Posts from Carol Cotterill

Hot springs

By Carol // Tuesday 9 Oct // 13:03:50 // 2 Comments // View



Soaking weary bones and nursing our bruises at the hot springs near Akureyri, enroute to Reykjavik.

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Polar Bears

By Carol // Saturday 6 Oct // 11:35:36 // 2 Comments // View



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Glaciers rock!

By Carol // Wednesday 3 Oct // 19:30:05 // View



As a non-sailor, coming across the Greenland sea was surprisingly exhilarating. Weirdly, the increasing sense of exhilartion appeared to be exponetially linked to a worsening sea state (although my mum will never believe that in a month of sundays!) But now I’m seeing my glacial geomorphology textbooks come to life in a huge, towering, awe-inspiring way.

On the 2nd we went for an afternoon walk on a large moraine complex. One glacier fed into the head of the current fjord, in a north-easterly direction, and yet the east / west orientated striations on virtually all the boulders contained in the moraine suggested that something had come through from a different direction, exerting huge forces that gouged out lines in the solid rock. On climbing up to the top of the ridge I could see another glacier in the far distance, separated from the first one we could clearly see from the boat by a sharp ridge (arete). This glacier has retreated a long way up its valley, and yet with a bit of imagination and going back a few hundreds of years, you could visualise how these two streams of ice would have met, and carved their way out to sea in one massive ice stream. What I had thought to be a lateral moraine would actually have probably been a medial moraine, marking the join between the two glaciers.

On the 3rd we went for an amble in the Nooderlicht. Initially out to investigate a large iceberg, but then through a sound (Sund) round Turner Island. We went into a little inlet part way through the sund in which we were meant to moor last night. Here we saw something I thought I would never see in all my life – snap freezing of the sea within minutes – read Simon’s blog for more detail on this amazing feat of nature.

At the head of this cove was a classic example of a corrie or cirque. This is an amphitheatre shaped depression, usually located high up in the face of a mountain. It acts as an accumulation zone for snow, and will often develop into the head of a glacier. There was no obvious glacier forming in this one, although a trail of snow leading from it suggests that maybe in the past it was a glacial source. Following the snow down from this, there was a sudden drop into a lower valley, where a small glacier was retreating back from the fjord edge. Although not a classic example, this closely resembled a hanging valley, formed when a tributary glacier joins a main ice stream, and is quite literally left hanging when the main ice sheet retreats. What I couldn’t tell from the boat was when this retreat happened – whether or not the retreat has happend recently (on the geological timescale of hundreds of years!) or as part of a natural cycle of advance and retreat.
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Turner Sound bergs

By Carol // Wednesday 3 Oct // 11:45:29 // View




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Clear Arctic Night

By Carol // Wednesday 3 Oct // 01:12:20 // View


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By Carol // Tuesday 2 Oct // 09:12:24 // 2 Comments // View

It was officially the watch from hell this morning…..4 – 6am was possibly the coldest I have ever been. Standing at the helm bouncing up and down as I sang jungle book songs to myself meant my feet stayed just warmer than frozen solid, but did earn a few glances from Barbara, who must have been wondering if I’d finally flipped over the proverbial edge into insanity. We caustiously broke through an ice floe, to be met by another and then a third! Trying to spot the low lying lurking ice was hard, when all you could think of was the nice warm bunk you’d left at 3.40am.

But then 10 minutes after the end of my watch there was a shout that land had been spotted. We’d all been wondering if A) Greenland really existed and B) if we’d ever be allowed to see it by the ever omnipresent ice. It was early early dawn with just a faint blush on the horizon delineating sea from sky, and the land looked like mystical clouds and cliffs floating over the cold grey sea surface. There was no hint then that the constant grey clouds that had acompanied us across the now legendary sea journey would ever lift.

But when I stumbled out of my bunk at about 8am there was a glorious sunrise brewing, casting warm shades of pinks and oranges over the most spectacular scenery I think I have ever seen. We were moored in a fjord, with two huge icebergs floating regally close by. I have never seen such an accumulation of photographers, cameras and film makers along the port side of any boat……I wonder what such a group would be called……maybe a floe would be appropriate.
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The rough, the ridiculous and the glorious

By Carol // Monday 1 Oct // 23:05:57 // View


Yesterday was an interesting day…we attempted to tie a nautical knot on the chart with our ship track. Having got within about 60 miles of Scoresby Sund, we came across the sea ice. The aim was to keep the ice to our starboard side and follow it until we reached its southern most extent, then track west into the Sund.

On the 4-6am watch on the 30th, I was confronted with sailing into a headwind, accompanied by freezing sleet and snow. Iceberg watch was vitally important as we were still doing 8 knots under only the jib straight through the ice field. It was bitterly cold as face, toes and fingers slowly froze. At the end of shift it was decided to take the jib down and hold station until it got light and we could spot the bergs early enough. I staggered up front with Barbara, Kathy and Gert – unfortunately the ropes had frozen and we had to battle to untie them..the jib then came down of its own accord under the weight of ice, showering us with ice and hail. Trying to furl a frozen sheet whilst balancing on a heeling ship in the dark with 2 inches of snow and ice underfoot is…um…entertaining! It really felt like the arctic wanted us out of here – what on earth possessed us to think this was a good idea! And to be honest by the end of the night watches mostof us wanted to get out!

The ice had other ideas! Weaving our way through the floating bergs during daylight, we tracked the ice front..east away from Greenland..north-east back towards Svalbard..finally north-west! Only needed a small westwards track to complete our 80 mile circle! The ice had formed a curved arm that appeared intent on ensnaring us in its grasp!
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The things I do to escape Open Days!

By Carol // Friday 28 Sep // 21:40:56 // 2 Comments // View

Ok this is completely crazy……no one warned me about this! I thought that the Spanish cruise last Oct would be preparation for anything, but this outweighs anything I’ve ever done in the name of work! Pitching about on a roiling sea (roughly sea state 7) at 4am in the morning trying to do a CTD cast (conductivity, temperature and salinity) whilst fighting the ever present sea sickness is certainly a novelty! However, the results we are getting are really good, which kind of makes up for not being able to eat anything for the past 48 hours (see above comment re. sea sickness!)

It’s a very humbling experience being out here in the middle of nowhere on a beautiful schooner attempting to sail between Spitsbergen and Greenland. We reckon that bar a few icebreakers, we are the northerly most ship in the world at the moment – certainly of the sailing variety. Already we have had to alter our course due to the ever changing pattern of sea ice that is currently lying off the east coast of Greenland. Today we were told by our skipper Gert that the is 10-40% ice cover across the entrance to Scoresby Sund, and that it is lying in a 10-20km thick band – the implications are that with the forecast southerly for the next couple of days, we may well be able to get into the Sund when we arrive sometime on Sunday. Click to read the full post >

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