All of these notes have been offered to the Royal Cruising Club of Great Britain (www.rcc.uk.org) and some have been incorporated into the guide to Faeroes, Iceland and Greenland. Not all of them have been used, so I am publishing them now for anyone who might be interested.
The following notes and chartlets were compiled in the summers of 2004 and 2005 by Trevor and myself, aboard Iron Bark. We were in Greenland with the intention of overwintering on the ice and having located a suitable site, spent a considerable amount of the remaining time cruising around and charting local waters. This is a particularly satisfying and potentially useful activity, because the largest scale charts (with the exception of a few harbour plans) are at 1:40,000 and generally innocent of soundings, apart from one or two surveyed routes between settlements.
If you want to cruise in Greenland, it’s almost mandatory to have on board a copy of the Royal Cruising Club’s Pilotage Foundation’s publication, Faeroe, Iceland and Greenland. Some of these notes will be used in the next edition, but not all of them. I am putting them on my website in order that they can be in the public domain for anyone who likes as much information as possible before visiting a new cruising ground. I do hope, however, that you will also sail ‘off the chart’ and make notes of anything that you think would be of interest to other small boat sailors. Please send your information either to Willy Ker (editor of FI&G) or to myself via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The first couple of anchorages are in the Vaigat area, E of Qeqertarsuat (Disko Island). The rest are situated between Kangersuatsiaq (Prøven) and Upernavik Island.
This little anchorage lies of Smalle Sund. It is not very easy to identify when the sun is low.
Approach from SW, along the centre of the channel between Oqaitsut and the land SW. When you can identify the passage to the E of the island, close the W shore – there is plenty of water. A rock lies in the middle of the channel, as shown on the sketch chart. Continue to follow the shore round, passing between a small island and the rocky cliff face.
The best place to anchor is in the S end of the bay in about 10m. When visited, this berth was taken by a large bergy bit. A local fishing boat tied up alongside the cliff on the S shore, just S of the small island.
NP 12 4.132
70º04'N 52º22'W (2004)
Chart D 1500
Sketch charts: Atanikerdluk (Iluarâ)
The bay to the E of the Nunguaq spit provides good shelter in a W or NW blow, when traversing the Vaigat. The spit does however, cover at High Water Springs, allowing a surge and small pieces of ice into the anchorage. This is easily identified, being adjacent to a large bluff. If N bound around Nuussuaq, this is a useful anchorage to wait for a favourable breeze.
The entrance is very open and ice, including sizable bergy bits, finds its way in.
The approach is straightforward and there are no dangers if you keep a sensible distance from the shore.
Anchor either N or S side of the bay, according to wind direction, and be prepared to move if the wind shifts.
Although the chart shows the Nunguaq peninsula as above water, when visited it was observed to be breached at high water. This could not only let in any swell, but also brash. A S wind will bring an unpleasant swell into this anchorage causing rollers on the beach, which would make anchoring in suitable depths unwise. However, when the wind is in the N, the swell is very moderate and a lee can be obtained under the sand and shingle spit know as Nunguaq, under the N shore in about 10 m.
When visited, anchorage was found in the N end in order to shelter from a N breeze. The boat swung between wind and tide. Anchoring on a very narrow shelf, the anchor was in 11m while the boat swung into 30m, lying to 50m of chain. When the wind changed and blew parallel with the coast, the boat swung into 6m. Although the anchor came up covered in kelp, the holding appeared to be quite good.
When leaving, with a S wind, a fishing boat was observed anchored at the S end of the bay.
Kangersuatsiaq is an attractive village of 50 or 60 houses, situated above a small, fairly well-sheltered, but crowded harbour. Very little ice appears to find its way into the harbour. The pilot warns that SW swells enter the harbour.
The anchorage for large vessels in the channel between Prøven and Sandøen is 25m deep, rather exposed and unattractive for a yacht. The cove below the village is better protected and has moderate depths, but is encumbered by underwater rocks and small craft moorings. There are underwater rocks 70m SW of the town dock and more rocks off the S shore of the cove. Leading marks, consisting of a pair of painted rocks on Prøvens Ø, lead clear of the rocks off the town dock. A similar set of painted rocks on Sandøen leads into the cove.
The NE part of the cove is entirely occupied by moorings for small open boats and there is no room for a yacht here. The best berth is in the SE part among the fishing boats, just N of underwater rocks in the S of the cove. To secure here, drop the bow anchor among the fishing boat in 8 m, mud and boulders, with a stern line to one of the bollards in the rock face to the E. The holding is dubious and there is no room to swing to a single anchor.
For a very short stay or to take on fuel, it is possible to tie up to the town dock. This is about 4.5m long and has 3.0m alongside. When approaching or leaving the dock, beware of the underwater rocks that lie about 70m to the SW and on a direct course to and from the approach channel.
A floating dinghy dock, usually crowded, is available for landing. There is a well-stocked general store, with a post office next to it. A payphone is situated in the post office. Fuel is available, by jerrican, from a hut situated up the track from the dock. Payment is made in the store. There is no ATM, nor does the store accept credit cards. Alcohol is not for sale in Prøven. Water for the town appears to be ferried in by jerrican and there are no taps in public areas.
Laksefjorden extends from Angmarqua (72º32'N 55º25'W) for 21 miles E into J P Kochs Land. The 14-mile long W section between Angmarqua and the “First Narrows” (72º29.2'N 54º37.5'W), has the grand, forbidding aspect expected of a Greenland fjord. The inner part of Laksefjorden, E of the “First Narrows” is surrounded by lower, comparatively fertile land, intersected by a number of rivers. Bilberries, crowberries and several varieties of edible mushroom abound in summer. In several of the river valleys, willow groves reach a height of 1.5 to 2.0m . Laksefjorden has very little drift ice in the summer.
Salmon are found in a number of the rivers in the inner part of Laksefjorden (which means Salmon Fjord in Danish), most notably near Ekaluarsuit (72º29.9'N 54º27.5'W). In July and August, local fishermen camp nearby in order to net "salmon" (Arctic char). A permit, obtainable in Upernavik, is required to fish for Arctic char and there is a closed season enforced by a fisheries patrol. In August 2004, there was no sign of the reindeer mentioned in the NP12, 5.67.
Ilulialik, a silt-laden river, flows from the icecap into the head of Laksefjorden. Silt from Ilulialik and other rivers has reduced the water depth E of Ekaluarsuit to such an extent that this section is only navigable by a yacht of average draught near high water. The sediment-laden water in the inner part of Laksefjorden is nearly opaque, making pilotage difficult. Rocks covered by as little as 10 cm of water are invisible, even from aloft.
Angmarqua to “First Narrows” (Sketch chart: Nordre Sunds South Sheet)
“First Narrows” to Ekaluarsuit (Sketch chart: Laksefjorden East Part)
An island in the “First Narrows” constricts the entrance to the inner part of Laksefjorden. The navigable channel passes S of this island. Favour the S shore at the “First Narrows” and, once in the pool beyond the narrows, alter course to SE to avoid an underwater rock lying approximately 100m off the N shore. This rock has a minimum depth of 5m and rises abruptly from 70m. Its GPS-derived position is 72º29.126'N 54º35.011'W (Qornoq 1927 datum). Steer ESE to pass between a high, rocky island and a small skerry, almost awash, to the S of the island. There is deep water on both sides of this skerry.
Follow the fjord around to NNE, where an island and several rocks constrict the passage, forming the “Second Narrows”. Pass N of this island, because its S side is foul, and then steer ENE to pass about 200m S of a string of islets and skerries in mid-fjord. A drying rock and several underwater rocks, with less than 3m, extend up to 150m S of these islets.
Once past the islets, Ekaluarsuit opens up to the S. In summer, there will probably be a number of tents here, which belong to fishermen netting salmon. Ekaluarsuit appears free of dangers and a depth of 20m can be carried close to the head of the bay.
If continuing further E along Laksefjorden, steer to pass 50m off the headland on the NE side of Ekaluarsuit to avoid a bank extending from the delta of a river, which flows into the N side of the fjord. This is the first of the silt banks that fill the head of Laksefjorden. These banks restrict navigation by yachts of average draught to 2 or 3 hours either side of high water.
Ekaluarsuit to Orpik (Sketch chart: Laksefjorden East Part)
The sketch chart shows the best channel, but it is probably prudent to anchor and send a dinghy ahead to sound the shallower sections. The bottom is soft mud except in the approaches to the “Third Narrows”, so grounding is unlikely to be serious. In the “Third Narrows” the ebb stream, reinforced by river outflow, may exceed 3 knots. Elsewhere streams are weak.
Akuliaruseq (72º32.9'N 55º04.9'W, Sketch chart: Plans in Nordre Sunds and Laksefjorden)
This is a pleasant, safe anchorage off Laksefjorden on the S shore of Akuliaruseq. Anchorage is in 13m with ample swinging room, but open to the SW. Better shelter can be found further into the bay in 6m, with restricted swinging room but good all-round shelter. The bottom is mud, with scattered boulders and fine filamentous weed, generally good holding. Shorelines could be used.
Ekaluarsuit (72º 29.4'N 54º 28.5'W, Sketch chart: Laksefjorden East Part)
This anchorage is in the inner part of Laksefjorden near the mouth of one of the "salmon" rivers. Fishermen camp around the bay in summer and set nets extending 20 to 30m offshore. The nets are usually marked by white floats and are obvious. The best berth for a yacht is in 13m, near the head of the bay with apparently good holding. There are no dangers in the approach.
Beyond Ekaluarsuit, Laksefjorden is very shallow. In settled weather, it is possible to anchor wherever there is enough depth to float at low water. The tidal range is about 1.6m on springs, 1.0m on neaps. A useful anchorage, if waiting on the tide, is 1/2 M SE of the “Second Narrows” in 9m, mud. This is more protected than it looks because the surroundings are shallow. The tidal stream here is sufficiently strong that a vessel will normally be tide-rode.
Orpik (72º 30.0'N 54º 29.7'W, Sketch chart: Laksefjorden East Part)
Sketch charts: Nordre Sunds N and S Sheets
Nordre Sunds are a series of cross-connected sounds and fjords between Laksefjorden and Upernaviks Isfjord. Nordre Sunds, together with Laksefjorden, form a network of about 100 miles of protected channels with magnificent scenery and many all-weather anchorages. The sounds are nearly ice-free in summer. All the sounds are navigable with care by a yacht, and most are navigable by larger vessels. Chart D1700, the only chart available for most of the area, is of limited use because it lacks any soundings, except in the SW entrance to Angmarqua. The outline of the coast on D1700 appears accurate within the limitations of its scale of 1:400,000, except in the vicinity of Upernaviks Isstrøm where the ice front has retreated 3 to 5 M from its charted position. The sketch charts should help, but as always, need to be used with care.
Sketch charts: Nordre Sunds N and S Sheets
The section of Angmarqua opposite Sáningassoq, between the narrows and the islands, is deep and apparently free from dangers, with no sounding less than 100m recorded in two transits. Near these islands the bottom is irregular, with a least depth of 14m on a rocky shoal close S of the most S island of this group. When proceeding N, leave the first large island to port and the remainder of the group to starboard. Between these islands and the NE end of Nutârmiut, where Angmarqua joins Upernaviks Isfjord, the bottom is irregular, but without any obvious hazards to surface navigation. The least depth encountered in two transits was 27m.
The islands off the NW corner of Sáningassoq, and between Sáningassoq and Uilortussoq, keep drift ice in Upernaviks Isfjord from penetrating S into Nordre Sunds; in August 2004 there was considerable drift ice N of the islands, but very little to the S. Tidal streams are generally stronger N of these islands than to the S.
A bay halfway along the NE side of Nutârmiut (72º50'N 55º01'W) looks as if it might offer shelter, but it is too deep for a yacht to anchor conveniently. In August 2004, it had sufficient drift ice to make the use of shore lines difficult.
Nordre Sunds, North Sheet
Sketch charts: Nordre Sunds N and S Sheets
Cross channels lead W and NW from the N end of “Amarortalik Sound” to “Nako Sound”. Depths are in these cross channels are irregular and the navigable channels are tortuous. However, with care, they present no undue difficulty to a yacht (see sketch charts Nordre Sunds South Sheet and North Nako Anchorages). Tidal currents in these cross channels were strong enough to prevent them freezing over completely in the winter of 2005.
72º43'N 54º43'W (2004)
“Sáningassoq Sound” is the informal name for the 4-M long, N-trending sound, which runs between the E shore of Sáningassoq and the mainland. No depth of less than 55m was encountered in one mid-channel passage through this sound, but the bottom is irregular and shallower water may exist close to the course followed. E-W cross channels connect the N and S ends of “Sáningassoq Sound” to Angmarqua. These channels are narrow and encumbered with above- and below-water rocks but, with care, are navigable by a yacht (see sketch chart Nordre Sunds North Sheet). Tidal currents maintained pools of open water and thin ice in the S cross channel in the winter of 2005.
Uilortussoq to Upernaviks Isstrøm
Upernaviks Isstrøm has retreated between 3 and 5M from the position shown on D1700, greatly increasing the area of the basin between Uilortussoq, Qagserssuaq and the ice front and revealing several islands. The ice cliffs and the jumble of icebergs in the basin near the ice front are impressive.
In June 2005, early in the navigation season, it was possible to reach open water in the ice-front basin, through the channel SE of Uilortussoq. At the same time, access to the ice face via the channels north of Uilortussoq was blocked by a large accumulation of bergs. It is reported that late in most seasons, these jams of ice clear, allowing direct access to the basin from Upernaviks Isfjord.
The approach through the channel SE of Uilortussoq is narrow but deep, free from dangers and in June 2005, contained only a few scattered bergy bits and brash. This was at a time when all other channels were blocked by a large accumulation of tightly packed bergs.
The large amount of ice makes any anchorage between Uilortussoq and Upernaviks Isstrøm insecure. In very quiet weather it might be possible to anchor SE of the small island in position 72º46.5'N 54º22.7'W (Qornoq 1927 datum) with reasonable protection from large ice. In June 2005, the island had a rapidly melting remnant of the icecap, perched on it.
Nordre Sunds Anchorages
NP 12 5.68
Tasiussaq, which means “like a lake”, is a large land-locked bay on the S end of Nutârmiut. The bay is not a good berth for a yacht, despite the glowing testimonial in NP12, 4.68. It is generally too deep for a yacht to anchor conveniently, and large enough to make a leeward berth untenable in strong winds. The surrounding hills are steep and sombre, and suggest they could generate strong downdraughts in bad weather. The narrow bay extending SE from the main bay, where the hills are lower, offers a good berth, but the entrance is too shallow for a yacht of average draught to enter at less than half tide.
The entrance to Tasiussaq is narrow but straightforward. Foul ground extends about 100m NW from a large, low, rounded rock off the S entrance point. The outer end of the foul ground is in the approximate position of the rock shown in the middle of the entrance, on D1710. Enter from the NW, keeping between 60 and 80m off the entrance’s N shore, with a least depth of 10 to 13m. The rock shown on D1710 off the tip of the northern entrance point, is not a danger because it is above water and close to shore.
Inside, the depth increases rapidly and most of the inlet is too deep for a yacht to anchor easily. Three likely berths in the main part of the bay are shown on the sketch chart. Iron Bark investigated them, but without using any of them for more than a brief stay. The best berth for a yacht in the main part of the bay appeared to be in the cove on the E side of the NW arm, in depths from 8 to 12m. A shore line is probably necessary, as there is restricted swinging room. The other two berths are on steeply shelving, rather exposed shores, and are only suitable for use in settled weather.
A cove off the S side of Tasiussaq provides a sheltered berth for a yacht. The entrance is a narrow, shallow, rocky gut about 10m wide and 70m long, with a least depth of about 1.6m at low water and 2.5m at half tide. This is not a place to go aground: the bottom and shores of the gut are boulders and the tide sluices through it at about 3 knots. Sounding from a dinghy is recommended before attempting the passage. Favour the port (NE) side on entry. Once through the narrow section, the depth increases to 50m. There are well-sheltered berths for a yacht in either the E or SE arm of the cove in 10 to 13m. The berth in the SE arm is probably the better of the two. Holding is good but there is no room to swing to a single anchor in either berth, so a stern line ashore is necessary. Tidal currents are weak in either berth. The pool at the head of the SE arm is shoal.
“Nutârmiut SE Bay”
72º36'N 55º24'W (2004)
This un-named bay is separated from Tasiussaq by a 1M wide isthmus but is 12M away by sea.
The surroundings are rather sombre, but the bay is well protected, the entrance straightforward and there is an anchorage with convenient depths for a yacht.
The entrance to the bay is nearly 1/2 M wide, but islets and rocks reduce the navigable channel to approximately 100m. Enter on the W side of the mouth of the bay, leaving all the rocky islets and skerries to starboard along a mid-channel course, between the W headland and the most E islet. Underwater rocks extend a few metres from the W entrance point, leaving a clear channel 50m wide, with a minimum depth of 25m. Once inside the depth increases rapidly to over 150m and there appear to be no dangers apart from a line of rocks and skerries, N of the island in the NE arm of the bay.
The anchorage is behind the high, rocky island in the NE arm of the bay. Approach from the W side of the island, because the E approach is foul. Although the bottom is irregular on this route, it appears to be free from dangers, with a least depth of 7m, found on a mid-channel course. Anchor behind the island, W of the line of rocks and skerries, which extends from the island to the N shore of the cove. There is restricted but adequate swinging room in 12 to 14m, mud and filamentous weed, with scattered boulders. Good holding, at least with a fisherman anchor. Shore lines could be used.
South Nako Anchorage
| 72º37'N 55º04'W |
Chart D 1700
Sketch chart: South Nako Anchorage
South Nako Anchorage from SW
North Nako Anchorage
| 72º40'N 54º58'W (2005) |
Chart D 1700
Sketch chart: North Nako Anchorages
Winter Cove from NW
Two bays indent the NE coast of Nako. The eastern bay is here informally named “East Nako Anchorage” and the western bay “Winter Cove”. Iron Bark, an 11m cutter, wintered in the western bay in 2004-2005. The bays are separated by a half-mile wide isthmus and are 2M apart by sea. Each bay has a safe, well-protected anchorage, but “Winter Cove” is more attractive, has a better watering stream and probably better holding. The pond feeding the watering stream, provided water for Iron Bark throughout the winter. It froze to a maximum depth of about 0.8m with a further 1/2 to 1m of snow cover.
Nako is less mountainous than the adjacent islands and mainland and there are some pleasant walks inland to the scattered lakes and ponds. In summer, these ponds have loons, Canada geese and ducks on them, with ravens, snow buntings, redpoll and longspurs on the hills. Bilberries and crowberries abound and there is a small dwarf willow thicket along the watering stream. A few very old antlers are all that remains of the caribou that formerly grazed here.
There are rocks and foul ground in the approaches to both bays but the dangers are apparent and easily avoided (see sketch chart North Nako Anchorages).Anchorages
“Winter Cove” is tucked behind a low rocky spit on the W side of the bay, about 700m from its N end. Depths within the cove decrease from 15m in the E to 5m in the W. A number of large boulders encumber the bottom but except very close in to the shore none of them has less than 5m over it. The boulders are large, widely scattered and unlikely to foul an anchor. The anchorage is in 7 to 15m, sandy mud, good holding. Shore lines can be used
“East Nako Anchorage” is in the inner part of the E bay behind a small, rocky island. Leave this island to port when approaching the anchorage, as there is a drying rock to W of it. The anchorage is in 12 to 15m, mud, weed and rock.
“Slag Heap Bay”