Day 4 |
Sep 11, 2013

Illulisat, Greenland

By Stefan Kredel, Geologist

Co-ordinates: S 69º18', W 51º28'
Weather: Overcast with a bit of rain
Air Temperature: 2.5ºC, 36ºF
Pressure: 985 hPa
Wind: 10 knots in the early morning, increasing throughout the whole day

I got up at 06:30 and went to the Observation Lounge for my first coffee at the Early Riser’s Breakfast. I saw already a lot of ice outside. Not that surprising, as we were meant to be at the most productive glacier of the northern hemisphere, the ice fjord at Illulisat. But the surprising part was that on the one side was no ice at all, and on the other side it was packed full with ice, truly an ice belt. Apparently this ice belt was in front of Illulisat, today’s destination.

It was obvious that we wouldn’t be able to go through that. Even though we have the highest ice class, there was too much ice around all the huge ice bergs. And there were still 8 nautical miles from Silver Explorer to the port.

So Kara had to come up with a new plan. She got in contact with our local tour operator and they were saying that they could come out to our ship with their local boats. Part of today’s activity was a boat tour along those icebergs. So, that would bring at least part of the plan to reality. They were assuming that it would take them about 2 hours before they could be at our ship.

So we waited for those boats, and after a good hour we could see them getting slowly through the ice coming towards the ship. But the wind had picked up, and once the boats were close to the vessel, we had 30 knots of wind and quite a swell had been built up. It was not possible to get our guests safely from Silver Explorer into those boats.
So we had to cancel our call in Illulisat.

As Kara and the Captain looked for an alternative, I was asked about Queqertarsuaq, a place I have been a few times before. It is a nice little settlement on the south side of Disko Island. There is a small museum, an outpost from the University of Copenhagen and a good hike into the valley of the winds. So there was literally something for everyone. It also looked decent for the direction of the wind and swell. So we set our sails towards our new destination.

Meanwhile, we had two talks in the morning. The first one was our on board photographer Richard Sidey. He now had a chance to give his talk from yesterday, which had to be cancelled due to whale sightings. According to him, it was “a very good lecture”.
Afterwards, still before lunch, one of our onboard Ornithologists had a chance to talk. The talk, “Introduction to Arctic Birds,” was mainly about sea gulls, as I heard later.

Lunch was nice, as always! But I could feel that the vessel started to move a bit more. And as we approached the vicinity of Queqertarsuaq, it became clear that we wouldn’t be able to land here either. There was too much swell, which was quite a surprise and unexpected due to the forecasts the crew had looked at.

At least we could have a nice view of some ice bergs before finally setting the course for Nuuk, our destination for the day after tomorrow.

During the afternoon the sea became quite bumpy, and for a while even the outer decks were closed. I didn’t go to the movie they showed before tea time. But I met a handful of guests at tea time. There weren’t many of us, but we enjoyed Lou playing the piano in not-so-easy conditions. Some waves rose above 7 metres.

I stayed with some guests in the Panorama Lounge while Colleen had some guests in the theatre for her talk about Vikings. But I am sure lots of our guests enjoyed listening to her talk from their suites.

At Recap, not too many guests showed up. But due to the ship’s movement, it was also broadcast to the suites.

At dinner I didn’t see too many guests …
But the forecast for tomorrow looks much better! Let’s hope for it!