Thursday, June 23, 2005
Arrived early in the morning at Keflavik, Iceland's international airport. After collecting all 10 pieces of checked baggage, we boarded a bus for Reykjavik. The 50 km drive took us along the barren volcanic landscape of the Reykjanes peninsula. Our destination was the domestic airport in Reykjavik, but first we were supposed to change to a smaller bus at the central terminal. When we got there, the driver remembered that we had an enormous amount of baggage, so he decided he had better drive us all the way to the airport himself.
We spent the day exploring downtown Reykjavik, before checking in for our late afternoon flight to Isafjordur in northwest Iceland. A bumpy descent through the fjord brought us to the small fishing town, with its single airport taxi. It took a couple of trips, but eventually we transported everything the short distance to the harbor where our home for the next few weeks, Arctic Sunrise, was at berth. We arrived just in time for dinner.
Safjordur, Iceland/At sea, Denmark StraitAfter breakfast, we went for a walk through the sleepy downtown of Isafjordur. Not much seemed to be happening, except for a troop of high school kids in reflective vests doing landscaping work by the side of the main road out of town. Actually, most of them were lying down eating chocolate, but it looked like they might be about to start work again. Arctic Sunrise cast off at 12:00 noon and glided slowly out of the protected harbor and into the fjord. Stormy conditions were forecast, but luckily the waves were on our stern so the ship did not pitch and roll too much. We crossed the Arctic Circle about 4:00PM.
At sea, Denmark Strait
During the night, the ship had to alter course because the edge of the sea ice was enountered in foggy conditions. Rather than attempt to push through the pack in poor visibility, the watch officer chose to sail east along the southern edge until conditions improved. Turning the ship into the swells made for a noticeably rougher ride, but by morning we had resumed our northerly track and the sea had subsided. We continued to sail north east in clouds and wind for the rest of the day.
At sea, Denmark Strait
We reached the edge of the pack ice just after lunch. We were about 150 miles east of Greenland and about 60 miles north of the entrance to Scoresby Sund, our destination. By entering the pack at this position and sailing west, the ship can take advantage of the south flowing ocean current that opens leads through the ice. Several seals were spotted on ice floes or swimming in front of the ship. There are also thousands of gulliemot chicks out here, presumably having just arrived at their summer feeding grounds. The leads have started to become narrower in the last couple of hours, but forward progress is still good. We expect there will be a lot of bumping and grinding during the night as the ship breaks an occasional channel between leads, but by morning we should have Scoresby Sund in sight.