Thick fog and dense pack ice did their best to thwart both our spirits and our progress towards our goal of finding East Greenland. Undaunted, we pressed on, albeit at reduced speed.
The ice we were battling was coming from the north – dense, heavy sea ice, most of it created over multiple winters. It makes a decent platform for polar bears to hunt seals from, but it makes ship travel very challenging. Finally, just ten miles from the coast, we had to surrender to the pack. From the bridge, Captain Graser declared, “This is the end of the road; we can’t get any closer to land here.” We could barely see 200 yards in front of the ship, but most decided to come out and view the ice. As the captain was finalizing a new route to the south and preparing to turn around, a guest on deck said, “I see a polar bear!” Indeed, on a chunk of ice directly in front of the ship stood a bear visible through the fog. We had about ten minutes to watch and grab some photos before she disappeared into the mist. What amazing luck to discover a polar bear in this place and in these conditions!
Before dinner, we finally got our first views of Greenland as we approached Jacobsen Fjord. The fjord was still filled with fast ice and had dozens of seals hauled out. Ring seals and harp seals were positively identified, with some strong suspicions of hooded seals and perhaps a bearded seal or two. This had our hopes up for more bears, but none appeared.
It felt like a battle to get to see Greenland, but it was all worth it.