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Fog THUMB

This post has been long underway. We just needed to get to the other side of this rather unpleasant experience. Here, more than a month after coming back, things have settled and we can write about the trip.

We were actually supposed to have this trip in May but because of many challenges with especially the shipyard, this was not possible. We sailed Porsild to the shipyard in Aasiaat already in October last year and with us we had a list of things that needed to be fixed over the winter. Unfortunately, the shipyard failed once again, making one excuse after the other and only recently (June) did we get Porsild back. There has been many excuses and possible explanation but nothing can excuse such a bad handling and extensive delay!

But, finally was it possible to do this years first trip around Disko island. Martin has been waiting long for this trip, in-patiently, as it is an important part of the monitoring program. It is quite important that these trips are taken the same time every year - but unfortunately this was not possible this year. We settled in on Porsild really well and felt like a nice trip was waiting for us. The first day, the weather was really nice. Disko island was covered in dense fog but the ocean was calm and spirits were high. We quickly finished the first collecting stations and then reached the highlight of the day when we visited a small bird colony. Quietly we sailed to the small rocky island with our dinghy. When we approached hundreds of gull took air, yelling at us as they circulated the island. We managed to find a spot to go on land and on the sticky covered rocks. Gently we moved around - watching small neat nests. Some filled with beautiful blue eggs and others with cute small fluffy chicks. The majority of the island was taken by gulls but in one end there was a small cormorant colony. here another kind of cuteness prevailed. Their nests were neatly build on tall towers of bird poop and twigs. It was clear that the cormorant dropping was toxic as no living thing could be seen on the ground here. Cormorant chicks is very different from gull chicks. The can best e described as small naked dragons lying in their nests all black with long necks. But they were still very fascinating to see. We did not stay long as we did not want to disturb to much. The adult birds should also quickly return to take care of nests and chicks and so they did when we slowly sailed away from the island again. That night we laid for anchor in Nordfjord, visiting an old hunters house before going to bed.

Chick THUMB

The following days were actually pretty boring. Even though the ocean was calm and nice, everything was covered in dense fog and we could not see anything. We just sailed, using our instruments and taking the samples needed but everything was good and cosy on board.

On the third day, we decided to stop in the larger town of Ilulissat to do some grocery shopping and eating out on a restaurant. We arrived in the afternoon and arranged an early departure the next day at 03:00. This way we could finish the last stations and our Captain would make it in time home for his grandchild to be baptised. We are not that keen on these kind of early morning but on the contrary we wanted to help. Martin also made it very clear that this meant no alcohol or parties in town due to the early start with dense fog and an ocean packed with icebergs. Everyone agreed clearly to this and we went into town. We had some nice thai food and then went early to bed. At around 22:00 an alarm on Porsild woke us up. The constant and very loud "biiping" meant that we of course could not get any more sleep. We tried to call the captain but no reply. In the end we managed to get one of the sailor on the phone instead. He sounded a bit drunk but promised to come by and help with the alarm. After 45 minutes of waiting and no one showing up we tried to call him again. This time he sounded even more drunk and it was impossible to communicate with him. Thus, all we could do was to go into town and find them. This proofed easy as they were quickly found on the local bar, Naleraq. Here, Martin found the captain and tried to talk to him about the alarm and the agreement. It was now 01:00 in the night and they still aimed at sailing at 03:00! However, this was not accepted by Martin - sailing in fog and icebergs in their condition was just not an option. Instead he tried to arrange for us to leave at 07:00 instead if they then came back to the ship now and also helped with the alarm. This only made the captain very angry, saying the are off duty and free to do what they want - otherwise we could just find another captain. This was all very unpleasant and we ended up going back to the ship to collect our stuff and go to a hotel to get some sleep - writing the crew we will meet at 09:00 on the ship instead. Next day at 09:00 we meet with the crew and kind of expected an apology or some kind of regret from their side. But quite opposite they acted really hostile and repeatedly mentioned that we could just find another captain if we were unsatisfied. The captain was also under the impression that he had no choice but to follow the sailors in their drinking!?! They all look very tired and clearly still not sober. This meeting was very unpleasant and all things considered, we decide to take the first commercial ferry home. We did not want to sail through foggy waters filled with icebergs with this crew. Instead the crew needed to stay in Ilulissat and await the next decision. However, this was not to their likings and quickly thereafter we saw them sailing home. A really sad ending for an otherwise nice trip.

The following days back at Arctic Station should also turn out to be rather unpleasant. Especially for Martin as I tried to stay away from it all. Meetings were arranged which also included the station manager who is in charge of the crew and employments. Martin came home from one of these meetings very choked. Apparently the station manager had been backing up the crew and blaming us for all the trouble. On top of that they all were now blaming us for lying about the alarm on board Porsild - saying there never was any alarm. The captain even left after 10 minutes saying he only wanted to talk about positive things. In all this, all the support Martin could gain was over the phone with the chairman sitting back in Denmark. There was of course more meetings also including the chairman and we quickly learned that paradox of the station manager and the crew being very good friends - hence the station manager was not able to act properly. Further, the captain is an important person in town and therefore it is not good to go against him apparently. We were deeply choked about this whole arrangement and how quickly everything could turn against us.

Things settled some and after a few days the captain finally gave an apology. However, this experience really put things in perspective and was a very sad ending. We felt really disappointed about the people we had been working with for years.

After this, July has just been very busy and taking the focus away from the trip. Now we just need to try and get the best out of the last period before moving back to Denmark.

/ B