ABOARD MV/ SEA SPIRIT-We cannot safely go into the Kangerlussuaq Fjord.
Instead, representatives from Air Greenland will board the ship today and check us in, providing boarding passes to Copenhagen. Luggage to be checked must be ready for tagging before dinner. We will be called by decks to bring bags down to the Ocean Lounge where we will receive our passports and boarding passes. Luggage will be flown in a sling by helicopter to the airport in Kanderlussuaq.
We and one piece of hand-luggage apiece will go in groups of 19 by zodiac to one of two potential pickup spots. It will be a wet landing so hang on to your boots for another day and bring shoes, too. A helicopter will pick us up for the 25-minute flight to the airport. Details to follow at the Captain’s farewell party tonight.
Whew. Between finding alternative places to take us, giving talks and conducting expeditions, where did they find the time to plan all of that?
And this afternoon we will go to Itishek settlement for a home visit and the traditional soccer game between villagers and Sea Spirit’s crew and passengers. The mind boggles at this indefatigable, multitasking group.
Consummate story teller Huw distracts us with a lively biography of his late father-in-law and what makes an explorer. In a word, stubbornness.
“When people say it can’t be done, people like Wally say why not?”
And how do you become an explorer?
“You just begin.”
We also get a presentation of Poseidon’s other polar expeditions to South Greenland and its Viking heritage, East Greenland and Greenlandic National Park, Franz Joseph Land and the North Pole (via a Russian, atomic-powered ice breaker). To the south, the Antarctic, Shetland Islands, South Georgia and the Falklands.
Between sinus infection and packing chores, I decide to skip the visit to Itishek, but like everyone else on board, will be front and center for the Captain’s Farewell party.
We gather in the lounge, the mood a combination of sadness to see a journey end, anticipation of our adventurous departure and anxiety about same.
We don’t have to wait long.
We will start check-in with Air Greenland at 9:15 p.m. tonight. At 3:55 a.m. the first group lifts off and we must be ready 30 minutes ahead of the flight. The zodiac to the pickup site will take about 5 minutes and the pickup point will be in the Iketoq Fjord area. Our assigned groups and departure times will be posted on the board in reception.
We are warned not to
- wear baseball caps, scarves or anything that might blow away.
- run toward the helicopter or approach it until the blades have stopped turning.
- Take photos once boarding has started.
The process has been meticulously timed:
19 passengers peer flight plus one staff member.
5 flights at 25 minutes each to perfection = 125 minutes
15 minutes getting on and off per flight
3 ½ hours total.
Necessary because more than 100 passengers must reach the ship in the same way for the next cruise.
We luck out; ours is the fourth group, scheduled departure 9:45 a.m.
The kitchen is opening early, boxed breakfasts for those leaving before dawn, regular service for the rest of us.
You would never know the kitchen and wait staff will get very little sleep tonight. They encourage everyone to linger, enjoying the meal and saying goodbyes. We take photos with those who have served and fed us so well and they do the traditional napkin waving circuit of the dining room in farewell.