Tide and currents

The southernmost fjords have a warm tongue of the Irminger Current (Gulf Stream) flow by. Local effects and concerns are few, though in general the Irminger moves in a NW direction, up the West Coast.

One major effect of the warm current in the far south, is the abundance of seals and whales when paddling outside the fjords. This also means that you will find more remains of Inuit settlements on headlands and islands, together with graves and fire places (sometimes with ancient fire wood underneath, ready for the next hunter who comes along). Not to forget norse farm ruins!

Bearded seals are very curious and allow you to come close up

The East Coast on the other hand is enclosed by the cold East Greenland Current, which carries pack ice and ice bergs down and around around Kap Farvel. Over 90% of ice bergs in the northern hemisphere take this route; the ice berg that sank the Titanic came this way and paddlers that visit the East Coast and Kap Farvel region can still see the monster ice bergs that drift this way – a sight worth seeing.

View Currents along South and East Greenland in a larger map

Tide & currents
Not much is published about coastal currents on the East Coast from a paddler’s point of view. However, ocean researchers in Iceland have told me that the average drift in the East Coast Current is about half a knot a little off shore.

Eddies along the coast are frequent outside fjords and headlands. I have taken advantage of them, and expeditions in the past such as Fridtjof Nansen’s ice cap crossing in 1888, when they rowed north along the shore after drifting south in the ice for most of the summer, must have done the same.

Tidal range is about 5-6 metres in most outlaying areas of both regions, often less inside the fjords, with 4 regular tides in about 24 hours.

Resources –

Also check the Admiralty’s Arctic Pilot - especially if you are a BCU paddler…

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