More ice than I knew what to do with by Lynsey Devon
As I rested on the shores of Reykjavik at Harpa, Reykjavik’s spectacular new music hall on the harbor, I immersed myself in contemporary Scandinavian architecture under the blazing August sun. My embarkation time was approaching and like a game of peekaboo, a large sign offering me a fishing trip was skewing my view of the ship; I was about to start my adventure on. I finally spotted the sleek expedition vessel that was going to be my home for the next two weeks and rushed forth.
Like most people, I have a bucket list of things I want to do before I die, and one has always been to visit Greenland the final frontier of Europe. I am a mountain girl who loves snow and ice but not really one to slum it or cruise. To me Greenland has always held an illusion of being a mystical land where people live and work with the elements. When I told friends and family where I was off to with Quark Expeditions the leader in polar adventures, most looked at me in bemusement. “Why, what will you see, it’s Green and don’t they live in igloos!”
At length I explained that I was off to learn about the culture of the Greenlanders, get close up and personal with the ice whilst staying on the well-appointed vessel, Sea Spirit. The ship was previously used exclusively in Quark’s Antarctic season, so it being a smaller ship appealed to me. It boasts larger “suite-sized” cabins, as well as private facilities and exterior views in every cabin. The hot tub on the back deck was a place to relax after a day of kayaking -- or as I have now learnt – “paddling”, from my Kayak leader. Whilst the food served three times a day in the formal dining room was appealing, tasty and stylish, the bar at night was open when one needed bubbles. The Expedition Team led by Alex Mc’Neil, a very charming, and silent but powerful type of Expedition leader from Canada, along with the Ship’s Captain’s Peter and Oleg, took our expedition to places that would involve new encounters both exciting and magical.
With 80 clients onboard the ship, there were 18 different nationalities from the USA to Australia and folks from all walks of life; from the husband whose wife refused to come on such an adventure to a family of three who live down the road from me in the UK. Of course, we were also rubbing shoulders with the multi-millionaires staying in the rather lovely Captain’s suite. The promise of new experiences bonded us all together.
I am not one for sitting still, so I opted to join the kayak team, eager for my first adventure. Just eight of us, we were a small knit community comprised of a retired Israeli pediatrician, a 17 year-old, fun-loving California dude who was a cool addition to the team, Scott and Judy from the United States, Karl from New Mexico and the lovely, calm Canadians Laura and Jim.
We were on the deck ahead of schedule dressed in brand new fashionable dry suits, ready for action. After a relaxed zodiac ride along the coast, we kayakers disembarked in to our one or two-man boats. After a quick team photo, the group began exploring the northern coast of Skoldungenfjord. Steep rock cliffs were littered with the 20cm tall Greenland willow forest. Black lichen speckled the rocks and we were granted a true sense of scale as we navigated along the coastline. The headwind challenged the group’s paddling abilities, but perseverance and muscle reigned as we pushed across wind and swell. A few small icebergs dotted the waters and I enjoyed getting up close and personal with bergy bits; even eating them and bringing a piece of 10,000 year old ice back to the ship for the vodka and tonic!
Read Part 2 Greenland Explorer from Lynsey Devon