Toward Upernavik

July 23

We crossed from Aasiaat to Disko Island, dodging both rocks and icebergs on a calm, sunny afternoon, coming to anchor in Fortune Bay via the south entrance at 11PM. Mosquitos attacked the cockpit immediately.

The bergs on our route sparkled, running with water where the light hit them, and twice a shot like cannon fire and a great splash announced larger disintegrations. In the slot behind Disko where the current moves these giants from the upper bay’s five-mile wide fjord to the sea, bergs lined up as if neatly taking a lane. One had the appearance of a super tanker, another, the top half of the Matterhorn. One was a set of city high-rises; another cork-screwed to spires like Gaudi’s cathedral. Whatever the shape, none appeared as it was in fact, a piece of ice randomly broken from the bitter end of an ice river.

We departed Fortune Bay at 6AM. Bergs had shifted overnight and now blocked the south entrance like chess pieces. We sidestepped their stratagem by departing to the west before turning north for Upernavik, two days up coast. A deck of cloud covered the day, flat over the sea and rolling over Disko in waves. Red and cliffy, Disko is barren but for a dusting of green at the lower margins and could be the backside of any tropical island, except for the snow in the crevices, and the ice cap. A Fulmar colony high in the rock. Water poured in ravines but died in the scree before making the beach. Calm. Temperature 55 degrees.

We motored until a south wind came up in the early afternoon to 20 knots; then sailed fast until it died as we left Disko and the Vaigat astern. Here we crossed into the 70th parallel of north latitude.

And we are motoring still. Winds along Greenland’s west coast tend to blow bitterly cold from the north or warmer from the south, but calms often predominate in summer. Air temperature has dropped to 44 degrees; sea temperature is 36. Light rain and fog. Here too mountainous bergs that have exited through the Vaigat drift in our path.

It is 3AM as I type. The quality of light, even with the overcast, is that of evening.

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