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Summer Arctic Sailing in East Greenland

The whole East Greenland coast is cut off by sea ice for much or the year, but in the Artic summer the ice breaks up and there are a vast number of glacier carved fjords that can be explored. The Inuit settlements are sparse so you need a self sufficient expedition ship to navigate the wilderness. At latitude 70 degrees North lies an extensive fjord system known as Scoresby Sound, with the tiny village of Ittoqqortoormiit at the head of 350km of spectacular cruising ground.  Mountain ranges, tundra vegetation and flowers, distant views of the Greenland Icecap and huge glaciers carve the landscape. Classic Sailing uses Iceland as a stepping stone to reach this land of midnight sun, polar bears and walrus. 

Sailing Expeditions in West Greenland & North West Passage

West Greenland is more familiar to adventure tourism than the almost uninhabited East Coast.  It also has a longer history of human settlement, nomadic hunting, exploitation of rich resources and polar exploration. West Greenland has long been the gateway to attempts to find a North West Passage through the Canadian Arctic islands to the Pacific. Tall ship Tecla will be the first in Classic Sailing fleet to attempt this tortuous sea route in 2019 with charter crew.

The West Coast of Greenland has a warm current sweeping Northwards and keeping part of the coast ice free, even in winter.  The Vikings discovered the West Coast was more habitable than the East Coast which is totally ice bound for most of the year. The majority of Greenland’s tiny population live here. As a sailing ground there are still a lot of icebergs and broken pack ice to dodge near Cape Farewell and also around Disko Bay where you can marvel at icebergs that have calved off the many glaciers. The walking amongst the mountains and glaciers here is awesome.

If you don’t have 49 days for this epic adventure then you can still learn about Inuit Culture, European exploration, whaling and the seal trade and the search for a North West Passage whilst on a shorter West Greenland Expedition. Tecla has a great ship’s Library and there are several museums in Nuuk.

sailing in greenland

Sense of History – In the wake of the Polar Explorers

Tecla’s skippers have  genuine interest in all things Arctic and the history of exploration in these parts. Debbie in the Classic Sailing office has sailed on Tecla in places like Faroes, and Iceland and also sailed in East Greenland and we feel the programme they have created, includes some of the best sailing destinations and will give you a real taste of wild landscapes. It is also interesting to ponder on how various cultures have survived these harsh but beautiful lands from the Vikings to the Inuit and European explorers, Whalers, and fur traders.

The greatest story of all was the hunt for a navigable passage from to China. The most famous was the Franklin Expedition and two ships and crews which simply disappeared. Many more perished trying to find them. Unsung heroes like Dr John Rae spent years mapping the Canadian Arctic and learning from the Inuit how to over winter without scurvy. The Royal Navy and the Hudson Bay trading Company spent huge resources on exploring and mapping the whole region. The Russians explored from the Pacific end. The Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen finally succeeded in sailing the entire North West Passage on a gaff cutter called Gjoa between 1903-1906.

Sailing in East Greenland