Saturday 20 August 2011

Recherche Glacier

Wing of a Black-legged Kittiwake

More wind.  As has been said many times before in this blog, we don’t mind rain and we don’t mind snow. Cold temperatures are of little concern but wind, wind is not our friend.  We can land if it is raining or snowing but we can’t go on shore in high winds.  Guess what we had today? Yup.  High winds all day long.  Wind creates high seas which can make it very difficult to operate Polar Cirkel boats safely.  The little boats can handle pretty big seas but things become very, shall we say, challenging at the tender pit.  Then there would be big surf on shore.  It’s not at lot of fun getting people in and out of the boats in surf.  And then there would be the wet ride to and from shore.  Not exactly heaps of fun either.  So, sometimes like today, it is an easy call to abort a landing.  This was the second time we were blown out of Vårsolbukta in Bellsund.  We quickly realized that our planned afternoon landing at Bamsebu in Bellsund would not work either due to the direction of the wind.Plan C:  we would attempt a landing at Recherche Fjord and Recherche Glacier.  Looking at the charts it seemed very likely that this would be a sheltered spot.
As we turned into the eight kilometre long fjord, we could immediately see that this was indeed a protected site from the strong winds.
Deep inside Recherche Fjord, the sea was nearly flat calm. There was an excellent anchorage very close to a large, flat, sandy moraine area which had been left by the receding glacier.  Between the sand flats and the glacier there was a large glacial lagoon running the length of the glacier.
Since the region was so flat, the Expedition Team were able to spread out giving everyone a huge area to explore. On the west side of the landing site were beautiful tall cliffs with nesting Kittiwakes.  The moraine flats were a perfect area to do some animal tracking.  There were tracks of Reindeer, Gulls, Arctic Fox and Polar Bears everywhere, including dinner-plate sized paw prints from a rather large bear.
Like yesterday, it was hard to imagine that the previously planned landing sites would have been better than this. 
We were all back on the ship by 14:00 which left lots of time for a couple of lectures. 
While the winds continued to blow hard, it was not uncomfortable back on board Fram.  For the most part, the seas were catching us on our stern quarter just enough to imbue the ship with a pleasant lazy roll.