By Cape Farewell // Wednesday 3 Oct // 15:18:26 // View
Brian gets roped in to help sending web updates direct from the deck of the Noorderlicht, as we sail through the night in bad weather and strong winds. Big thanks to Iridium for help with our remote communications setup during the voyage.
I’m starting to mix my days up already, it seems like weeks ago that I left London. We moored close to Trygghamna overnight, had breakfast and went ashore as I desperately tried to connect to the internet and send some text and images up before we head out to open sea. I’m very aware that none of us are going to be enthusiastically typing on this computer once the swell, waves and nausea kick in. Anticipation of this moment is building and hanging over us.
We took the zodiac into shore at the foot of the Kjerulfbreen Glacier. I looked up for the first time and noticed that we were surrounded by immense, black and white sketched mountains. A ringed seal surfaced in the fjord near the base of the glacier. This area has a 75 million year history that feels tangible. Dinosaur remains have been uncovered in the valley. You could hear rock slides in the distance as we walked over Jurassic rock beaches, crunching history with every step. We discovered fern fossils embedded in rocks and slow forming ice crystals with long fingers spreading out from pebbles in the stream on the edge of the glacier. It’s been 18 years since Ko was last here. In those 18 years the glacier that once covered the length of the shore has retreated 4 kilometers. Pretty fast moving in glacier terms and, as Carol explained, an unusual glacier form. It’s now imploding in on itself, collapsing in the middle, it’s edges hugging the rock mountains on either side. It’s obviously dynamic, but looks frozen in time.
Back on the Noorderlicht we set our watch schedules, left the protection of Svalbard and started our journey to Greenland. I’m on the graveyard 4-6am watch (and afternoon 4-6pm). A pod of dolphins joined us just before sunset.
I’m counting Sunday as day 1 of our voyage. After a long 24 hours of travel we made it on-board the Noorderlicht in one big, sprawling group, plus luggage. I was up all night squeezing my final few hours of good, reliable internet access in Oslo. Stupidly. Now I’m exhausted, but finding energy to talk to the rest of the crew on flights and waiting rooms rather than catching up on sleep. We flew through Tromso with it’s dry, red hillsides, then on to Svalbard which was vast and beautiful from above. Black/grey earth and highlights of snow, mountains, ridges and bays. Everyone was completely awestruck. Amy and I rapidly tag team photographed as we descended into Longyearbyen. It’s a different world up here, a different sort of place.
Onto the Noorderlicht and our luggage together looked so excessive, littering the upper deck. Longyearbyen sits fairly uncomfortably in it’s landscape, with the look of a small border town. Mining, science/teaching and tourism are the main industries here. Each year around half of it’s 2000 strong community move on and are replaced. We cleared the town out of Longyearbyen canvass shopping bags, had a drink at the Wham playing sports bar, then headed back to the boat where we set off straight away to moor overnight 4 hours sail away, near Trygghamna. As the sun set we were all on deck to watch a postcard pink sunset with a vertical band of light cutting up into the sky. Beautiful, but apparently warning of bad weather ahead. Hmmmm not so beautiful.
After a long day, and many months of preparation, we’ve all made it to Oslo and the Greenland Voyage is finally away. Tomorrow morning we fly out direct to Longyearbyen where we take over from the Youth Expedition and board the Noorderlicht. The current ice maps for our route are “interesting”. What this means for us we’re not sure at the moment. Our first step tomorrow is to analyse the latest satellite information available, and I’m sure we’ll be posting more about it soon…
Artist and Designer (Australia/UK)
Kathy has a background in graffiti art. She currently works with new media and the internet. She is a director of creative company Bullet and is designer of the Cape Farewell website, which was one of five winners in the e-Science category of the UN World Summit Awards, 2005. Kathy joined the 2004 Cape Farewell expedition and created the work ‘Here Today’ for Cape Farewell’s exhibition Art & Climate Change.