Paddles with an Anas acuta...... unashamedly biased toward the sea kayak of that name (actually the voyages of two boats, one 'traffic over gold', one 'quill')

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Greenland- Ice

Ice, ice and more ice, from tiny fragile fragments,
 to apparently small pieces which can never-the-less prove inconvenient for the kayaker.
Once the tide goes out you can see why those little pieces can be hard to navigate!
Then there are the large bergs best viewed from a healthy distance away.

Once they leave the deep fjords the larger bergs often go aground on shallower spots in the highly irregular bottom of the Bay (200-400m deep). They act like mobile islands funnelling or reversing tidal flow, creating their own currents from the volume of cold melt water falling to the sea bed, creating their own micro-climate of fog and cloud. They make prediction of tidal flows next to impossible. Two or three of them side by side create temporary 'land' to affect water flows. On the other hand they break the wind and sea and maintain ice free areas in their lee. The smaller pieces drift on the wind and tide.

When stationary the ice is not too dangerous to navigate, stay away from the big bits, although even a block of a few tens of tons could hurt you as it rolls over or splits up. Then there are the bits of submerged ledges which break off and surface with great force. There is a constant crack of gun shots and rumble of thunder, but seldom close enough to see, just a mysterious swell from time to time. However, a bit of wind and tide soon get it moving. It is simply incredible how quickly conditions can change from an ice free sea to a complete log-jam of ice. Where have all the bits come from? Even more mysteriously a few hours later, or the next morning, and it has all dispersed. Kampe's ice navigation rules:

1. stay away from ice as much as possible or paddle past quickly
2. never paddle over submerged ice ledges, often visible 20 or 50m down as pale shadows.
3. don't start to think that you can predict the stability or behaviour of the ice -you cannot

Once the bigger blocks start eddying around the only thing to do is get off the water as quickly as possible.

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