Paddling again in Upernavik July 19 through 21 2011

Gail Ferris


7 19 11 Sean O’Murray drove me to Newark Airport the SAS terminal where I caught the SAS flight to Copenhagen.  We had a nice chat all the way.  It was very hot and humid late July day.

Now that I know better I wish I had flown Air Iceland to Reykjavik and from there to Jachobshavn Greenland.

Every detail to packing and assembly finally was finished.

In preparation for this trip I needed new electronic equipment.

I had bought a new Garmin GPS model 76CSX with the map for west Greenland coast so that I would really know where I am.  The Garmin was not expensive but the map was over $300.00.

I bought a Sony SR68 video camera which is much smaller but has a larger storage capacity.

I bought an AT&T iPhone and AT&T international roaming capability so that I could call back to the US from anywhere in the world, specifically from Greenland and Denmark.  This phone was very expensive but in this case necessary so that I would be able to contact my brother and sister in the US.

7 20 2011 My flight arrived at CPK on time because the pilot was kind enough to make up lost time waiting on the runway at Newark as we flew over the Atlantic.

I did not realize that I happened to have only allowed an hour and a half between connecting flight to Greenland which was not enough.  I just barely made the flight to Søndrestrøm being the last person boarding.

At Søndrestrøm / Kangerlussuaq airport they had improved the signs so that the now there was a sign over the local boarding gate that told what flight was boarding at the moment.  That was a long way from the old days when there was none and there was only a garbled announcement.

I took my time at the airport looking at the latest tupilaks and other souvenirs representative of Greenland.


The flight to Jachobshavn Ilulissat was uneventful but there was much more ice all over the area from the active glacier.  This I expected as the Arctic is much more severely affected by Global Warming.

The flight up to Upernavik was through clouds and I happened to sit next to a lady from Upernavik who was having a good time as I resorted to hand language to let her know what was on my mind.

At the last few minutes were we able to see anything.  We saw the cliffs of Sanderson’s and some of town.

Our touch down was really difficult the airplane and circled out far and wide before making the north end of the runway amid really nasty downdraft from the mountain.  We pitched violently down on the right side and in a moment leveled out to slam down on the runway

Inside the airport I heard the pilot a fellow in his 50’s say to the copilot that the mountain was generating its typical severe downdrafts in this storm situation.

The winds were so gusty it was hard to walk from the airplane to the airport.

The wind was reported at the airport to be blowing 27 knots but I bet the gusts were more that that.


2011 07 20 1345 (1545)532  7/20 (15:45)

storm upon arrival at Upernavik airport winds 27 knots gusting higher note the broken clouds as scud above

2011 07 20 1345 (1545)533

Sandersons Hope shrouded in cloud this mountain is the source of downdraft for this airport.


2011 07 20 1346 (1546)534

looking at Upernavik icefjord and toward Aappilattoq to the east


My Long Haul Mark 1 folding kayak assembled perfectly in the bright sunlight after I was able to discover that the first and second ribs were mislabeled such that the numbers faced the wrong way from the angled cuts for the orientation to the floorboards and stringers.  After having had such a difficult time inserting the stringers into the C fittings before I left for home in 2009 I reamed the C fittings on the ribs.  Unfortunately now they are just a little bit too large so the stringers would not stay in the fittings. 

This time as I was assembling the frame I wanted these stringers to stay in these fittings.

I wanted be able to paddle this kayak with its true lines of the boat as designed while I was on the water.

Necessity is the mother of invention.  I knew that there was lots of nylon long line lying about on the ground in this area because everyone used their boats to fish with long lines.

With no trouble I resorted to finding conveniently thin pieces of nylon long line and tying each at each rib the stringers into the C fittings.  This is the first time I have ever had all stringers positioned in the C fittings in this kayak. 

Now I had both bow and stern section of the frame complete with ribs assembled. 


Next was the tricky deal of inserting these halves of the frame into the skin as far and as straight as possible. 

Now for the really difficult move, getting the floorboards and side boards to click together with their delicate fold over fittings that must fit just perfectly to stay flattened out.  These fittings are under great tension and have a way of popping violently back apart right up into my face and into the middle of the cockpit tangling with each other in an instant making a tensioned mess.

It is a nasty dangerous move making these fittings to fit just right and stay that way.  To get these floorboards and sideboards to click into place I resorted to the old trick Dieter Stiller of Klepper suggested to me, which was to elevate the stern.

Next I resorted to Dieter Stiller’s Klepper assembly method of elevating either the bow or the stern about six inches.

I carefully aligned the hull straight and level, then I found just the right diameter cylinder which was drybag filled with soft clothing bag to prop the stern up.

I am only too glad to find that this propping up trick worked just fine and the boards clicked together and they stayed.  How awful it is to have these joints popping back up and apart.


Next was the trick of getting the cockpit ribs in.  Wow was I glad as I found that the metal fittings on the ribs fit just right onto the floorboards and into the sideboards I was able to slide the flats into the slots and clip the holes with the hook clip. 

Then I installed the cockpit lip and worked on installing the foot pedals.  Luckily I had left a marker on which hole on the rudder cable chain it had to be exactly at 2.5 links.

I was able to get the bayonet fittings to fit through what had to be perfectly aligned holes of the floorboard and foot pedal bracket so the foot pedals were perfectly in place.  Next was positioning the rudder assembly on stern and running the cables from the tee fitting on the rudder across the stern deck through the holes in the back piece and hooking the chains onto the clips on the rudder pedals.


I tied the rudder lines within the cockpit off to the sides in my sitting area rather than having a straight run so that I would not become entrapped by them when I am exiting the cockpit. 

The cockpit rim has to have the deck fit into the slot along the cockpit rim and this is a project requiring some planning like elevating the stern slightly to relieve the stretch on the deck.  The lip of the deck has to be pulled up on the inside of the cockpit coaming and to be pushed into the rim slot along the full length to form a solid attachment.  Luckily the vinyl fabric edge was flexible because it was a warm day.  Any vinyl fitting is very difficult to manipulate on a cold day.

The most difficult area is where the center rib clips onto the cockpit coaming and I never quite resolved this question about the installation of this expedition sprayskirt.  This outer spray skirt was not an easy job either because it has to be tucked under the cockpit lip.  Getting this part of the sprayskirt to fit properly takes some planning.


Now it was time to make some equipment decisions.  I felt the weight of my old tent a floorless no mosquito netting Megamid and traded it in for my yet untried Eureka Woodsman #1.  This tent was easily a third the weight with fully usable space with a floor, mosquito netting zipper entrance and separate mosquito netting protected opening along the long dimension of the elliptical cross sectioned free standing tent complete with rainfly.

While packing to take off from town I found my old stock of matches and a lighter from 2009.  This time I remembered to take them incase I might want to light a fire.


I figured I had better get out of town after sleeping here for another night 8 21 to 8 22