Day 11 |
Jul 22, 2008

At Sea and Jan Mayen

By Claudia Holgate, Environmental Lecturer

Latitude: 710 06’35’’N, 80 30’59’’W

Temperature: 54,10 F / 12.30 C

Weather: Winds up to 60 knots (approx 112km/h) ranging between force 7 and 11 gale, 57% humidity

7:45 am – We were awoken by the Capitan announcing that we had arrived at Jan Mayen and could see Barentsberg Volcano out of the Port side windows, and that if we were not on that side of the ship, it would be worthwhile going to the Observation Lounge to have a look. The volcano was initially just a fog-covered lump, but as we came a little closer, we could actually see that there was a snow-covered mountain with high cloud-covered peaks. This was unfortunately all we were going to see of the little island of Jan Mayen, as the howling gales and crashing seas meant that any thought of landing was absolutely impossible. The winds were blowing at up to 120km/h, and the wave swells were up to 6m high and crashing over the decks. Our little ship, the Prince Albert II was holding up admirably, far better, than many of the guests, who were feeling the effects of being rocked and rolled with such force. We were very disappointed not to be able to get off at Jan Mayen, as it is a very beautiful island. Only about 250 people a year even try and get there, although the weather conditions are often so poor that only a handful actually make it. We had planned to meet up with the meteorologists working on the island, and they were going to give us a talk on the work they were doing. Anyhow, it was not to be. So, our Capitan decided that it was to be full steam ahead towards Iceland where the weather would be much better.

Guests were requested not to go onto open decks as they were wet and very slippery and the crashing waves and rolling ship made being out on deck very dangerous. Even walking inside the ship was treacherous and everyone had to hang on to the railings and walked with a drunken gait.

Many of the guests decided to stay low for the day as lying down was easier than sitting up and hanging on, but for those not affected by the poor weather, there were lectures to be heard.

The first lecture was by our geologist, Juan Carlos, who gave a talk on “Earth, What Lies Below”, where he spoke of basic geological concepts such as different rocks and how they occurred, either through volcanic, sedimentary or metamorphic processes. He also touched on the theory of plate tectonics, which is very relevant to this area, as it falls on the Mid Atlantic ridge and many of the areas we will be visiting are volcanic in origin. We are hoping to see many of the volcanic formations in Iceland, which is called the land of Fire and Ice for a reason.

This lecture was followed by a talk given by Christian, our wonderful Anthropologist from Easter Island, who spoke on Vikings abroad. Christian’s talk was a fascinating intellectual voyage of discovery, during which he discussed the history, reasons and results of the Vikings’ long distance voyages towards Iceland, Greenland and America.

As our planned landing for the afternoon was cancelled, the movie I Am Legend with Will Smith was shown in The Theatre in the afternoon with popcorn provided by the Hotel Department. Alternatively, guests could stay in their suites/staterooms and watch one of the 99 movies on their interactive TVs. Some guests ventured out to the Panorama Lounge and sat and drank tea or played Scrabble.

Although the weather was poor, it was an opportunity to relax and recover from days of outings and landings, to reflect on the good weather and natural wonders we have encountered so far in the trip, and to look forward to the vistas we have yet to see in Iceland.