It was a misty mystery journey over two days aboard the coastal vessel Taterak**, from Narssarssuaq to Nanortalik, with an overnight stop at Qaqortoq (then called Julianehaab). This was the first sailing of the 1971 season – previous attempts had been defeated by the density of the summer pack ice. Small settlements would emerge out of the sea mist as our transport nuzzled its way towards a quay through the pack ice. Fish drying racks, large aerial masts and coloured timber dwellings characterised the settlements. At times, the mist would retreat and we were gifted dramatic views in all directions – superb seascapes or glimpses of remote coastal settlements against a background of magnificent mountains.
We spent much time on deck donned in our cosy mountaineering jackets, even when there was little to see apart from the mist. Checking my diary provided an explanation – “I am in one of the many rooms aboard the Taterak; the engines have just been reduced in power. It creates an impending feeling – sooner or later, before we accelerate to full power again, it is inevitable that we will charge into another ice floe, which will probably not give an inch. I don’t think we are moving now although we are at full revs. Boom! There goes another ice floe.” Far better to be above decks, seeing what was going on and not missing any new vistas. And so we progressed, very slowly at times, taking in the sights and sounds of the journey.
Also aboard was a school party, returning to Nanortalik from a summer camp at Brattahlid. Where are they now? What became of them? Part of the generation to witness the transformation of life in Nanortalik, where once, not that long ago, visitors other than Danish workers, were an unusual sight. We finally reached Nanortalik at 2100h on June 25th 1971.
RAS ** In 2016, operating as the Kisaq out of Nuuk