By Ben // Saturday 29 Sep // 23:55:57 // View
The morning watch brought a welcome sight—ice. After five days of unbroken sea in all directions, a gleaming white horizon gave great joy, and yielded some early morning high fives. The spotting occurred squarely between the 6-8 and 8-10 watches, allowing for shared elation and many a slaphappy call of “chunk!” as actual bits of sea ice floated unassumingly aside the boat.
Here a touch of science is called for: the ice we’re seeing is “old,” probably formed two or three years ago up in the polar icecap. It’s then driven down the northeast coast of Greenland by northerly winds and the East Greenland Current, and generally (for the past few years at least) it breaks up somewhere in the neighborhood of Scoresby Sund. Which is where we’re heading. So the plan from here is to follow the ice south to Scoresby Sund, or wherever it’s loose enough (meaning about 10-percent ice cover) and make for the coast.
The blocks of floating ice are somehow captivating. It’s possible that this is because we’ve seen nothing but sea for five days, but I think there’s more to it. The history of this ice, formed years before up towards the pole, carries through it, and the pieces we see have broken from the main flow, weathered and shaped by warmer (it’s all relative) water, wearing their years of frigid floating. In these bits of ice we can feel the last gasp of the solid state.
[Note: I’d started and put on hold this post sometime midday Saturday. As I revisit it Sunday evening, and after spending more time with the ice all day Saturday, we’re feeling a bit different about ice. See subsequent post.]
Representative quote of the day: “It’s like someone has taken the most boring soup in the world, and added croutons.” –Marcus, on ice in the sea.