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July 25 - Qaqortoq - Greenland

Update (25th July 2004)

Noon Position : lat 59° 35.2' N, long 38° 35.2' W
Air temperature @ noon today : 10.8°C
Sea temperature @ noon today : 10.2°C

The JCR this Week, in brief

This evening you find us ploughing through some heavy weather with the winds gusting up to fifty knots at times. Though a very considerate scientific course has meant that the ship hasn't rolled more than twenty degrees, yet! The week has seen us visit Qaqortoq in Greenland to exchange scientific parties, transit the fjords of Southern Greenland and start our scientific programmes in the Irminger Sea. If your atlas doesn't show it; it's off the south eastern coast of Greenland below the Denmark Strait.

Qaqortoq, Greenland.

Wednesday afternoon saw our arrival at anchor off Qaqortoq on the west coast of Greenland. Qaqortoq means "white" in the native tongue and is apparently pronounced (ka-kor-tok), though does appear on many maps under another name, that of Julianehåb. It is apparently Southern Greenland's big city or hub and is home to some three thousand people and was founded in 1775. It was this official founding that supplied the alternative name, it being named after Queen Juliane Marie of Denmark.

The town is made up of brightly coloured houses which cover the hillside above the harbour and historic district. The bright colours were much appreciated when we arrived as the town was covered in low cloud and pouring rain. The rain stopped in the late afternoon, but the low cloud persisted. However, Thursday couldn't have been more different with glorious sunshine which can be seen (below) in Doug Willis' panorama of the town.

Panorarma of Qaqortoq, Greenland by Doug Willis.

Panorama of Qaqortoq, Greenland by Doug Willis.

Some of the pictures below aren't quite that bright, they were taken on the previous day in the rain. The left hand one shows some of the old buildings around the Torvet or town square, with the centre one showing the fountain at its heart. This is reputed to be the first in Greenland having been erected in 1928. The right hand picture shows the view up the hill from the harbour were we landed.

Historic Buildings of the town square (Torvet). Click to enlarge.

Historic Buildings of the town square (Torvet). Click to enlarge

The Torvet Fountain. Click to enlarge.

The Torvet Fountain. Click to enlarge

Qaqortoq from the harbour. Click to enlarge.

Qaqortoq from the harbour.Click to enlarge

One thing you do notice as you walk around the town are the sculptures and carvings in the rock. These are all part of the Stone & Man project. The idea was to turn the town into an outdoor gallery and was dreamt up by a Greenland artist called Aka Høegh. Below are some of the examples we discovered whilst in town, unfortunately I don't have the official guide and so cannot tell you any hidden meanings, so click to enlarge them and we'll leave you to make up your own minds as to what they each mean.

The door to where?. Click to enlarge. A seal or a polar bear?. Click to enlarge. Fish for tea?. Click to enlarge.

However, this wouldn't be BAS if someone didn't go exploring, no matter what the weather! So below we have the intrepid explorers having conquered the heights behind the town. In the foreground we have Peter Koski (left), Emma "the Doc" Wilson (right), Courtney Barber immediately behind and in the background we have Jim Fox (left) and George Tupper (hiding).

The hardy mountain climbers. Click to enlarge.

The Fjords of Southern Greenland

Thursday afternoon saw our departure from Qaqortoq heading south towards the bottom of Greenland. The work area for this cruise is along the eastern coast and so we took the opportunity to cut off the corner and travelled through the fjords around Prins Christian Sund allowing us to avoid some ice on the southern tip at Kap Farvel (or Cape Farewell). It also provided some impressive scenery, which is always appreciated. Unfortunately the damp cloudy weather had returned for the passage, so we could only imagine how spectacular it would be on a clear day as it tempted us to glimpses of peaks through the mist and waterfall cascading from the cloud base.

The way forward. Click to enlarge. The chart shows part of our route. Click to enlarge. The way back. Click to enlarge.

The pictures are some images of the passage through giving you some impression of the views and the weather. The chart (centre) shows an area called Qornoq, which is the narrowest section of the passage being about 350 metres wide. Our departure from this feature can be seen in the right hand picture. We can only hope that science will bring us here again and than we will be treated to better weather.

And so to Science.

Welcome to JR105 and the Irminger Sea cruise from Qaqortoq to Reykjavik. This cruise is a little different for the ship in that it's the first cruise where we've been hired solely by an overseas group of scientists, in this case Bob Pickart and his team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in the USA. During the coming weeks we'll be doing mostly CTD operations i.e. physical oceanography and water sampling, but first there was a matter of a few buoys.

Two to launch and, hopefully, two to pick-up. The first to go, on Saturday morning, was the Tupper Experimental Station (TEST). This was something new to us as it is a meteorology measuring station and hence designed to stay on the surface. If the mooring is successful it could be the first of a bigger project in a few years time, so we will wait and see. Below left we can see George Tupper next to the 3m diameter TEST buoy. The moorings we generally deploy come in two main types. These are a single buoy which houses the instruments, this is then anchored by line to the sea bed. The length of anchor line then maintains the buoy at a certain depth in the water column or in the case of TEST it has enough slack to float on the surface in a given area. The other type of moorings are like the one we deployed on Sunday called Ultramoor. These have a subsurface top float to keep the mooring vertical and a whole string of instruments suspended at known depths below it. One such instrument can be seen being attached in the bottom right picture.

George Tupper with TEST just before launch.Click to enlarge

George Tupper with TEST just before launch.

Brian Hogue checks the links while Scott Worrilow supervises. Click to enlarge.

Brian Hogue checks the links while Scott Worrilow supervises.

Peter Koski trying to escape the winch controls... Click to enlarge.

Peter Koski trying to escape the winch controls...

Chris Lumpkin paying the mooring rope out slowly. Click to enlarge.

Chris Lumpkin paying the mooring rope out slowly.

Brian Hogue and George Stewart (Bosun) attach an instrument to the Ultramooring. Click to enlarge.

Brian Hogue and George Stewart (Bosun) attach an instrument to the Ultramooring.

The centre picture shows Peter Koski ensconsed behind the winch driver's safety screen, although some said it was to keep Peter in, we cannot comment! The wires and ropes for the mooring are wound on to the winch in the correct order, which was bottom wires first on these deployments. This allows the mooring to be paid out behind the ship and then the anchor is deployed last at the correct spot. This is used when the winch can accommodate all the wire, which it couldn't in the case of the TEST mooring as it used a larger diameter rope. This rope can be seen being paid out under control around the 'H' bit by Chris Lumpkin in the lower left picture.

We have now collected one mooring and deployed two, which leaves just one to recover. Then the weather intervened. Once it calms down we'll have to see what happens. Tune in next week.

People of the week.

The nominations for men of the week have to go to Derek the launchman Jenkins and Marc Bins Blaby for their sterling work during our Qaqortoq visiting running the shore taxi, otherwise know as the cargo tender - Thanks Chaps!

. Click to enlarge. . Click to enlarge.

Obviously before we get into trouble we shouldn't forget to thank the rest of the deck crew for manning the lines and ladder during each return to the ship.

And Finally.

We mentioned earlier a slight change in the weather and earlier the wind was blowing up to fifty knots. The picture below shows the CTD gantry and the waves shortly before we finished work.

Science almost never stops. Click to enlarge. The CTD all at sea...Click to enlarge

Once the CTD was completed we went to see how the TEST buoy was surviving its first storm It's in the picture below, can you see it? Clicking to enlarge it might help.

Wheres the buoy?...Click to enlarge Where's the buoy?...Click to enlarge


During the next week the weather will hopefully improve and then its on with the science.....