Posts from Friday 5 October, 2007

Northern lights

By Nick // Friday 5 Oct // 23:58:02 // View


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A Glossary of Terms

By Ben // Friday 5 Oct // 23:21:26 // View

Another day of arctic adventuring, and another day I just don’t have the wherewithal to effectively discuss. Yet.

So rather than burden you with an overly emotional attempt at restructured narrative (abbreviated highlights: morning in thick ice field; climb to crow’s nest; walk along coastline in Barclay Bay, where quite possibly no human has ever tread before; drinking cocktails poured over glacial ice; Vikram swimming in -1-degree Celcius water; the best photograph I’ve ever taken in my life (on somebody else’s camera); projections onto icebergs at night), for our American audience I’ll offer a basic glossary of British dialect common on the ship, and possibly causing minor confusion to the Stateside readership.  [Note: this list might be heavy on the Manchester euphemism, as my cabin-mate Liam has plied me with Mancunian talk.]

knackered:  tired
shattered: see above
throw a wobbly: to get mad
Mum: mom
slag: [retracted]
borf : [retracted]
chunder: to vomit
make sick: see above
bollocks: exclamation of frustration; or [retracted]
brew:  tea; or, a beverage (quite possibly life-sustaining), served hot every 40 minutes or so
slash: to use the toilet, #1
[retracted]:  [retracted]
nick: to steal

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Remote updates

By Cape Farewell // Friday 5 Oct // 15:33:54 // View


Sending remote website updates from Bullet’s mobile office in D’Aunay Bay.

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In the upper mess

By Vikram // Friday 5 Oct // 14:17:15 // View



Vikram Seth working in the upper mess of the Noorderlicht. (Photos: Shiro Takatini)

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A message for the youth crew

By gorm // Friday 5 Oct // 13:48:47 // 4 Comments // View

Hey Youth Team. How are you? What is it like to be home again after the Spitsbergen experience?

We’ve been thinking of you as we take the Noorderlicht on. We hear lots of stories from the crew – seems you charmed them. They enjoyed having you on the boat a lot. Dan showed me a video of you running into the sea. Ouch, how could you do that? So cold…

We had a rough journey over to Greenland, but Simon, Carol and Emily managed to test salinity and temperature at regular intervals – looking back, I can’t imagine quite how. We encountered huge amounts of sea ice as we approached East Greenland, much more than anticipated. This means that we haven’t been able to get into Scoresby Sund where we had planned to go. Instead, we’ve headed further south into the Denmark Straights and are exploring fjords south of Scoresby and North of Nansen Fjord.

This is one of the least visited areas of Greenland. We sailed into a fjord yesterday that we believe no-one has visited since 1940. As we floated there, we witnessed sea ice form within 10 minutes around us. Simon had been telling us that a very small drop in temperature can result in a sudden freeze but that he had never seen this himself – the text books come alive. Today, we bust a groove in the boat through a LOT of ice to get to a glacier front. Even close up we could hardly see the glacier front through the mist and falling snow. Ice for miles around on every side of the boat and an eery, ghostly silence. People spoke very quietly on deck. What is it about ice and snow that makes people whisper? Or is it more to do with experiencing glacial melt in this truly visceral way?

Anyway, Dan sends love and misses you all. Every time we put on your waterproofs to face the storms we see your names in pen all over them. You are with us in some way!

See you all soon,

(visit the youth voyage pages at

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Land rush

By Amy // Friday 5 Oct // 11:37:38 // View

Speaking to you from the Arctic – LAND RUSH

As we boarded the plane from London to Oslo, on sale in the airport kiosk, Time Magazine’s cover story was dedicated to the new Arctic land rush, consisting of states claims on the seabed; particularly the dropping (deployment) of a titanium flag by Russia (stiffened to fly underwater?), counterclaims, and offhand dismissals by other interested nations. It must be cheaper in some accounting to stake claims by legal loophole. Here, the chance to claim undersea ridges by means of a timely focus on appropriate segments in the Oslo Accord, rather than potentially by more costly, future displays of military posturing and police power.

It’s intriguing to be in the locus of the new undersea land rush. As we approached the coast of Greenland, it was commented on that we were now well within relatively easy reach of rescue services; 45 minutes to a day, compared to potentially 3-4 days at the midpoint of our crossing. That is the condition of the Arctic, inaccessible, but seemingly less so – especially this summer and fall.

As we sailed across the deep trench of the Greenland Sea, Simon plotted our course in pencil on a large map, by way of the water temperature sampling points taken along the transect. Looking at the map, and the relative depths of the ocean floor we were crossing, it was also notable how relatively shallow, and drillable, the North Sea is in relation. Also notable, according to the Wall Street Journal of September 21, 2007, the North Sea’s oil production peaked in 1999.

What is the near future of the Arctic system? What are the coming politics of an ice-free Arctic? In a time when we need less drilling, sea transport, and consumption of fossil fuels, the irony that the rapid loss of sea ice makes all of these easier to achieve in the Arctic is not lost. And while we lack internet access on the Noordelicht, we have had Fulmars and Little Auks to keep us company 24-7 on ice watch, flying unperturbed through Force 9 gales, unaware of the hotting up of this little travelled, but politically desirable landscape.

Note: [ Shipment FER-1346 delivered October 3, 2007 ]

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