A glimpse of Greenland

diumbria stood on deck a bit off-shore of Cayenne, after sailing south from the colony to tip of Florida, then west around the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. They passed seeing Veracruz, Merida, Maricaibo, Willemstad; all places that, in one way or another, he’d never even really conceived of. It was true, he knew, that Spain and Portugal, and even the Netherlands, had been colonizing the Caribbean and South America for years now; but the presence of it shocked him, to find European style buildings in so many parts of the new world.

Still, the overall landscape was so wild. Everywhere he ventured in the wilderness, there was this character to it, a sense of what he felt in Africa, but something different. In Africa, he felt that he might possibly understand what lay inland, beyond the coast; here he had no idea. There were rumors in the ports of strange ruins, ancient peoples. He longed to explore, to see them; but each time, it quickly became apparent, that the landscape was so vast, so raw, that one could easily disappear and never return from any bend in the path. He promised himself he would revisit these places, when he could; better prepared, with better ideas and supplies, he would return to see what lay in the unknown beyond.

Later he was back in the colony, which was growing along at a pace he thought was wonderful. As some would see it, there wasn’t much there, to be sure; just a handful of residences and a market building. Incredibly, nearly one hundred and fifty people were now living there, nearly all of them farmers and fishermen living directly off the land. The buildings were spaced widely apart, Europeans making the most of the wide open American spaces. There was little fear of Indian attacks in these times, as those days, though not long gone, were gone none the less. So it was a quiet, peaceful little place, and though he sometimes eyed it with a developer’s dream of a bustling trade port, he also could appreciate it as nearly a vacation destination.

And where to now? After checking through his supplies, he decided that the time had finally come to complete his survey of the Sea of Labrador. After so much time in the sweltering tropics, it was time to return north. Greenland still called, and though it served no practical purpose, he still longed to sail around its entire expanse, just to see if it could be done. So it was, off to Boston, and then to the frigid North Atlantic.

About ten days out of Boston, with heavy rains the first few days out, they saw the island of Newfoundland on the western horizon. From here, they struck out north east, into the open Atlantic.

And there was so much water! After thirty-four days, they were still sailing; not a drop of land in sight. Several pirates, unexpected, beset diUmbria and Laurent; they escaped them all, at least to this point. It was interesting, in a way, to see the contrast between the two; where Laurent could barely escape an encounter without his vessel all but sunk, diUmbria time and again smashed to pieces their attackers, the volleys from his galleon tearing gaping holes in their adversaries.

On the thirty-seventh day, a fire broke out and burned the last of the amazonian fish that were still on board the Fisher of Manchester, as diUmbria’s galleon had been named. It was sad, but could have been much worse, and was quickly put out by the skilled crew.

It took an amazing sixty-two days at sea to complete the survey of the Labrador Sea. At one point, the tip of Greenland was in sight; but diUmbria made the call to return to Boston, as supplies were running short. He knew, then, that if he intended to circumnavigate Greenland, it would have to be a dedicated expedition, not incorporated as part of another exploration.

After sixty-seven days at sea, a sullen storm catches them in sight of Newfoundland, left behind so many days ago. They make it through, but it would be less than poetic to say the experience dampened their spirits. Through all their troubles, an incredible eighty-one days at sea brought them back to Boston, safe and sound.

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