Iceberg Proteus

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Tue 14 Aug 2007 13:34

Position:  49 52.8 N  055 01.0 W

Wind:  Southwest  12 knots


It’s official, we have found our iceberg!

As far as icebergs go it rather on the small side but up close it is still one huge chunk of ice.

Shortly after midday while Paul was on watch I came out on deck and scanned the horizon, the day had grown overcast by this stage but out on our port beam a break in the clouds threw a patch of sunshine onto the water and glistening brightly within it was something shining white, it had to be an iceberg.  It was now upwind of us so we tightened sheets coming hard onto the wind and started to work our way towards it.  Over a 20 minute run with a couple of compass bearings plotted on the chart we determined it to be about 5 miles away.  It took us several tacks and about an hour and half to come up to it but this only built our excitement and gave us the opportunity to view it from many angles.  At first it looked like a nuclear submarine, a round long tear shaped hull complete with a conning tower atop, then a graceful finger pointing to the heavens, then it rolled over and became a soft curving hill, then it rolled the other way a long neck of ice holding a large bulb, two gullies either side of the neck suggested the folded wings of a beautiful white swan.  This large finger was clearly making the berg unstable for it rolled again revealing sharp hard flanks, all flat surfaces and right angles, now it was an Egyptian pyramid.  As we grew closer the neck in fact broke and the iceberg rolled the remnants skyward, sharp jagged edges where the neck had been.  The bulbous head and fragments of ice drifted clear of the main iceberg.  It was a gift.  We had been wondering how we were going to obtain a sample of this berg for our friends back in Annapolis, as we approached it became very clear we were not going to be able to get near this little berg.  It must have been many tons of ice rolling and surging capriciously, the ocean swirled around it, sucked under it in large vortices one moment, then spewed out the next. 

As we circled the subject of naming rights was discussed, eventually I conceded to Paul, it was discovered on his watch, he had stayed with the ship all the way from Annapolis, some 1655 nautical miles (1906 statute miles or 3067 kilometers), and he was about to leave in two days.  He very aptly chose “Proteus”: the old man of the sea in Homer’s Odyssey, whom Menelaus wrestled, Proteus all the while changing into myriad shapes to escape, but with determination and persistence Menelaus held fast and forced Proteus to help him find his way home after the Trojan War.

We then made our way to the fragments of ice, hauled aboard a good size chunk, gave thanks to Proteus for his gracious gift and turned bows southeast to make our way towards Twillingate Harbor for the night.

Thank you.