Foundation II - Day Four
Rutting, Sampling and Sailing
This morning we were splitting the team, again. I wanted to see the effect of the muddy water on the sea profile and so Lukas and I went north, well into Mudderbukta, in the rib until we were opposite the major run-off from the red sandstone mountains. The depth was supposed to be 40 metres, according to the chart. But I lowered the CTD over the side of the rib and at 15 metres it bottomed out and hit the silt. On recovering the instrument, the very fine silt had engulfed the sensing areas. After a good wash in sea water, I then redeployed the CTD but this time to just 12 metres and carefully looked at the results to make sure that the sensors were still functioning properly.
With that confirmed, we made a beeline towards to Linden stopping every 150 metres on route to sample the column. We increased the depth as we got further from the turbid red muddy water. We managed 12 samples at 40 metres before we reached Linden – a good productive morning sampling! By the time we reached Linden we both needed a hot drink to get our circulation going again (it had begun to get chilly) and a well-earned comfort break and then we were straight out on the rib again to survey the seabed to see if we could forge a route south of the island and back to Ekmanfjord. The seas began to get rough as the wind picked up and we were quite wet by the time we had finished. This would have saved us some 40 minutes travelling north around the island but with two distinctly shallow rocks waiting to catch vessels out, Rasmus decided not to risk it.
Meanwhile, the rest of the OW crew, looked after by Ian and his rifle, went ashore to Coraholmen Island, an island of two halves. 10,000 odd years ago before the last mini-ice age Coraholmen was a low lying, green tundra, flat island until Sefströmnbreen advanced and covered half of it. As it rapidly and considerably retreated in the 19 century it left an almost perfect division between a classic glacial moraine on the west side and the original lush tundra with pools of water on the east.
Their first wildlife encounter was a pure white fox rapidly moving from hillock to hillock and then suddenly curling up to relax. Purple Sandpipers were all along the shore which was covered with coral fossils and Arctic Petrels and Arctic Terns were ever-present, off-shore.
It was by all accounts quite a magical experience with two of three reindeer rutting and posing on the way back to meet the rib, almost following the party.
A fab lunch was had by all (losing weight was not an option and Louisa had home-made baked beans – especially for me, of course) and because the wind had picked up we all got too, putting the sails up, once we were around Kapp Waern and heading east towards Billefjorden. (You may have thought I was referring to a different type of wind but that came later!).
Start: Mudderbukta 78.68º N 14.79º E
Finish: Skansbukta 78.52º N 16.03º E