Saturday 17 July 2010

The Entrance to the Centre of the Earth

Ours is an exotic adventure.  We begin in Iceland.  A place name that invokes images of geological tempests.   This spring, Eyjafjallajokull volcano (good luck pronouncing it!) shook the earth by causing 100,000 flights to be cancelled by spewing out voluminous, giantic ash clouds.  Jules Verne imbued Iceland with a rugged romantic aura.   On our 45 minute drive from the airport to the dockyards in Reykjavik we could see Snæfellsjökull volcano.   Because of Mr. Verne, everyone knows that the entrance to the centre of the earth lies within Snæfellsjökull.   The Icelandic landscape is rugged and beautiful.  We were graced with perfect weather: sunny blue skies with temperatures hovering around 10˚C.
Upon our arrival to Fram we experienced a very low tide.  So low in fact that we were able to embark on deck five, not our customary deck three!  This meant for a very steep gangway and proposed an interesting challenge for some people on their first experience with the ship!  Soon though we were all on board.
And before long we were whisked through the check-in process and escorted to our cabins. 
At 19:30 we set sail. It could not have been a more beautiful evening!  At 20:30 we all met at our muster stations on deck five for a compulsory fire drill. At 21:00 we joined the ship's officers, some of the crew and the Expedition Team in the Observation lounge for a welcome speach and introductions to some of the ship's key personel.

Now it's 23:33. The sky is still bright. We watched the sun set just 8 minutes ago.  The sea rolls gently along. A little earlier in the evening we had a group of five White-beaked dolphins riding our bow wave. Now, elegant Gannets soar about the ship. Kittiwakes, Arctic Terns and Northern Fulmars are all around. Greenland lies in wait.