- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

21 Aug. Sissimiut

This was an afternoon stop. Again a little village on the edge of a fjord. With a population of around a 1000 it main source of income is the fishing industry. Tourism is slowly coming but there is hardly any infrastructure for it, and the sightseeing buses are those not in use for the regular bus services. However they do cherish their history and there is an open air museum with a 18th century church, a peat house, a house dedicated to the history of coffee drinking in Denmark and a house that shows the history of the colonisation of the area and the development. Coffee drinking is an important part of Danish culture and going around to the neighbours for coffee in the morning was and is still an integral part of the social fabric of the community. So we saw a plethora of coffee cans, coffee grinders, variations in coffee beans and all that comes with the art of drinking a good cup of coffee. Very nostalgic was the display of childerens books published by the Danish coffee houses. With each pack of coffee you got a picture that had to go in the book and the challenge was to get the book complete. I remember myself doing that with series of birds, ships and other topics that came with my father’s tobacco in Holland. A lively exchange system must have been in place among the children in order to try and get their collections complete.

Tours mainly consist of walking tours around the town with a guide and there is a panoramic bus tour. I escorted one of the walking tours that was led by an Inuit girl.
A highlight of this walking tour is a kayak demonstration. With the arrival of motorboats, the use of traditional kayaking has been declining. However in the 1980’s young people took kayaking up as a sport and there are now yearly Greenland championships. There are roughly a 1000 enthusiasts, which is considerable taking into account the total population of 40000 in the whole of Greenland. The demonstration consisted of showing how a kayaker protected itself against being hit by an iceberg, being swamped by a diving Whale or being pulled over while trying to pull in a seal or walrus. The main trick in most cases was to roll over, keep the kayak between you and the iceberg and surface again at a distance. So here we saw a guy rolling over in freezing cold water time after time. Rolling left, rolling right, rolling with the peddle, rolling without the peddle, with gear on the kayak, without gear on the kayak, etc.etc. In the old days they had seal skin clothing to protect them and the kayaks were made from whalebones and sealskin. Now the kayaker wore a wet suit and the kayak is made out of wood and canvas covering.

After visiting the open-air museum, our tour ended with listening to an Inuit choir. Apart from some local songs, they also sang Silent Night Holy Night in Greenlandic
With the request to us to sing along. Now is my Greenlandic not what it used to be, as was with most of the others in the audience, so we politely refused.

We had to anchor today, as the dock was taking by the local supply boat, which was a big brute of a North Sea Oil Rig supplier with an ice bow and so could service the community in summer and winter. The ships tenders docked at a floating platform, which rose and fell with the water movement, so boarding and leaving the tender was a bit of a tricky affair.

The ship sailed at 6 pm. to cover the final leg of the voyage to Kangerlussuaq (pronounce Kanga-lu-sak) of 152 miles, where we will all disembark tomorrow morning.

1 Comment

  1. Well done! Hice job !

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