Tuesday, July 10, 2012

SAC: Into uncharted waters

When I got the paper charts for Iceland I had a lot of fun imagining what it would like to sail in those waters.

But there was one feature that caught my eye, a white blankness. It wasn't a glacier but that rare beast, areas that had never been surveyed - literally uncharted waters.

In our world where Google Earth can spin you close up to a mountain in the middle of Antarctica, where an Iridium satellite phone will work from pole to pole and Wikipedia can answer questions you never thought to ask, the unknown has a strange power.

Here be dragons, mermaids, sea monsters or possibly Donald Rumsfeld (shiver).

Some of the uncharted waters were in the Jokulfirdir fjord, just passed the Drangajökull glacier, and we proceeded cautiously towards them, Tristan at the helm (above).

I went to the bow to watch for rocks in the rich green waters below us: while fjords are typically deep there are moraines, which is where the glacier dumped its rocks. These shallows can represent a bar preventing ships from travelling further up, and indeed we spotted the depth of water under the keel drop to 4.5m for a while before returning to a more typical 20m.

Maybe we should have spent the afternoon there, criss-crossing, taking bearings and depths - which is no doubt what a Captain Cook would have done - but instead we documented our explorations the modern way.

Using the iNavX software running on the iPhone and iPad I recorded our track for posterity:
Then Tristan handed the tiller to me and I helmed us out, back into the well mapped modern world, and a debate as to whose watch it was next.

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