Saturday, August 1, 2009

Voyage of the Vikings, Day 08 – Prince Christian Sound, Greenland

We enjoy a couple of unexpected bonuses today! Our first bonus is a ray or two of sunshine! I wouldn't call it sunny day, but it is an improvement over the usual North Atlantic gloom.

Our second bonus is an unexpected side trip. Instead of sailing offshore to pass around the southern tip of Greenland last night, our intrepid captain hop scotched south to another fjord, named Prince Christian Sound, which appears to cut through the tip of Greenland. Cruise Director Susan, announcing this bonus on the public address last night, assured us a scenic passage. I overheard a fellow passenger say that this side trip is not publicized in advance, because it isn't always passable. He didn’t say what the impediment might be, but ice seems a good guess.


Early Morning off Greenland

We also hear a lot of chatter about prior cruises. Some of our fellow passengers seem almost to be professional cruisers. One of the two couples at our dinner table has been on 45 separate trips over we don't know how many years. Some of the people on this cruise are Voyage of the Vikings repeaters, and recall transiting the Sound on their prior journeys.

The four billion year old pre-Cambrian rock of Greenland is some of the oldest on earth. Part of the Laurentian Shield, it is the same basement rock as that found in the Canadian shield, north of Lake Superior. In the south of Greenland, this old stone is interspersed and interpenetrated by more recent volcanic rock.

Greenland has been covered with glaciers for well over a hundred thousand years. These glaciers have carved numerous deep, narrow “U” shaped valleys that have filled with sea water as the glaciers retreated over the past ten thousand years. In the southern tip of Greenland, these fjords interconnect, forming a tortuous passage from the west side of Greenland to the East side. This is the origin of Prince Christian Sound. This morning we sailed through this passage. A few miscellaneous facts about the Sound are noted below the following map.

Google Earth Map of Prince Christian Sound

Prince Christian Sound facts:

-waters depths are 250 -300 meters (about 900 feet)

-seal and birds inhabit the sound but it is too confining for whales

-alpine lakes are located at top of the peaks

-there are many waterfalls and glaciers

-at beginning peaks are 2200 feet and are taller within

-inside the sound is a sealing village of 150 people

-icebergs in the sound formed by precipitation at least a couple of centuries old


Sealing Village in Prince Christian Sound

Unfortunately, as the day has proceeded it has became overcast and drizzly. The exterior temperature is 45 deg. I know it’s no excuse, but because of the weather, and because of an aching back and an aching shoulder, Keith did not go out on deck to take most of our Prince Christian Sound pictures. For this reason, some of the photos shown below are blurry and streaky. Deal with it.


Nuisance Ice in Prince Christian Sound


The Vessel Maasdam Proceeding Through Prince Christian Sound


The French Cruise Vessel Le Diamant


Glacier Seen Through Glass


One of Many Waterfalls in Prince Christian Sound


Keith Finally Goes On Deck to Take a Photograph

A flash forward – We were fortunate to transit the Sound again on our return voyage westbound. It was a rare sunny day and Keith took numerous sunshine photographs which he will post in a couple of weeks. Please be patient. In the meantime, photographs of the Maasdam’s eastbound transit, taken from the French cruise vessel La Diamant shown above, may be viewed at the following link:

We have stolen one of these photos and present it below.

Maasdam Transiting Prince Christian Sound, Photographed by the La Diamant

After exiting the Prince Christian Sound we sailed northeast at about 045 deg. toward Iceland. The wind is 45 knots out of the northeast (045 deg.) Ship’s speed is about 16 knots, meaning that wind speed over the deck is about 61 knots, or just a few miles per hour shy hurricane speed!

Our latitude in southern Greenland is about the same as St. Petersburg Russia. Our northeasterly course is bearing us to Iceland, which is about the same latitude as Fairbanks, Alaska. On the northern coast of Iceland we will be near the Arctic Circle. I don't know if we will cross it. If so, it will be Kathy’s second crossing, and Keith's third.

They stole another hour from us today! They also stole our passports, saying they must be collected for presentation to Icelandic Customs & Immigration authorities. They have promised to return both items (lost hours and passports). We hope they deliver on this promise!

Keith spent the afternoon in the digital lounge, learning about Windows Live photo and internet programs. Windows Live Photo is similar to several other programs in Keith's photo arsenal, such as Canon Zoom Browser, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Album (different from Photoshop), and Picasa. As with all such programs, Live Photo has a couple of unique capabilities which will make it a worthwhile (free) addition to the toolbox. Nothing, of course holds a candle to classic Photoshop, which is the granddaddy of digital photo editing software. Used by professionals, Photoshop is by far the most powerful, as well as the most frustrating and most unfriendly photo editing software on the market.

Kathy spent her afternoon more profitably than Keith; she took a long nap. We currently are in the Crow's Nest, watching the waves roll by. It is very difficult to estimate sea state from this cosseted perch, but Keith is guessing that the average wave height is 10 feet. The ship is moving about a bit, but it is far from uncomfortable. Think stabilizers!

We are headed down to the Lido for supper, after which we shall flip a coin to determine whether we do tonight's show (a Vegas review), or crash.

Fast forward to 8pm. We have done the Vegas review. Kathy thought it was great.

Tomorrow is another day. Stay tuned.

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