Midsummer Day in Nuuk

Orkney fishermen waving at us as we pass them, the harbour master of Greenland’s main commercial port is waiting until close to midnight to welcome a yacht? Is the world changing, or is it just that in such remote places people still behave as everyone used to … once upon a time.

Nuuk Harbour

In spite of a spell of strong contrary winds, we managed to arrive in Nuuk late last night. I had called the harbour master on my satellite phone earlier to say that we may not get in before midnight, and he replied that it was no problem, and that he’d wait. When we entered the outer harbour and called him on VHF radio, he replied immediately, told us where to tie up and met us on the dock to take our lines. What is going on in the world? Orkney fishermen waving at us as we pass them, the harbour master of Greenland’s main commercial port is waiting until close to midnight to welcome a yacht? Is the world changing, or is it just that in such remote places people still behave as everyone used to … once upon a time.

The harbour master told us to enjoy the weekend as today was not only midsummer day but also Greenland’s national holiday. So our timing could not have been better as late this morning we walked into the town, spread out into the countryside as is often the case with any smallish town where space is not an issue. And that is certainly not the case here, on the world’s largest island with a population of only about 56,000 people. A quarter of them live here in the capital, and all seemed to be out on this brilliant sunny and warm day to celebrate their national day. The great majority are Kalaallit (related to the Inuit) and the official name of Greenland is Kalaallit Nunat. The language is Kalaallisut, a polysynthetic language characterised by long compound words, thus a computer is qarasasiaq (artificial brain), while naatsiliat (potato) means something that needs a long wait to grow.

At the crowded cultural centre couples were swirling about in a vivacious dance, many of the ladies wearing the attractive national dress with a wide colourful cape made of beads, while the men wore plain white.

In a wide field, next to a large school complex set against a stupendous backdrop, a local band was entertaining a younger crowd with modern music.

We could not have picked a better place to make our preparations for the continuation of our voyage, so we shall spend some time here. As Ivan can only spend a few more days with us, we shall go first on a cruise of the surrounding fjords on which I shall report about around the middle of next week.