Arctic - Greenland
Introducing Our Greenland Sailing Specialists
New to Classic Sailing in 2012, but old hands at exploring the Arctic and Icelandic waters under sail, we are thrilled to be able to offer a series of 7 day adventure voyages in Greenland on Icelandic owned schooner Hildur. Established in 1995, this family run business was the first to run regular whale watching tours from their home port in Husavik, NE Iceland. Three generations of this local family are now involved in the running of the business, which has grown rapidly each year and is now a leading light in tourism and Icelandic culture. They have restored two wooden schooners Hildur & Haukur and a fleet of historic wooden fishing vessels that now offer a range of sailing, wildlife and whale watching tours on the edge of the Arctic Circle. They have won many tourism awards in Iceland and internationally and Classic Sailing will also be offering their innovative schooner voyages in Iceland, including regular Edge of the Arctic Voyages and Ski and Sail Expeditions.
Each summer one of the schooners ventures North, deep into the Arctic Circle, to the rarely visited East Coast of Greenland. The ocean 'hop' from Iceland is quite challenging with icebergs being swept down from the North, but once schooner Hildur tucks into Scoresby Sound she has a spectacular sailing ground for the short Arctic Summer. A few adventurous yachts now explore West Greenland, but the East Coast requires a more specialist commitment to run charter voyages.
Arctic Under Sail
If you have been inspired by the wildlife on BBC Frozen Planet and the future plight of the Arctic with global warming then this voyage is a way of finding out more for yourself whilst participating as guest ships crew. A self sufficent sailing ship like Hildur takes you into a remote polar wilderness in an environmentally benign way but also travelling by your own physical efforts setting sails, hoisting and lowering ships boats all helps connect you with the local community - who have a tough living dictated by the sea and the elements. By working together a ships crew (professionals and guests of many nationalities) soon becomes a close knit group more akin to an expedition than an Arctic Cruise.
More isolated than the Antarctic Peninsula ?
The current Admiralty Arctic Pilot Book says that the 400 mile indented, fjord coastline of East Greenland has only two principal settlements Tasiilaq and Scorseby Sund. This rather dry publication has maps showing the extent of sea ice, which has been known to cut off Scorseby Sound - even in Summer. It explains why you are unlikely to be sharing your anchorages with even the most intrepid yacht or expedition ship, and without aircraft flights to Scorseby Sound and a tough Icelandic Schooner taking the trouble to base herself here for 4 short weeks the local Inuit would be unlikely to meet you.
"there are still great stretches of coast which have never yet been approached by a surface vessel and our knowledge of them has been obtained in boats or native craft along the partially ice free zone between the land and sea ice, by air reconaissance, or by means of sledging journeys over the ice fringing the land." Admiralty Arctic Pilot Book 2012
Fly to Greenland to Join Schooner Hildur
Our Icelandic partners are Authorised Icelandic Tour Operators who will sell you the return flight from Reykjavik to Constable Point Greenland as part of your booking reservation when you book via Classic Sailing. This means you don't have to spend days sailing North to reach Greenland. You can start your 7 days in the heart of East Greenland, exploring the remote and magnificent nature of Scoresby Sound Fjord which extends 350 km inland.
The flight to Iceland from your home country is not included, but from the UK there are several budget airline options
Experienced Arctic Guide on Board
On schooner Hildur there will be an experienced Arctic guide on board who enhance your voyage. They will be able to tell you more about the wildlife, local culture and some of the techical aspects of navigating and sailing in Greenland.
The Inuit of Arctic East Greenland
The Greenlandic Innuit share a common language and culture with those in Canada and Alaska, and the ancestors of the present day Greenlanders have inhabited the country for 4000-5000 years. Whilst the West Coast of Greenland is relatively populated, the East Coast far less so. The community here represents one of the oldest and most isolated in Europe, seperated from their countrymen on the West Coast by vast high ice cap. A wide belt of sea ice grips the whole coast for most of the year, and until commericial flights arrived the East Coast was cut off from the rest of the world. The consequence is that the East coast dialect is unique and there are many individual traditions and handicrafts. Primary occupations are still hunting and fishing, sometimes by traditional kayak.
A Flavour of the Week - Not an Itinerary !
Anyone familiar to Classic Sailing will know that we try and create action packed holidays on every voyage with sailing and skills to learn, memorable meals, walking ashore, learning about wildlife and cultures but you will rarely pin us down to an itinerary as we are all sailors and flexible by nature. The Greenland High in summer can give stable, sunny days with very little wind but crystal clear skies and a full range of mountain panoramas .....but you are next to the second biggest icecap in the world so if the weather does change, then you can have a different kind of polar experience....or some thrilling sailing.
The itinerary may be subject to change for reasons beyond our control, such as changes in airline schedules, flight and ship delays, strikes, weather, sea and ice conditions, government restrictions or emergencies which can be beyond our control. If pack-ice conditions do not permit the planned itinerary to be completed, the captain and expedition leaders will work out the best possible alternative. We reserve the right to change or alter the programme if necessary.
Day 1 (Saturday)
Depart Reykjavík for Constable Point, a small airfield on the west side of Hurry Fjord in Jameson Land. Embark and sail west between magnificent icebergs that drift down the Hall Basin after calving from the glaciers originating in the Inland Ice. Anchor at Hekla Havn, on Denmark Ø, the site of an old Inuit settlement and wintering camp of the first scientific expedition to Scoresby Sound over a hundred years ago.
Day 2 (Sunday)
Short walk to explore Hekla Havn and its surroundings. Sail west to Ankervig through the narrow Føhnfjord with the magnificent basalt mountains of Gåseland on the port side and 2000 metres high sheer granite cliffs of Milne Land on the Starboard side. When we approach the Red Island (Rode O) we turn into the Ankervig Bay where we anchor. 1-2 hours easy walk.
Day 3 (Monday)
Climbing a ridge above Ankervig leads to view over colourful rhyolite mountains and gives a fantastic view over to the various mountains and peaks, volcanic on one side and granite on the other. Those who want a more relaxed morning can either stay at the shore or trek the Hjørnedal, a steep valley penetrating into Gåseland from Ankervig. This area, with some of the lushest vegetation of the whole eastern coast line, has a warm stable climate throughout the summer. Local hunters come here to catch Arctic char and Muskox. After a refreshing morning walk, sail north through Rødefjord with red volcanic mountains on the south side of the fjord. Late afternoon arrival to Harefjord where we
anchor. 3- 4 hours walk. Bonfire and BBQ at the rocky beach.
Day 4 (Tuesday)
We spend the day ashore in Harefjord scouting for Muskoxen, snow hares, grouse, geese and other wildlife which normally graze on the south facing slopes. Then an easy hike to the top of the ridge between Harefjord and Rypefjord for a breathtaking view of Renland and the Inland Ice with endless number of glacier tongues descending into the sea. Up to 6 hours of easy walking (those who prefer less exercise can stroll at the coast or stay onboard enjoying the view).
Day 5 (Wednesday)
Continue sailing, now eastwards through the awsome Øfjord. This is one of the most spectacular part of the trip. Terrific mountain peaks and granite walls tower 200 meters up from the sea just like if the Cerro Torre (one of the majestic mountains of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field in South America) and Fitzroy river (in Queensland, Australia) had been moved to the Arctic! A true feast for the eye. Arrival to Bjørneøe in late afternoon to anchor at Jyttes Havn.
Day 6 (Thursday)
After a relatively short visit on shore in Bjørneøer, departing early morning for the crossing of Hall Basin to Ittoqqortoormiit Village.
Day 7 (Friday)
Visit the small village of Ittoqqortoormiit, founded in the 1925s by people from Ammassalik. It is the most northerly settlement on the east coast of Greenland. The 500 inhabitants make their living mostly by subsistence hunting of seals, Narwhale, Muskoxen and Polar Bear. The quaint little houses dot the rocky slopes of south Liverpool Land with magnificent views of Kap Brewster and the Volquart Boons Coast to the south. Opportunity to visit the village‘s general store to purchase some local handicrafts of bone, soap stone and hides.
Day 8 (Saturday)
Sail to Constable Point, disembark for the return flight to Reykjavík, Iceland.
Greenland climate & winds
You can expect temperatures between 2 and 12 degree Celsius, but the area is also known for having very little rain. It can be windy but on clear days and no wind, the sun can be very strong! Due to the long lasting high pressure over Greenland, the weather is usually very still.
The prospect of seasickness is very unlikely on these voyages as you are sailing within narrow fjords and the seas are calm with no swell. If you are someone who wants strong wind sailing and polar landscapes then be aware that both Greenland and Spitsbergen in summer can have long periods with light winds or calm. For dramatic seas and exhillerating sailing then our 21 day Antarctic voyages on Europa may be more suitable. We will however set sail whenever possible and the crew will gladly and proudly educate you about Hildur as a sailing ship.
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