Monday, 2 June 2008

McQ: Land Ahoy!!! There be Gareloi!!!

After 53(??) days at sea, and a bit of a slog for some of that we sighted Gareloi Volcano. And am quite glad to have missed the thin grey strip of Amchitka Island and the craggy rocks of Unalga in the mist the morning for my first land to be this Island... Alex called me up on deck and there abeam of us to port, a couple of miles away is this magnificent island rising out of the sea in classic volcano format!!! Various first sightings of land have been memorable: Table Mountain, Mount Fiji, but this was something else. Absolutely breathtaking- leaving Sydney 50 odd days ago in sunshine, tropics, misty foggy grey days with no sun for the past week or so and the sun had glimpsed through the mist at the end of my previous watch and by the time we got to gareloi it had burnt off enough fog to see the whole side of the island and the top, between the clouds, was bathed in sunshine and streaks oof proper blue sky above!! Awesome. I suppose I hadn't reallythought about what the first land we would see would look like but I guess after all that time in the heat for a big snowy lump to rise out of the mist was somewhat unexpected- yes, snow!!! Infact the whole thing a geographers dream: layers of black rock, some erosion by wind and rain making relatively gentle slope in to the sea, some sections more vertical, where the waves must have eaten away great chunks of cliff, and then above the black rock the whole slopes are covered in a uniform pale khaki green, AW suggested some sor tof lichen but impossible to tell from out here, a very mossy colour anyway. Green, I find one of the strangest things when I reach land- sure, the sea has its green moments, but not like land green, after going so long without seeing proper, jealous, grassy green, it always seems such an incredibly vivid colour. I think it takes my brain a few days to adjust to processing this, (and brightly coloured flowers too) mental. So green holds this crazy fascination, even pale mossy green, after such a long time at sea. And atop the green bit, rising towards the volcano peak was bright white snow cap, with thin slivers of icy snow reaching down towards the sea (though probably bit thick drifts, if you were standing on the mountain side!!) The very top not quite visible, instead the top third all blending and melting into the clouds with the occasional rocky bit to identify between island and cloud!! Really, truly amazing sight. and as much as I love my wee Olympus, I wish I had my real camera... I think this and all the different birds swirling around us are the first real indication that a proper camera will be sorely missed (though those folk who've had to sit through any of my slide shows are probably mighty relieved!!!) Anyway, we had a nice lift round the SE corner and now we are out into the middle of the gap between Gareloi and the next island we are being fully headed so should prob go chat to Kevvo.
Hope everyone good and happy too.
Lots of love
Cor McQ