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Sisimiut: Muskox Burgers, a Polar Plunge, and the Aurora

Updated: May 26, 2020

The Northwest Passage Day 16

Sisimiut is the second-largest city in Greenland, after Nuuk. Although it is seventy-five kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, warm currents keep it ice free year-round. As a result, it has a pier, so our ship was able to dock. It was the first dock we’ve seen on the entire trip. It was a new experience to walk off the ship onto paved streets.

“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.”  Frank Herbert

A local took us on a walking tour of the town and the local museum, after which we were left on our own. Like most of towns in Greenland, the houses were painted bright colors. In the past, these colors indicated what went on inside—store, hospital, school, and so on. Now I think the people are carrying on the colorful painting as a tradition.

This town actually had restaurants and hotels and businesses! We opted to forego the ship food, as we got a tip on a restaurant that serves muskox burgers. Yum! Back on board, we learned the town gave us permission to jump in their bay. This would be the last opportunity for a polar plunge north of the Arctic Circle. Would I have the nerve? While I was working up the nerve, a local gave a kayaking demonstration in which he continuously rolled his kayak for at least 30 minutes. He didn’t freeze, so I was encouraged that I could survice a 10 second plunge.

The polar plunge was well organized. We were to assemble in the Nautilus lounge dressed in our swimsuits and a robe. Only those commiting to plunge were allowed. We got leis, party horns, and other festive paraphenelia and then learned the polar plunge chant. When we were sufficiently pumped up, we paraded through the ship to the mudroom and then the door to the ocean.

We proceeded one-by-one. First, we were given a life belt. If something happened, like dying from heart failure, the crew could drag us in. When it was my turn to plunge, I put on the belt, jumped, then immediately sprang to the ladder and came out. The crew was ready with a towel and a shot of vodka, which I tossed. Yes, it was cold, but invigorating. Later, we each received a polar plunge patch and were treated to a chocolate extravaganza after dinner. As you can see from the photo, not everyone participated.

After 16 days above the Arctic Circle, conditions were finally favorable for us to see the northern lights. (Photo by Glen Gould.)

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