Posts from Sunday 28 Sep


Dr Carol Cotterill reviews the charts and prepares a marine geophysical survey line plan

Frustration reigns amongst the scientific staff at the moment. Initial problems with the triggering of the source were sorted yesterday afternoon. However we then discovered that the ship is a very noisy one acoustically speaking! Whilst the equipment was behaving perfectly, any return signal was being masked by the ship’s engines. Various options were discussed and tried, in liaison with the ship’s captain and crew, but at 11pm local time we decided to call it a night and start again in the morning.
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Qeqertarsuaq (Godhavn)

Husky dog
Greenlandic huskie dogs, bred with wolves and used for pulling sledges, surround the town of Qeqertarsuaq.

House in the small town of Qeqertarsuaq (Godhavn)
House on the rocks in the small town of Qeqertarsuaq (Godhavn).
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Technical Hitches

For the science team, Sunday was a day that we’d rather forget, so I’ll keep it quick. Whilst the rest of the group went ashore to visit a Greenlandic settlement and even see an iceberg tip over, we were sat in a container full of dysfunctional kit! The geophysics side managed to get all theirs working, only to find that the ship was too noisy to hear the sea bed returns and the Oceanography side failed to get the software to read the data from the CTD. It wasn’t all that bad though, plenty of hope, and a Marcus who can always be relied upon to cheer us up! Have a look at the previous days…


Stop in Qeqertarsuaq (Big Island) on Disko island for walks to warm springs (1 to 6 degrees? – warm a relative concept), and a chance to walk in the town and surrounding hills and black basalt beaches. There are a couple of Greenlanders with us as guides throughout the trip, Karen and Ludvig. Both are Greenlanders who have a Danish education. Karen works in tourism, but also has a geology background. A good contingent head for church (L’s grandfather is the Pastor). The big draw is that the Lutheran service is in Greenlandic – a rare chance to engage directly with Greenlanders on the trip, though the turnout per head of population turns out to be not much over the average English midlands C of E crowd. But engage we do with a perhaps misplaced have-a-go attitude to singing along with the hymns.
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Dogs and icebergs

What a day! We sailed during the night to reach the island of Disko, where we arrived around 9am and stopped to visit the village of Qeqertarsuaq (Godhavn in Danish). It is Sunday so all shops and activities are closed and there are only a few people around. The first visit is to the church were some of us stay for the 10am mass. Although we didn’t understand a word, being in this little warm timber church was somehow reassuring. There was a lot of singing during the mass, that made it quite enjoyable… and if I say so (one that never goes to the church) it means it was great!

Francesca on the shore in Godhavn
Francesca photographed on the shore in Godhavn.
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Endangered killers picnic at the edge of the world

Robyn Hitchcock

I cannot begin to start or stop describing this place. To say something is grey means little, it is green also. And white. What we imply by ‘god’ is a being with no perspective, no point of view, but eyes that peer from everywhere. This ship is full of eyes. It docked today in Qeqertarsuaq, a fishing town at the southern tip of Disko Island.

This morning my spectacles fell off my head into the sea as I clambered aboard a zodiac (a low-in-the-water black rubber boat that seats 12 and one helmsman). The boat rolls on the rolling sea. Lemn wonders if we are going somewhere or is it only the sea that is moving? We are going one way and the sea is going another, I assume – and we have to make that work, to get to our destination.
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Getting creative

Vanessa Carlton getting creative onboard the Grigory Mikheev
Vanessa Carlton getting creative onboard the Grigory Mikheev.
Photo: Nathan Gallagher

Surveying the seabed

The BGS experience difficulty surveying the seabed. Carol Cotterill describes how this feels. Audio by Vicky Long.

High Light

Qeqertarsuaq is a settlement of 800 people on the southern tip of Disko Island. The church, Lutheran like most of inhabited Greenland, sits at the highest point in the village and the houses are scattered on the hillsides mostly on individual plots. Many are brightly painted using every colour in the spectrum contrasting with the magnificent barrenness of much of the landscape. The cemetery makes the brightest splash of colour with the graves heaped with dayglow artificial flowers. Christian missionaries from Denmark started coming to Greenland in the early 18th century and eventually displaced the shamanistic religion practiced by the inhabitants, paving the way for the establishment of Greenland as a Danish colony. Self-rule was granted in 1979 and soon there is to be a vote on independence. Ludvig Hammeken, who is studying marketing management in Copenhagen, has joined the crew as our second Inuit guide and with Karen makes a presentation on Greenland’s history and culture.
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Never again…

“Never again… I’m never going back… Not even if hell freezes over”. Words I repeated so many times last year, usually to myself, but occasionally to anyone else who was willing to get near to a man who’s day was structured for the most part around vomiting, groaning and fear based perspiration. The last Cape Farewell trip – sailing from Spitsbergen in Norway across the open Arctic Sea to the east coast of Greenland – was tough. Tough like agreeing to have a ride a washing machine on a long synthetics cycle is tough. I was out of my depth in so many ways and iller than I recall ever having been in my comfortable life, including the time I ate indeterminate meat based matter in spicy stew in an Indonesian street market.
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Arriving in Qeqertarsuaq

House in the small town of Qeqertarsuaq (Godhavn)

After almost 24 hours sail we get the opportunity to explore Greenland’s soil, disembarking at the small town of Qeqertarsuaq (Danish name Godhavn).

Massive icebergs hover off the shore
Massive icebergs hover off the shore.
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Measuring ocean conductivity, temperature and density

Oceanographers Simon Boxall and Emily Venables
Oceanographers Simon Boxall and Emily Venables plan the CTD drop, to measure ocean conductivity (salinity), temperature and density.
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