Wed 23 Jul 2008 02:01
Wind: North, gentle breeze
Weather: clear, sunshine
Day's run: 39 miles (motoring)
I am very pleased to be able to report that we are safe and sound back at
anchor where we started three days ago.
Yesterday's hike was without a doubt one of the sillier things I have done
in life. I perhaps overextended myself a tad at one point, trying to climb
a rock face with a too few hand and foot holds, but I managed to back track
safely and find an alternative route to the "top" of the glacier. The
landscape from the moment I set foot ashore to where I launched the time
capsule I can only describe as a complete mess. The glacier has piled
debris, small moraines, pebbles and boulders up to the size of a small house
all over the place. Where it has receded water continues the erosion,
scouring the barren landscape and has undermined loose stones and sand
leaving many rocks looking very precarious. Most of them, especially the
bigger ones I gave a wide berth, occasionally I upset a smaller one setting
off a mini landslide. Very little grew here, it seems the glacier has
receded from much of the terrain relatively recently, only a few flowers had
found a hold in patches of soil here and there and moss grew in some of the
As I climbed and could look down on the glacier its nature became more
apparent, ice squeezed together under enormous pressure causing it to
crumple into huge jagged shapes, like the teeth of gigantic ripsaws
staggered alongside each other for several miles. I managed to get up the
side of the glacier along the slope that confined its southern flank to
where the glacier started to level off a bit. I was at a height of 765 feet
and surrounded by small peaks of ice, about 20 to 30 feet high, they looked
like piles of dirt but you only had to scrape the surface and beneath a thin
layer, in most places less than an inch, was solid slippery ice. Water was
trickling around everywhere.
I wanted to launch my time capsule at least a little ways out onto the
glacier so I scrambled over some of these peaks until I came to a clean
section of ice where I could say we were really on the glacier. Here I
mounted the video camera on the tripod which I had lugged all the way with
me to record the moment and in between puffs said some nonsense then threw
the capsule as far as I could further out onto the glacier, which was not
very far I'm afraid, I have always been a rotten throw. I doubt whether it
will ever be seen again, it doesn't matter, it is my futile little gesture
in the face of what are probably inconceivable odds that my species will be
able to cooperate sufficiently to deal with global warming in time to avoid
major disruption to climate and eco-systems. I don't think of myself as a
pessimist, if I was I wouldn't have bothered doing this. I think many of
the statements made about global warming are unnecessarily dramatic, which
does not help the situation. Rather I believe global warming will
exacerbate many problems that we already have; famine, poverty,
overpopulation, pollution, collapsing eco-systems, warfare, you know, all
the usual stuff. Whether it could get so bad as to cause a major change of
state in the climate to the point of threatening human survival, I very much
doubt, but it seems to me to be a good idea to play it safe.
My position at the point of launch according to my GPS was
65 54.636 N 051 39.655 W.
This should show up on the map on my blog site, I can't check it myself but
would be curious to see what it looks like if you zoom in as far as you can
on it, particularly in the Google Earth mode.
Sylph sure was a good sight when I saw her again as I came down the
mountainside. As I left there were few small bergy bits circling around her
with the changing tide, it worried me that they might snag the anchor chain
and cause her to drag. While I was climbing quite a large berg had calved
off the glacier face, however I wasn't too worried about these bigger bits
because I figured they would ground before they could menace Sylph. The
glacier had become very active while I was at anchor near it (about a mile
away). As I was climbing I witnessed several small bergs calving; cracking
with a loud retort and then falling into the fjord. I even witnessed an
avalanche of snow and ice on the far side of the fjord. I heard it first
and looking in the direction of the sound saw what looked like a huge
waterfall cascading down the mountainside for about a minute, with lots of
rumblings and whooshing, then it stopped and all was silent again. I wasn't
on that side as it looked completely inaccessible. Once back on board I
made myself a simple meal and crawled into a very welcome bunk.
This morning I was again roused from my slumbers by my strict first mate, a
rousing that cannot be ignored for very long. Feeling refreshed and keen to
move on we had breakfast and weighed anchor to make our way back towards the
fjord entrance. Today, unlike yesterday morning, the sky was clear and the
sun was shining warmly. If one has to motor then these are the conditions
for it. At 7.30 this evening we dropped anchor in the same small bay where
we had entered. I think this will be my last fjord for this voyage.
I have taken plenty of photos but won't be able to post them until I get to
civilization again which, if all goes well, will be in about four or five
days from now.
I will add the text of the message I enclosed in the time capsule as a
Tomorrow I believe the forecast is for favorable winds to head north so now
I want to get some rest so we can make the most of them.
One thing I have worked out, when the noisy thing under the floor is running
skipper Bob seems stuck out on the patio hanging onto what for all the world
looks like a steering wheel. He leaves it for moments, rushes down below,
and not 15 seconds is back out there holding on to it again. His most
common activity seems to be making coffee, though it takes him several
attempts. This is all fine and good but I have to say that during such
periods he is most remiss in his primary duties, namely looking after me.
It doesn't seem to matter what I say or do he just gives me one of his dumb
looks, shrugs his shoulder and goes back to looking around at the passing
scenery. I am glad it all amuses him, but personally it gives me the
creeps, all this stuff passing by, it isn't natural and I try to take as
little notice of it as possible, fortunately for the most part that isn't
The food does not improve!
Fortunately my work as ever compensates for these gross inconveniences.
Nonetheless I am not one to complain and well, I guess:
All is well.