Friday 31st August

After another stormy night we arrived in Ilulissat in Disko Bay.

This is where the Ilulussat Kangerlua (Jakobshave Icefjord) meets the sea. From this icefield massive blocks of ice calve (break off) and are taken by wind and currents across the Davis Strait and Baffin Bay where they are caught by the southward flowing Labrador Current and into the Atlantic off Newfoundland and Labrador where they are constantly monitored to ensure maritime traffic is warned of the icebergs’ progress. We accessed the icefjord by fishing boat where we toured icebergs which are amazingly big, beautifully carved and layered with colour from black to turquoise blue and pure white.

Occasionally the boat would nudge into smaller pieces of ice, called growlers, which once broken slip down the side of the boat. According to a guide book the icefjord produces 20 million tons of ice per day, equal to the volume of water used by New York City in one year! It is thought that the first Europeans to visit here were the Vikings who hunted seals and walruses. How appropriate that we are on a Norwegian ship! The 17th century saw the settlement expand as the Dutch, English and Scottish whalers established onshore production centres. In 1780 the Danish king decided that the entire business should be only for Greenland and even had a naval battle to oust the Dutch from the harbour.

As we write this we are anchored at 69deg 13min North and 51deg 06min West with a 360 degree view of icebergs and floes in Ilulissat harbour which in Inuit (Inuktituk) means icebergs. The sea water in the harbour is crystal clear leading one to be able to see the underwater sections if icebergs. Many of the icebergs are initially stuck on a rock barrier that shallows the water at the end of any fjord. Today only the floes and older and smaller bergs can make it into the sea. Those that do make it to the sea past the past with such speed that they had passed the observer before one could say ‘iceberg’. We are currently at – 3 hours BST. We gain another hour tonight, but first from Deck 5 a view of the sunset over the Davis Strait.

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