Monday, July 31, 2006

Ililussat, Greenland III

With my scuba gear in the boat, I’m seriously overloaded and make even slower progress than normal across the bay, plodding along at five or six knots. I scout for bergs close to shore, since diving out of the boat and not being able to get back in would be a very bad thing.

I pull onto shore, unload and start gearing up. Encased in my dry suit, insulation, thick neoprene, scuba weights and tank, I struggle to my feet and waddle into the shallows. No one’s in sight, and I try to tell myself that it will all be fine. What could possibly go wrong? I take what solace I can in the notion that no matter what bad thing happens, it won’t take more than three or four minutes to kill me.

Once the initial ice cream headache passes, it’s kind of cool to see what these things look like underwater. Under the vast river of ice flowing out from the glacier, there's also a huge flow of very cold fresh water, running in a strong current through and under the maze of bergs. As soon as I got in the water, it began sweeping me away. I had to kick hard or grab hold of the ice just to stay in place. Making progress against it was nearly impossible. Silt in the water left poor visibility. I dived down 15 meters to the bottom, threadbare kelp and a scoured ocean floor from the regular passage of bergs.

The only sign of life was a lone jellyfish, swept past me on the current. I could almost hear him thinking, what the hell was that?

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