Sunday, 10 February 2013



The Golden Cloud 10/2/2013

And so on came 3 months in Greenland. I arrived with 3 gentlemen from ITN News producing for Channel 4 about the recent low sea ice and high melt of the Arctic Ocean and Greenland. It was a fantastic experience for my first few days as not only did it take the focus off me but also it meant it was all recorded for showing friends and family when I got home!

Channel 4 News Footage (via youtube)

Sailing in the High Arctic is something quite amazing, through the 500 odd miles I clocked up on the 47ft Gambo, the 3m rib and the 4m hovercraft we cruised through gigantic ice sculptures the size of towerblocks, and hugh pads of sea ice. Temperatures down to -29°c added to by icy cold winds off the ice sheet, and the towering Store and Lille Glaciers, the brightly coloured Inuit settlements delicately placed on stunning mountainsides, the quietness of the long winter night. It is defiantly something I’ll never forget.
Arctic Fox

2 arctic hares (photo: James Killingbeck)

I saw the beautiful Arctic Fox, Arctic Hare’s bouncing off on a ridge above the ice sheet as we went to check time-lapse cameras above the glaciers, striking white Tarmagan flying up from the snow, a Minke Whale diving just infront of the Gambo, as well as our gorgeous and cuddly Greenlandic Dogs (like husky’s) Ukioq (means winter in Greenlandic), Nuliaq (means wife, she was an old moody female so fitting), Tornalique (sort of means spot the dog :P), and Qoorka who we never found what his name meant but he was a lovely cuddly mess!

Ukioq (photo: Alex Baubin)

One of my best memories of my time in Greenland was taking a walk along a snow covered ridge with Ukioq, I fell into a snow drift up to my shoulders. Whilst I rolled out to try to get my legs back from the snow, young Ukioq jumped down onto my chest to save himself from jumping in the snow too, he then proceeded to roll up and fall asleep on me. I thought that was taking it abit far, and we had plenty of walking still to do, so I tossed him back into the drift and walked on! He stared up quite confused, but then gleefully ran on.

Another was of the fantastic Northern Lights we had during the deep dark winter, one night with them gleaming and dancing like never before in Green and shades of red and i think even purple, I got out my sleeping bag on the deck in minus sixteen and watched them till I fell to sleep. The skys out there were stunning, the stars so clear, the moon glistening at times all “day” and all night, and shooting stars flying almost constantly. On the journey back to civilisation I think I may have even seen a supernova (star exploding). Looking up at the stars one suddenly blew up, sending a bright white flash across the darkness, and almost as quickly as it started it was gone. Speaking to friends who think they know science and astronomy they tell me a supernova would have taken longer than the seconds of this, but perhaps it was a shooting star heading straight towards me. Either way it was pretty special.

In Early January it was time to come back, and so we got the Hovercraft out and sped across the sea ice toward the replacement crew. After a few days of failed attempts we finally, safely met up, and back I went. It was quite overwhelming getting back to the Tiny fishing settlement of Ikerasak, after 3 months only seeing Cpt. Nolwenn and crewmate Alex, so many people! so many houses! Then onto the Metropolis of the tiny Uummannaq Settlement, and then the Citadel of Ililusat with its 4000 inhabitants! Every step back to normal civilisation was quite intense but also taught me what I’d learnt about even more than before wanting to live simple, live sustainable, and live resourcefully with what I have, that I didn’t need capitalistic, buy now think later anymore. For the last 4 months I’d washed myself and my clothes using a saucepan on a small hob, rinsing in seawater. Every drop of drinking water from November mined from icebergs, every ounce of food even fresh veg and eggs had been brought with us, so I’d learnt of how to ration and eat reasonably, how to store food for a long period (admittedly in an environment like a freezer). So back to the Golden Cloud I go with new knowledge of how its done!

Now as I know its what everyone wants to see... Pictures

Midday in the winter night!
Warning Sled Dogs

Planking in Illulisat Icefjord

Alex and Nolwenn on the Hovercraft

Base Camp

Capt. Nolwenn

Windows from the inside

The Arrival of the Food Container

View across the sea ice.... notice wolffish skin drying
Working in Base Camp (Photo: James Killingbeck)

The Sea Ice First Forming

Going Fishing in the ice (Photo James Killingbeck)

Ukioq looking over the anchorage (Photo James Killingbeck)

Ukioq in the Snow (Photo James Killingbeck)

Frozen Ice Waterfall (Photo James Killingbeck)

Gambo pre seaice (Photo James Killingbeck)

Ukioq the crazy puppy (Photo James Killingbeck)

Me on an iceberg (Photo James Killingbeck)

Me helming gambo infront of store (Photo James Killingbeck)
The icebergs at sea (photo Alex Baubin)

Kayaking infront of Ikerasak (Photo James Killingbeck)

Ikerasak Harbour (Photo James Killingbeck)

Whale Meat (Photo James Killingbeck)

The ice in Lille/Store Fjords

Me infront of the ice sheet (Photo James Killingbeck)

Dr Alun Hubbard walking across a frozen lake (Photo James Killingbeck)

Ukioq on the Kayak (Photo James Killingbeck)

Gambo in the frozen anchorage (Photo James Killingbeck)

Santa's holiday house

Lille (little) glacier

Gambo anchored off Ikerasak (Photo James Killingbeck)

Me taking C4 out to film (Photo James Killingbeck)
The Fish drying in rigging and ice

C4 filming

c4 news team

Kangerlussuaq Airport sign post

Vietnam type Bell Utility Helicopters we used (yes i did listen to Jimmy Hendrix on my ipod whilst on this)

The ice in Lille fjord

The Very James Bond looking plane at Kanger

Me at Illilisat Airport

Me with precious onions (Photo Alex Baubin)

Sea ice forming

Ice ice baby (Photo Alex Baubin)

Fingers of ice coming down the mountians
The town of Uummannaq

The town of Uummannaq


Lille Outlet Glacier (Lille means little!)

Store Outlet Glacier (store quite rightly means big)

Boat at anchor (Photo: Alun Hubbard)

Ukioq near lille

The Anchorage

Gambo at Store

Pretty Berg

Up the mast

Up the mast


Underwater ice

Ice in store fjord

Failed star jump

Alex attacked by dogs

Ikerasak Harbour ... dog sleds on the harbour

Notice seal blood in fishermans boat

Cpt. James Killingbeck

Nolwenn mending hovercraft

The Crew Swap

Alex and Nolwen

Some pirates i made

Captain and Academic Nolwenn

Frozen breath in my beard

The wolf fish i made pants from

First sight of gambo in Uummannaq harbour

Me at helm (Photo Alex Baubin)

Singing with Soul

1 comment:

  1. Was reading my Erasmus blog getting nostalgic and sad again missing my time abroad, and noticed your Greenland posts which were a welcome distraction! I'm now all finally caught up- great job, congrats! Watching the Northern lights from yer sleeping bag in -16degs must have been amazing... thank god that sleeping bag was so thermal! ... plus drinking water mined from ice-bergs? wow. Amazing bunch of pics too- fav's are 'Ukioq near lille', 'Store Outlet Glacier' and deffo the the 15th photo from the bottom at sunset/sunrise- beautiful!