Post 283: 6 August 2018 (AM), Narsaruaq
I woke up abruptly in my dark cabin, only slightly lit by light from the moon through my porthole. I looked at my watch and it was 3.15am.
The ship leant over and my glass of water tipped over towards the drawer of my desk, which had now opened. The ship then lurched the other way and the large water bottles went hurtling across the cabin.
I then heard a crunching sound like breaking glass and what I thought were my wife’s cosmetic bottles crashing. It was all confusing.
Then the ship engines appeared to stop. I jumped higher onto the bed to look out of the porthole and saw land not so far away. Then an iceberg with red paint on it passed the porthole. The plimsoll line of the ship is painted red.
I then got some tissues to soak up the water in my drawer and remove my tie, which had got wet, and my bow-ties, which were still dry, and anything else that was in the drawer. A bit like on the Titanic some people carried on as normal, until the ship sank.
My wife had also woken up and we concluded we must have hit an iceberg. We later learnt that we were in a narrow passage on our way to Narsarsuaq, probably along either the Narlunaq or the Tunulliarfik fjord. We were due in Narsarsuaq at 7am.
My main regret is that I didn’t photograph the offending iceberg. The photograph below, taken later, is an example of an iceberg going through a narrow passage and shows how difficult it would be to avoid it. It was rumoured that the ice pilots couldn’t avoid the one we had just hit so went for the weakest part, in this case the middle. This is supported by friends of ours who were on the other side of our deck and also saw the iceberg float past their porthole with paint on it. It is also believed that two parts of the iceberg were above the surface of the water and joined in the middle under the water.
With no water appearing in our cabin and no alarm, Celia and myself went back to bed. We put our faith in the ice-strengthened ship, which on this occasion had done its job. However, other passengers did get dressed and went to more public areas. Others fell out of bed due to the jolt. A Titanic Moment!
The next day our Captain announced that the ship would be checked in port followed by another more major check with specialist divers at the next bigger port. He did say we had hit a growler (a small ice-float). There was some doubt in some passengers minds that it was a growler, especially from those who saw it.
Icebergs do come down the fjord from the Qoroq (also spelt Qooqqut) glacier as shown in this map. It was an early start in the morning to go on an excursion at 7.45am to the icebergs in Qoroq Fjord, where they congregate. I had a walk planned for the afternoon.
Icebergs tend to be larger than ice-flows. Greenland’s inland ice cap produces millions of tonnes of icebergs and ice flows each year.
We were allocated to small local fishing boats, which took us from the ship to the ice-flows. We were blessed with perfect weather.
To get amongst the ice in small boats is quite magical and humbling. Each iceberg/flow is different and unique. Nature is a wonderful sculptor. Here are some black and white photographs I took.
We then went further up the fjord to see the source of these icebergs/flows. Our local ‘captain’ switched the engines off and we listened to the silence – it was so unlike anything else I had ever done. The scale of it was overwhelming.
The icebergs and glaciers are magical in colour too!! I will not apologise for the number of photographs as each ice flow is unique and carefully created by nature. To be amongst them overwhelms the senses and results in the mind constantly turning over to take in all the shapes, sizes and colours not normally seen. Many hues of blue and white, some intense, some transparent and some dense and snow packed.
The imagination wanders – a snowplough? A strange pointed eared animal?A monster from the deep with an eye, small mouth and flippers. At times we sped between the ice and then stopped suddenly close enough to touch it.
Then blue ice surrounded us. This is millions of years old and turns blue due to the pressure it is under.
Then a ‘space ship’ appeared to land from outer space. Then it was time to get close again, at times almost underneath them.
Before approaching the really big ones
Before scurrying back to our ship with our tails between our legs as nature showed us its power and supremacy.
Such moments are etched on the mind and soul, never to be forgotten.