The Schooner Hildur sails to Greenland
On the 18th of August 2010 the schooner Hildur set sail from Húsavík, Iceland on it’s journey to the east coast of Greenland. Captain and expedition leader was Heimir Harðarson and most of the crew were employees of North-Sailing. The destination of the journey was Scoresby Sound which extends about 350 km into the coastline and is considered to be the longest and largest fjord in the world. After about 48 hours of sailing past some majestic glaciers we did finally see land.
Approaching Greenland (Photo: Heimir Harðarson)
Our first stop was in Ittoqqortoormiit, one of the most remotetowns in Greenland. About 500 people live there, the majority being Inuits. The crew was welcomed by the inhabitants, especially the youngest who are always very curious when guests appear.
A young villager says hello to the guests (Photo: Heimir Harðarson)
The crew got some invaluable tips from the villagers before sailing deeper into the fjord and received some Muskox meat as a parting gift. Of course we wasted no time in throwing that on the grill!
The village, Ittoqqortoormiit (Photo: Heimir Harðarson)
In NerleritInat Airport we picked up new crew members who had flown in from Iceland and now fully manned we sailed further into the fjord with a crew of 19 people of 5 different nationalities: Icelandic, Swedish, German, Canadian and one sturdy sailor all the way from New Caledonia. Pretty soon it was like being part of a big family. The youngest crew member was 15 and the oldest 79!
We worked in four hour shifts and every crew member had a role on board. It was especially important to have some alert people looking out for icebergs which are always a danger. We sailed past Milne Land and stopped next to a small island called Denmark Island in a beautiful natural harbour named Hekla Havn.
Hildur ankered in Hekla Havn (Photo: Heimir Harðarson)
We had been warned never to go ashore unarmed, therefore we had two rifles with us if we should have a violent encounter with the king of the arctic, the Polar Bear. This never happened to the lament of several crew members. In this place we met some climbers who were very far away from home, all the way from Australia.
White wooley flowers (Photo: Heimir Harðarson)
Now we sailed into Fön Fjord, named after the notorious Foehn Wind. At the bottom of the fjord we met a group of scientists doing some Narwhal research and a group of Inuit hunters. We were just in time as they were preparing a Muskox steak!
Inuits preparing a muskox steak (Photo: Heimir Harðarson)
We decided to sail early the next morning since we had a long journey ahead of us. At 3 AM it was bright as day and time to leave. Now we sailed north east in Rödefjord. We saw great chunks of Icebergs fall into sea which was an amazing sight. We now turned east through Ö Fjord, one of the many beautiful fjords in the area, and we were stunned by the beautiful landscape around us.
The cliffs tower about 2000 meters from the surface and are aptly named Storhamrene, or The Great Cliffs. In this incredible place we simply had to stop the engine and pull up the sails and enjoy this wondrous scenery in silence, only broken occasionally by icebergs splitting apart.
Rödefjord (Photo: Heimir Harðarson)
Iceberg on the move! (Photo: Heimir Harðarson)
Finally we reached our destination, Bear Islands at the northernmost tip of Milne Land, that large island we now had circumnavigated and large it certainly is, almost 4000 square kilometres. Now it was time for a barbecue!
(Photo: Halla Marín Hafþórsdóttir)
The weather was excellent and some crew members could not resist the temptation to have a refreshing swim in the sea at 71° latitude.
The next day, after waving goodbye to seals and polar rabbits that watched us with interest, we set sail for Sydkap, our last destination in Greenland before heading home. Sydkap is a place where many hunters regularly gather.
It was difficult to part with Greenland, this magnificent place that had made a deep and everlasting impact on us all. On the way home we encountered to our delight some sperm whales. Some of the crew members are whale watching guides and had never seen this species before.
We also sailed past Kolbeinsey (Kolbeins Island) or rather, what little is left of it. Kolbeinsey is the northernmost part of Iceland but is subject to wave erosion and expected to disappear completely in a few years.
Ten days after sailing out of Húsavík harbour we were finally home again and warmly greeted by friends and families.
(Photo: Þórunn Harðardóttir)