We were already in Prince Christian Sund (called Sound in the U.S.) when we awoke. The sun was shining on our verandah making it warm enough to comfortably view the magnificent scenery as we glided through calm water. This sixty-two-mile-long seaway connects the Denmark Strait with the Davis Strait.
Passengers waved from small boats, that came alongside our ship, as we neared a remote village. This village is only accessible by boat from late July through September. The rest of the year their snowmobiles and the heliport are essential. Their lone road ends after 1.2 miles.
Hunters go after marine mammals by kayak. Minke whales, the smallest of the “great whales” can weigh up to twenty-thousand pounds! Though they’re not on the endangered list, the limit here is one-hundred-fifteen per year. They also hunt Fin whales, which are the second largest species of whale, and can weigh forty to eighty tons. Yikes! Though they are on the endangered list they are hunted and consumed in Greenland and Iceland. The Inuit (natives) have an exception to hunting the whales and also making seal products.
As we proceeded southeast, we came upon a large iceberg. Two weeks earlier it was so big a ship had to find another passage. Thankfully it’s melted some and is now only two-hundred twenty meters by one-hundred twenty meters. That’s about half the size of Windsor Castle. On the daily reports from the bridge, our captain always mentions our distance from the final resting place of the Titanic. We’re glad he’s ever watchful for icebergs!
Greenland has ten percent of the world’s reserves of fresh water. Eighty percent of Greenland is covered by an ice sheet that extends coast-to-coast. Historically, the ice cap was rather deserted as Greenlanders opted instead to stay on sea ice with access to fertile waters below. With easier access, the Ice Sheet has become a tourist destination for those in search of an ultimate Arctic adventure.
The island is a Danish dependent territory, with limited self-government and its own parliament. Denmark contributes two-thirds of the island’s budget revenue. The rest comes primarily from fishing.
The language is Kalaallisut and belongs to the Inuit-Aleut family of languages that is spoken by some fifty-six thousand here. With unusually pronounced “q’s” it seems difficult to master. A Greenlandic word can be very long and mean what corresponds to a whole sentence in other languages. The language is roughly divided into four dialects: South Greenlandic, West Greenlandic, East Greenlandic and the Thule dialect. West Greenlandic is the official language which all children learn in addition to Danish and English. Locals are always delighted when visitors try to speak at least a few words of their language. To make it easy, you can start by learning the words “hello”, which is called “aluu”, or “goodbye”, which is simply “baaj” – and thus are reminiscent of English.
Our shipboard tour director shared some of these tidbits as we continued sailing past small icebergs and neared three separate glaciers. One was very large and we got pretty close. We were surrounded by small icebergs that make “chink, chink” sounds as the bow went through. So that everyone could have a good view, the captain rotated the ship a full three-hundred sixty degrees.
Did you know that small icebergs (that stick up less than one meter above the water) are called “growlers?” Ha . . . it’s not just a term for a container used to transport draft beer!
Near the exit of the “Sund” a weather station clung to the hillside. It was hard to imagine how they got all the building materials in place. A short distance away the hill was dotted with antennae’s, evidently keeping Greenland connected to the world.
This was another gala night, and Larry didn’t feel like getting suited up, so we ate in the Lido. We finished in time to get great seats for the evening entertainment by “The Knights.” They sang mostly familiar tunes by Andrew Lloyd Weber, Tom Jones, Rod Stewart, Bono, and Mick Jager.
We retreated to the comfort of our cabin where we lost another hour. Or, shall I say set our clocks forward again. Now we’ll wake up six hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Savings time.