The end of the voyage

Published on 22.08.2011 - Avannaq 2011

Bertrand, Christophe, Pierre with his compagne Annie welcomed by A. Mathiassen from Qaasuitsup Kommunia council.

Bertrand, Christophe, Pierre with his compagne Annie welcomed by A. Mathiassen from Qaasuitsup Kommunia council.

© Pierre Auzias

The last leg of our sailing was a very quite one, perhaps a bit too quite because there was almost no wind at all... Without our very faithful motor, we should be still fishing some cod in the south west of Disko!

Nuuk, port of call from 5 to 9 August : there, they mostly used time to meet various personality able to send back "a grown up Greenland" image to B. Lozay instructional film. Young politician, economist, social leaders, seekers and a young famous artist who have been kind to inform them about Greenland new expectations. By these interviews, they wished to illustrate how fast Greenlanders are able to find new creative and inspiring ways to become more and more competitive and attractive for other countries around the world.

The last 187 nautical miles

Excerpts of their logbook : "At least, we left Nuuk the 9th of August convinced that we should stop to Sissimiut to tank fuel as the wind was  imperceptible. Seals and malamuks and sometimes a rare humpback whale showed up as to break the extreme monotony of our slow progression to the North. At night, the fog was coming back, thick and stressing our senses as we always expected icebergs. But there, they was no sing of iceberg until 30 miles from the coast. Avannaq choosed to stay 15 miles from the coast line as passenger ships & fishing trawlers mostly used a course between 5 and 10 miles from it. Then the 187 nautical miles from Nuuk to Sissimiut went fine with some beautiful moments admiring the formidable mountains summits.

Sissimiut! I am never tide to enjoy the magnificent old town always looking as new restored and the crew was happy and positive to discover this dynamic colourful town in full expansion where people seemed to be very open and confident.

In the harbour I could see a new boat design remarkable by its simplicity. Built in ordinary plywood there were about 15 of this kind of design sailing around. and then I  found the little shipyard along the harbour.

Two of these "21ft. Umiaq" as called by local hunters was on their way to be ended. A hunter whose name Thorkild Leinnart with a 25 years boat builder experience from Sissimiut explained that this boat was a concept out of many talk between hunters. A beautiful example telling long about traditional common sense. Thorkild told me about the growing difficulties by  sailing up the stream in Isortoq fjord with their heavy polyester builded craft. "The massive smelting of snow and ice in Isortoq made the river less and less practicable and we had to find out with a new boat concept very light, flat with a few centimeters draught, cheap by the chosen materials and fast to built. We only need some 20.000 Dkk (2.600 €) and 2 days of work where we all help each other. We have to adapt us to weather changes and to go on with our way of leaving. With this little boat we can sail up into the river in the bottom of the fjord and carry back up to 12 reindeers  and a third of musk oxen." This project is a beautiful collective realisation helped by the town lending this little ship yard to many hunters.

Greenland second culture house

As Nuuk with "Katuaq" inaugurated in 1997, Sissimiut is now very proud  of "Taseralik", Greenland second culture house. A beautiful and dynamic building with theater, exhibition hall and cafeteria. "Taseralik" is an island south by the entrance of the fjord Nanutoq. For generations it have been known as an assembling place for Northerners and Southerners.
A symbolic name for the new Sissimiut cultural house built in 2007 and opened since the 1st of March 2008 by Herman Berthelsen Mayor of the town.

I did enjoyed the present photography exhibition with some of the best pictures from one of the most respected Greenlandish photograf Rolf Muller, famous here and in Danmark from more than 30 years for his Greenlandic calendar.

As we got informed about ice-blokus around Ilulissat, I choosed to sail by the west of Disko, a shorter route than by Vaigat Strait between Disko east side and Nuussuaq west coast. Then only 50 miles was left to Uummannaq. Anyway a 374 nautical miles jump which took 4 days as the fog and an intense icebergs traffic turned these last miles into one of the journey hardest part....

Screaming and dancing on the rocks

The 17th of August at 01.00 o' clock In the  early dawn as we rounded the entrance of Uummannaq fjord, the fog cleared up. As an altar on the sea, religiously illuminated by the sunrise, Uummannaq approached slowly....Children recognizing Avannaq went out from school screaming and dancing on the rocks, then people from the fish factory and the hospital. My  friends Hans with Jean Michel Roche from Granville and Henrik went out in their powerful run-about shooting their joy with their rifle some meters from Avannaq's stern. Hundred of people was now running to the harbour. These four days without sleeping was stimulated by a new and unknown energy. I was proud  by the fact that Granville and Uummannaq was definitively twinned as Appolo Mathiassen from Qaasuitsup Kommunia council went to express it some minutes later in his speech.

After 3600 miles (6700km) from Granville to Uummannaq by the difficult west coast of Ireland, I was satisfied to had rediscovered the time necessary to joint these two points- as if I wondered to ask myself about my own right to live with the people I have chosen somewhere in my childhood....

With all my thanks to Avannaq crew whom never loose courage. Jacques Poumet from Granville to Reykjavik, Bertrand Lozay from Granville to Uummannaq, Christophe Revol from Reykjavik to Uummannaq.

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