Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 6 - can't stop the signal

I broke camp and packed the boat - badly.  The take-out point consisted of various boulders of less-than-helpful shapes and sizes, slippery when wet and clearly the local hang-out for the "winged-teeth" chapter of the local mosquito clan - ravenous bastards!  Suffice it to say I got hot, wet and sweaty before clambering into the boat and paddling.  I would later find just how badly I had packed the boat.  Earlier, I had been having problems when deploying the rudder - my left leg and buttock would cramp up about one and a half hours of paddling every time I used the rudder.  Today I started paddling without.

Today's crossing was going to be around four to five hours depending on various factors.  I had already decided to abandon any unnecessary detours and go straight for the island on which the settlement of Saattut is situated.  I needed to make contact or at least be in a position to make contact with Lars and Jane as soon as possible.  The weather was in my favour and the bergs were again in the minority.

About an hour away from the end of the island, after an uneventful crossing, I found out how badly trimmed the boat was.  The weather picked up and I was weather-cocking, bow-heavy with a stern like a sail.  I might like to have bulging biceps but I didn't fancy sporting a half-Schwarzenegger as I used way too much left arm to compensate.  I decided to drop the rudder and had to grit my teeth as the cramp problem started almost the instant the rudder hit the water.  Weird.  I couldn't figure out if it was mental or physical pain I was experiencing.  I now think that I am abnormally long in the leg and can't cope with one leg pushing on the rudder pedals and the other not.  I do have to admit that I have never had much luck rigging the rudder - I can never get the lengths of string/cable right.  Regardless, there was nothing I could do about it. 

Paddle on.

I like naming campsites.  My favourite being Reasonably Flat Rock, because it was.  On arriving, finally, at the beachy cove at the far end of Saattut island I explored a little before tossing my dry bags up the incredibly steep slope between the sea and the flat ground on which to camp.  I found a dead raven and immediately christened the campsite: Raven's Death Campsite

I love ravens. I have seen them tease my sledge dogs, hopping into their territory and hopping just out of reach of the dogs' chains.  I have tried umpteen times to take good photos of ravens and never succeeded.  I have been amazed at their vocal range and variety of calls, and even more amazed at those of my pupils who could imitate them.  Ravens are said to be as smart as dogs and I believe they are - sometimes perhaps even smarter.  They are big, tough, carnivorous buggers and they are very common in the Arctic.  There is no question as to why I have them on the TSS2010 logo. 

Of course, this fella was dead. 

Time to unpack the boat and set up camp.

It doesn't take long to develop a routine, especially when paddling alone.  I knew which dry bags I needed first and in what order I wanted to set up my camp.  No matter what, the tent comes first.  In foul weather it is a priority of course, but in the sun with a good breeze I can relax and take my time.  When I am tired after a long paddle, I just need to keep going before crashing inside the tent.  The worst possible conditions for putting up the tent and organising camp is warm, wet weather, no breeze and a shit-load of midges.  Mosquitoes I can cope with and the bug repellent holds them at bay, but midges ... midges and I have danced together on countless occasions in Scotland.  If the midge population in Greenland ever reaches Scottish proportions ... well ... I would have to seriously consider relocating!

On this fine day though everything went well.  I set up camp in good spirits, secured the kayak way above the water and "iceberg" line, then trekked up the cliff side a little to find a signal for the mobile.  I sent a few text messages and then decided to settle in for the night and hit "town" in the morning.


  1. Your photos never cease to amaze me Chris - such a beautiful part of the world! Love the look of that GP too (of course!). Cheers - FP