Friday, September 06, 2013

Magical night with northern lights

For the last night at sea my watch was 9 pm until midnight and it was jolly cold. We'd got south enough for it to get dark, just below the Arctic Circle at 65.5N, and it was a clear, star filled night.

Now we were motoring the main duty on watch was keeping an eagle eye out for ice, and it wasn't easy. Ok, some big 'bergs were pretty obvious as they reflect like the White Cliffs of Dover:
Smaller bits are however harder to spot and some become translucent, vanishing into the waves. A couple of times we had to slow down to get through flows of bergy bits spored by an island of ice.

It was hard work and I was looking forward to my warm bunk when it was decided to keep going and do a second watch as we'd be anchoring soon.

We were rewarded for this effort by a mini-display of the northern lights (top pic) which rather remarkably were to the south of us, but that's Greenland for you. They only went for a few minutes but we'd definitely seen them.

It ended up being rather a magical night, a harsh beauty of stars, shooting stars, Iridium satellite flares and what looked to me like noctilucent clouds:
For the first time since Iceland we saw some flashing lights marking out a channel guiding us toward the narrow entrance into Tasiilaq fjord.

Then in the dim light of what was now early morning could make out the town, a jumble of coloured wooden houses clustered around a little hill:
The anchor went down with a splash and rattle of chain: we had arrived and I could head down to my bunk and rest.


Anonymous said...

that's a beautiful view of a 'berg

JP said...

The colour bands behind the berg were amazing (no photoshop here)!

It was a good night for large 'bergs as they stood out in a dramatic way. There was one that sticks in my mind that looked like a battleship on its side, but another aground at the middle of the entrance to Tasiilaq fjord.