By Emily // Thursday 4 Oct // 12:34:22 // 1 Comment // View
The last 24 hours now seem like a distant memory. Yesterday lunch time we were listening to Christmas carols as the snow fell outside. Last night we were heeling over in the middle of a force 9 under only bare poles, taking it in turns to hang on for dear life whilst watching out for icebergs. Between 2 and 4 the sky began to clear, and we even had a glimpse of a northern light as we weaved our way through endless bands of ice.
This morning, I have spent a good few hours totally mesmerised by our setting. Since first light when the moon and Venus were stunningly bright, we have watched the sun rise from the mouth of an idyllic fjord, not a breath of wind or a cloud in the sky. We then did a couple of circumnavigations of a breathtakingly sculpted iceberg, which, in my scientific wisdom, I think looks just like a Mr Whippy!
On that note, I can’t stay inside any longer, having rested and emptied my camera, and topped up my coffee levels, I’m off to take in some more of this awesome scenery.
It’s great to get your messages, I wouldn’t have wished the last eight days upon anybody, but now I really do wish you could see this!
Well, the 2-4 am watch this morning was particularly horrible. It was quite windy – we were travelling downwind at 8 knots flying only the jib (small foresail) as the snow froze to our backs. A water profile was out of the question; in fact Simon was informed in no uncertain terms that if he even dared ask for the boat to be stopped, the skipper would be sending him overboard with the instrument!
Even so, when I turned in for a few hours sleep, we were still under the impression that later this morning, we would be in the shelter of the coast. Unfortunately we are now heading north of northeast, 020?. Yes, you’ve got it; we are indeed heading back in the direction of Spitsbergen.
As you already know, the ice has come further south this year than usual, and is still covering the entrance to Scoresby Sund, our proposed destination. We were planning, therefore, to follow to ice edge south to the nearest accessible fjord. The problem is that the ice has also spread east, blocking our path southwards. Strong southwesterly winds that we have been experiencing recently are likely to be the explanation for this.
So, all that we can do for the moment is keep the ice on the right and hope that some time soon we get to Greenland. Music is keeping the spirits up for now, but we really do need to find land soon.
Click to read the full post >
This morning started with much excitement at the first sighting of ice – at 8.30am everyone was up and taking pictures. It did wonders for the morale on board. The saloon which had been full of soggy gear and sleeping bodies since Sunday became a dance floor. There was much jumping around to ‘Ice Ice baby’ and other cheesy goodness! It is impossible to describe the difference between this and the seemingly endless days of almost everyone on board feeling very ill.
Many a time throughout the voyage so far, I’ve really had to stop and remind myself that we really are sailing (albeit with an occasional helping hand from the engine) across an incredibly remote and very important piece of sea. The Fram Strait, between Spitsbergen and Greenland is the only deep water connection between the entire Arctic Ocean and any of the rest of the global oceans. For this reason, changes in the currents here are strong indicators of change in both the Arctic environment and the large scale circulation of the oceans. Click to read the full post >
Emily is an oceanography Ph.D student, working on the impact of mixing between warm Atlantic and cold Arctic waters. She worked for a year on the physical oceanography of the West Spitsbergen Shelf, with data she collected on a three week cruise in 2005. She has since been to sea monitoring the change in currents affecting the Arctic, between Iceland and Scotland, and will return in August this year to the Greenland-Scotland Ridge to monitor the mixing processes between these currents.