Saturday, August 22, 2009

Voyage of the Vikings, Day 29 - Prince Christian Sound

8:00am, wind 22kt NNW, speed 13 knots, seas moderate, temperature 50 deg. Clear skies! We hope it holds for our transit of the Sound, which was cloudy and hazy for our eastbound trip.


Unusual Clear Weather Greets Our Day

Over the past two nights the crew has given us back two more of the hours they stole from us on the eastbound journey. We now are only one hour different from Boston, I think.

Keith was up for coffee and early breakfast at 6. He was joined for awhile by one of the fellows we see frequently in the Crow's Nest. We had a pleasant time chatting about boats and boating, and about hurricane avoidance. It also was pleasant to just sit on top of the kennel and watch the waves roll by.

A letter from the captain was distributed to the cabins last night. It said in part:

"...Hurricane Bill is currently in the Atlantic Ocean, and is heading north-northwest. If the projected path holds true, there is a chance that our itinerary could be affected. With the assistance of personnel in our corporate office, we are reviewing alternate arrangements in case we need to revise our itinerary. The storm will not impact our arrival in Boston on August 29th."

Keith has been tracking this storm for several days, and thinks that dodging it may be a bit tricky, because pesky continents keep getting in the way and limiting our options. We shall see. I have absolutely no qualms about safety, as I don't think we are likely to come closer than 500 miles to the center of the storm, based on it's current projected path.

11am, and the latest update from the captain on Hurricane Bill. His assessment, based on much better information, I am sure, is much the same as mine. He does not think we will need to change our itinerary, but we may jink a bit. Being very cagey, he did not comment on the possibility for snotty weather Monday.

Keith went to the Rembrandt Lounge at 9:15am to hear the ice pilot talk, again. He was very busy taking notes the first time, and was anxious to photograph the ice pilot’s slides to incorporate in the Blog. Photographs of slides do not look great, but are better than nothing. The lecture was basically similar to the eastbound lecture, but was still excellent and Keith enjoyed hearing it again. Keith’s attention span isn’t what it used to be, and he needs to hear it over and over and over again before he gets it.

It's currently 11am and we are in the Crow's Nest viewing the approach to Prince Christian Sound. Keith was extraordinarily lucky to get a premium seat. The lounge was packed when Keith got up here after the ice pilot talk. Fortunately one of the nice ladies from the "early risers club" saw me wandering about trying to find a seat. She informed me that she and her husband were leaving for lunch at 11, and gave us their seats. A very kind act. But then, they are Oregonians who are an inherently kind people.


The Greenland Ice Sheet Comes Into View

as We Approach Prince Christian Sound

11:40am and we are entering the Prince Christian Sound. It's partly sunny, and looks very different from last trip. Once again Keith's GPS has us doing 13 knots through solid granite. It's only off by a hundred yards or so, but that's enough to put us solidly aground in this area. We hope the captain has a better GPS.


Entering Prince Christian Sound Westbound


Helicopter Performing Weather Station Maintenance

At the Entrance to Prince Christian Sound

Our Route Through Prince Christian Sound Is Extended

To Take Advantage of the Beautiful Sunny Weather

As we proceed into the sound, we are treated to a running commentary over the PA system. A couple of miscellaneous tidbits from this commentary follow:

  • Prince Christian Sound is 36 km long, and 1300 ft. wide at it's narrowest point.
  • The Greenland Ice sheet averages 1-1/2 miles thick, and covers 80% of the land area.

We are down to 6 mph going through a patch of ice cubes at the base of a glacier.


Brash Ice at the Foot of a Greenland Glacier

Along the way we see nightmarish whorls in the face of the shore side rock. It looks as if it has been molten at some time or another. I have a foggy recollection that this is Precambrian granite. I later inquired of our resident geologist, who confirmed the ancient granite, but then told me that there have been numerous volcanic eruptions up through this basement rock.


Ropy, Glacier Polished Lava Overlies the

Precambrian Granite of Southern Greenland


The Thin Vertical Streak of Magma

Intrudes the Greenland Granite

We have come below to the Lido Deck enjoy the poolside Mongolian buffet. They just opened the roof to ventilate the smoke. I don't know if we will be able to stay here, as it is very cold and breezy with the roof open.

1:30pm, and we have moved into the warmer Lido Café to finish our lunch. The Mongolian BBQ was excellent. Kathy had Chinese veggies with mixed shrimp & scallops. Keith had same, plus beef, pork, & chicken. Feels like a nap, but Keith wants to edit pictures.

We just passed a surprisingly large chunk of ice, considering we are 10 miles inland. It’s an interesting coincidence that this bergy bit was floating just at the narrowest part of the Sound.


Prince Christian Sound Narrows to

1300 Feet at it’s Narrowest Point

The Bergy Bit at this Narrowest Point Provides

an Additional Challenge for Our Pilot

It feels like we are like sailing up the Virgin River in Zion National Park, with high, almost vertical, naked rock walls enclosing a narrow canyon. We continue to be favored with sunshine. Along the way we pass more ice, and more interesting geological features.


Growlers and Bergy Bits Present Little

Navigational Challenge in the Brilliant Sunshine


Aluvial Fan at the Base of the Steep Mountainside


Trickling Waterfall Drains the

Tip of a Hanging Glacier

Later in the afternoon we again pass the sealing village that we saw on our eastbound trip. Small buzzy outboard boats chase us for a couple of miles past the village.

4:45, and we are most of the way through the Sound. Because the weather is so good, our captain took the long way through. There are numerous channels that weave their way among the dozens of island-mountains that comprise the southern tip of Greenland, so there are dozens of ways to pass among the islands. Proceeding eastbound three weeks ago we took the most direct route through in marginal weather. Today we took the scenic route.


Reflections of the Sun Guide Us Through

the Exit From Prince Christian Sound

Our GPS balks periodically because the steepness of the surrounding mountains blocks the satellites. I believe us to be close to the exit, but I'm not sure.

5:20 update. We are back in the open ocean, on the west side of Greenland. There are some major icebergs in view. Seas are very small waves, ship is rock steady. May be hard to sleep tonight. It's hard to believe there is a hurricane spinning in the same ocean we are sailing in.


Looking Back at Prince Christian Sound


Icebergs Mark Our Path Away From the Sound

We are in the Lido Café, waiting for supper to appear at 5:30. Having turned the clocks back twice in two days, our bodies are still somewhere just west of Reykjavik, thinking it is almost 7:30.

My body now thinks it's 8:30. Good night.

No comments: