Indeed Godhavn was a sheltered harbour being an inlet in the form of a natural Rock circle with a small entrance. We entered the port around 11.30 and found that a fishing boat had taken the prime anchorage. As the captain was not comfortable with staying on the engines in the harbour itself we went outside again and floated a mile off the port. The sun was shining brightly and the high mountains shielded the port from the wind. Once again a glorious day.
As the town is located on an island in Disko Bay, it is surrounded with big icebergs and one enormous one had stranded just outside the village. It was in process of falling apart there with large chunks of ice coming down. Apart from fishing and hunting, the town has a large Artic Research Station on top of the cliffs overlooking the village.
We saw a lot of wildlife, including pilot whales and humpback whales feeding near the ship. The town has a church in the form of an incomplete octagonal and it was the first one that I saw with a ships model. A kayak, hanging in the centre nave of the church. Most fishermen churches in the world have models hanging in the church, so I had been amazed that the churches I had seen thus far didnâ€™t. This church, built in 1915, is called by the locals “Godâ€™s little Inkpot” due to its shape. The bell tower is separate and there is a little monument, crowned with an anchor from 1899, to commemorate the sailors and fishermen who lost their lives at sea.
One of the things I enjoy as part of my job as a cruise ship captain is the interaction with people or just watching people how they go about their business. Today I was amazed again and surprised. Although everybody went ashore to see the few sights that the town had to offer and to enjoy the impressive scenery, the main topic of interest was the village supermarket. Nearly everybody rushed in to compare the prices with home. Greenland is an expensive country, so for once the prices in England, did not look too bad. But I was amazed: here we have cruise people who travel nearly to the top of the world and what do they do, they go to a supermarketâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦..
The tender dock is interesting as well; it is a nice floating platform but is overlooked by a series of little cannons, lined up in such a way as if they are there to keep the tourists out. However these cannons are from the whaling days. One was used to launch the harpoons against the whales and the rest where there to signal the islanders if and when whales were seen in the vicinity.
Tomorrow we are in our last port Sissimiut.