August 17, 2014
One of the “must do” things for any cruiser traveling to Greenland is to get some photos of your boat with an iceberg. But getting that incredible shot is easier said than done! We’ve been very fortunate to get some great shots of both Shear Madness and Migration posing with icebergs. But how have we done it?
First you have to find a suitable iceberg that is willing to pose with you. That means it needs to be photogenic, reasonably stable (ie, not ready to overturn or calve imminently), properly positioned for the light conditions, and not too far out of your way. As we cruise in company with Migration, we maintain VHF radio communications on an agreed to channel and discuss all matter of things – our route, upcoming hazards, whale alerts, dinner menus, tech support questions, comparing reading from various instruments, and much more. Periodically one of the other of us will call “Photo op!” and point out a likely candidate. That leads to a discussion about how far away it is, how a diversion will affect our arrival time at our destination, whether it is truly “worthy”, and how we would best get some great photos.
It’s really important to have two boats. One can position and pose while the other takes photos. Then positions can be reversed. As the icebergs must be approached very slowly and carefully, this of course takes time. We start with a broad plan of action, then one boat gets into position while the other guides it to the best spot for photos. When done, we switch positions and repeat the process.
We did this successfully several times prior to Migration’s guest, Steve, joining them. Steve is a serious photographer and on our trip from Christianshab to Rodebay we spotted a perfect photo op – a large iceberg with a see-through window which would allow one boat to shoot photos of the other boat position on the other side. Shear Madness moved into position while Steve shot photos using his various cameras and lenses. Then it was Migration’s turn. The only problem is that we do not have the same quality equipment on Shear Madness, so in order to get the same great photos of Migration, we needed to transfer Steve from Migration to Shear Madness. Not a problem!
We decided to proceed away from the berg where we had maneuvering room, then hold Shear Madness in place while Migration, using her stern cameras, backed up to our stern, allowing Steve to step off of Migration’s swim platform and onto ours. This was accomplished without incident as both George and Bradley are masterful drivers and the sea conditions were quite benign.
Soon Migration was positioned and Steve got some equally wonderful photos of her. He stayed aboard Shear Madness for the rest of the trip until we reached our anchorage where we planned to launch a tender. But upon reaching the anchorage, the winds had picked up to 20+ knots, making the tender launch a real challenge – envision even a small tender suspended from a crane in strong winds swinging like a pendulum! So we decided to put Steve back on Migration the same way he had got off – with a stern-to-stern transfer. First we dropped and secured our anchor, then Bradley used our stern thrusters to hold her in place as George backed Migration up to our stern – a bit more of a challenge with the winds – but still easily achieved. When the sterns were nearly touching, Steve stepped easily aboard and Migration pulled away to drop their anchor. The only problem was that we would have to wait until morning to see the photos Steve had captured! As it turns out, they were worth the wait!
The photos posted with this update are not high resolution due to limited bandwidth. Better photos will be posted later when we are back in high-bandwidth territory!
Click any photo to enlarge.