Saturday July 29th, 2011
North Atlantic- Denmark Strait down to Southern tip of Greenland
Latitude 59 degrees 43 minutes’ north- Longitude 42 degrees 38 minutes’ west
Thursday we left the western coast of Iceland and headed into what is known as the Denmark Strait. It is not really close to Denmark itself, but it does lie between the distant possessions of Denmark; which are Greenland and the now independent country of Iceland. This lonely stretch of ocean was the location of the famous WWII sea battle between the HMS Hood and the huge German warship the Bismarck. This resulted in the HMS Hood being sunk and it lies on the bottom almost right below where we cruised. We have spent the last several days altering our planned course to avoid storms. We cruised along the entire Northern coastline of Iceland to sidestep a large low pressure cell which was sitting just off the southern coast. This was a really nice detour since we had been scheduled to cruise along the south side of Iceland. By going along the very scenic North side we actually crossed above the Arctic Circle. Thus we both received certificates that we are now
members of the honorable “Poli Arctici” or Order of Bluenoses from Princess. We really enjoyed the relaxed and uncrowded feel of Iceland, even though it rained for most of our visit there. It seems so unspoiled and would probably be a wonderful place to rent a car and drive all over if you could just get a stretch of warm sunny days.
The weather so far on this cruise has not been the best, but today we awoke to a bright sunny day. We are now off the southern coast of Greenland and it is truly beautiful. There is so much floating ice along the shoreline that our planned transit of the Prins Christian Sound has been cancelled. The entrance into the Fjord was completely blocked by huge icebergs and lots of smaller chunks of pack ice. We are going to stay offshore and pass outside the ice flow on our way to Qaqortog, Greenland instead. This morning there have been numerous sightings of whales, orcas and dolphins so there is still plenty to see as we round the southern tip of Greenland. The Arctic is so clear and clean feeling and we are only now realizing just how vast
of an area it covers. Greenland is the largest island in the world, but it only has 56 thousand inhabitants. Of course most of that island is completely covered by snow and ice in the winter. So, it is very deceptive as we gaze out at the beautiful snowcapped peaks with lush green valleys, on this warm and sunny summer day. We must remember that this is actually a vast frozen wilderness most of the year and not all that hospitable. When Erik the Red settled here in the late 900’s it was actually during a much warmer period in the earth’s climate. His descendants lived in Greenland in relative prosperity for over four hundred years before a mini ice age in the 1300’s led to their demise. It was only after Columbus’s voyage in 1492 that Europeans decided to make another try at settlement in the Americas. Who knows, maybe this latest warming trend the earth is experiencing will lead to the further development of Greenland in another 100 years.
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