Scoresby Sund and Ittoqqortoormitt 16/08/14
Overnight and this morning the ship sailed further down the east coast of Greenland and entered Scoresby Sund, the largest fjord system in the world covering about 38,000 sq kilometers and whose arms at times extend about 350 kilometres inland from the coast.
We will be visiting the Innuit village of Ittoqqortoormitt a hunting community perched at the edge of the fjord and numbering about 450 people. They town's dock is not large enough to accommodate our ship so we will have a wet landing on zodiacs to the shoreline in front of the town.
A very pretty little community, small wooden houses brightly painted in blues, greens and reds perched on the edge of the fjord and at the foot of the ever-present snow-capped mountains. We are a rare sight for the inhabitants since the town is supplied by only 2 supply ships a year, one in June at the beginning of the short summer and one in September at the beginning of winter. Apart from that 2 or 3 small expedition ships, much like ours, stop off over the summer and sometimes leave them some food supplies. Everything that a town needs, from food to furniture and from fuel to vehicles to clothing and appliances comes in on these two supply boats and when something runs out they do without it until the next boat.
The fjord is frozen over for 9 months of the year and they receive about 7 metres of snow a winter so no vegetables or fresh produce can be grown and their hunting is for food, not for commerce or export. Their major catches are seals, the occasional walrus, polar bears and musk ox all of which are eaten. They used to tan and export the skins of the animals that they killed which helped bring money into the community but because of the reluctance of fashion to use fur the pelts of all the animals they shoot for food are now thrown away and the tanning and export trade is no more. A shame and not responsive to simple solutions.
There is virtually no topsoil in the area, simply the rocky terrain on top of which the houses are built. The cemetery digs out a number of graves in summer with heavy machinery while they are able to do so and these are used during the winter by the community since it would be impossible to do this work in the winter. They also import the soil they need in winter to fill in the graves and for the portion of the funeral when the priest reads the 'ashes to ashes and dust to dust' portion of the service, so that the priest and the family will actually have some dirt to throw on the coffin.
An interesting walk through town and a chance to chat with a number of people who spoke English.