Day 14 |
Sep 20, 2010

At Sea, en route to Hopedale

By Christian Walter, Historian

Co-ordinates: 56° 59’ N, 60° 03’ W at time of writing (21:25)
Weather: cloudy with blue patches of sky, slight wind during the day

During the night the Prince Albert II had gone east and eventually south on our course to Hopedale. It had been considerably calmer than during the crossing of the Hudson Strait, but one hour had been taken away from us, due to the time change within Canada.

A leisurely breakfast was followed by a short lecture on “Life Between Abundance and Famine” – clearly not referring to life aboard the Prince Albert II. Ha-Jo Spitzenberger, our German biologist, spoke about the land-living animals of the arctic and their adaptation to survive in the harsh conditions of cold climates.

In between lectures Sue was going to talk about a 30 minute documentary filmed for BBC on the Southern Hudson population of Polar Bears from Churchill, Manitoba - the Canadian group on board used The Theatre for a private screening of part of the pictures taken during the early part of our cruise.

“Polar Bears on Thin Ice” – the above-mentioned documentary - was then shown by Sue. The documentary had magnificent footage, as was to be expected, but it is always surprising to hear of the hardship undertaken to be able to take those pictures and films.

The salmon and the Greek lamb lasagna for lunch elicited quite a few comments, but even before lunch could be finished, another unexpected highlight turned up: an iceberg. Robin, our Expedition Leader, announced over the loudspeaker that an iceberg had been spotted, and we were going to have a closer look.

Juan, our Columbian geologist, was standing in front of an empty Theatre, while everyone headed out onto the fore deck, Observation Deck or Bridge deck to have better view of said piece of ice. When first announced it was still 12 miles away, and as the Prince Albert II came closer it turned out to be quite a spectacular iceberg. Juan was later going to tell during recap, that this particular iceberg most probably originated in the Icefjord of Illulisat. The Jacobshavn glacier of the Icefjord is the most productive glacier and the fjord is full of icebergs that eventually will make their way towards the open waters of the Atlantic!

Surprisingly a seal swam around the iceberg and could be seen quite clearly bobbing his/her head out of the water frequently. Captain Golubev maneuvered the Prince Albert II expertly up to and around the iceberg, giving every spectator the best possible views of the giant piece of ice.

Juan’s lecture “Water, the Restless Sea” could finally commence shortly before 3 p.m. Who would have thought that hidden deep within the waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans giant conveyor belts of ocean currents existed?

In between lectures the Panorama Lounge offered an opportunity to sample waffles and other tasty tarts, cakes, cookies or sandwiches. This diversity of snacks was followed by Hans-Peter’s lecture “Bio-Diversity – Counting Life on Earth”. Hans-Peter explained how simple things and animals and their loss through different actions, sometimes involuntarily induced, could cause serious problems for survival of other plants and/or animals – and eventually our own survival!

At 18:30 it was once again time for our Recap & Briefing, and almost all lecturers had topics relating to things seen during the last two days. I had been asked to talk about the Moravian Mission at Hopedale. Interestingly enough, the Herrnhuter community (named after their village in Saxony) had been the first protestant group to send missionaries around the world, and had been very active in Greenland and Labrador. Robin pointed out that a number of things had been arranged to happen in Hopedale, but only once we were ashore would it be possible to ascertain what actually was going to be seen. In any case there would be a walk through the village and a visit to the local museum.

Briefing was followed by dinner, and after dinner there was the opportunity to sample one of the many drinks the Panorama Lounge had to offer, and to listen to the fine music of Perry.