Ease into civilization

Ease into civilization

A week ago Aurora left from Nigertuluk fjord in East Greenland. I woke up early in the morning to grinding noise next to my ear, outside the hull. Strong wind had driven ice into our anchorage overnight, and a large growler was sitting snugly at level of my bunk. Little pieces of ice were cheerily scattered around, and big icebergs were heading our way too. It was time to lift the kayaks and paddleboards onboard, tie everything down and leave swiftly.

Gusts and northern lights

We moved across the fjord in sunshine, and now in clear weather I could see the fresh snow decorating all hilltops around us. It was exactly like a groundhog day from last year: snow on hills and ice shooing us away from the anchorage. A short stop later, Aurora’s bow was pointed towards mouth of the fjord and Iceland. The swell of the fjord changed into swell of open ocean, and we were on our way home again.

We crossed Denmark Strait in about two days, sometimes in light winds and sometimes in violent gusts of wind. One clear night magnificent northern lights stretched from horizon to horizon, with almost full moon and the stars dotting the black sky above us.

This year the Denmark Strait was clear of ice during our crossing – we didn’t see any icebergs or growlers. The weather worsened towards Iceland, and the last night of the journey was spent sailing triple-reefed and under storm staysail. The wind got stronger in Westfjords, and finally we dropped the sails near Isafjordur and motored into stiff 50-knot gusts. We made it to the dock before the storm started in earnest.

Return blues

Five days later I find myself typing this blog post from a greenhouse in Hampshire, UK. It is hot, oppressive weather, and there is thunder in the air. It is odd to be in +25 Cº temperatures after crisp +3 Cº of Tasiilaq in East Greenland. Hot showers have been delightful (running hot water!), washing machine is working overtime and high-speed Internet is splitting my attention to fragments. I had to retire to the greenhouse and switch offline, to set boundaries and manage unnecessary impulses of aimless browsing.

Despite of liking trees (birches especially have a great sense of humour), I miss the openness of Greenlandic landscape, jagged mountains and alpine vegetation. Arctic has tremendous charm in treeless, panoramic landscapes, where you have to look up to see massive structures and kneel to see the tiniest vegetation.

Seasons highlights

This season in Greenland has been spectacular. First onboard Snow Dragon II in West Greenland: thank you to Frances and Krystina, who are still on the way to Nova Scotia, from where we started together in May. Sailing through Disko Bay’s incredible icebergs was a wonderful experience. My iceberg photo collection quadrupled onboard Snow Dragon II – thank you for the patience! (Just one more photo from this angle…)

Late in July I joined Aurora for their East Greenland expeditions into known and unknown places. My warmest thank you to captain Siggi, Teresa, Haukur and all guests and friends along the way for the great season. Six polar bear sightings, new anchorages and diversity of fish dishes were absolutely mind-boggling this year. My happiest moment of the whole summer was on the beach of Auroras first anchorage, picking up polar bear hairs from sand. The beast had been rolling on it and left a whole bunch of hairs to the ground. Who would have known that polar bears have split ends too!

Photos from Aurora’s East Greenland trip can be seen on their Facebook page.


This short space between outdoor work projects will be extremely busy. There are many art projects to do, including preparations for a photo exhibition and other artwork based on this summers adventures in Canada, West and East Greenland.

Tune into my Twitter and Instagram feeds for updates and sneak previews.

About Riikka

Riikka Puustinen is a freelance sailor with digital media education and long international career in UX design and project management. Fond of sun, snow, sled dogs, icebergs, mountains and creative thinking. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in the UK.