In Search of Iceberg Alley’s Spectacular Show

“I never trust the mind of an iceberg,” Cecil Stockley told me. He estimates its length and multiplies it by his 5 to keep the boat at least that distance away.

Dave Boyd said his safety rules depend on the type of iceberg he handles. “Tables are generally pretty calm,” Boyd said while floating off the coast of Newfoundland, referring to icebergs with steep sides and large flat tops. “But pinnacles, tall icebergs with one or more spires, can be real beasts.”

Barry Rogers isn’t just looking at icebergs. He hears it too. When the usual Rice Krispie-like bubbling noise is replaced by the sizzling sound of a frying pan, it could be an iceberg tumbling down or about to crack, he explained. Another clue, he says, is when flocks of seabirds perched on the ice suddenly slough off en masse. They can feel the trembling that Mr. Rogers listens intently to.

“In any event, if that’s what’s happening, it’s time to get out of Dodge completely,” he said.

Mr. Stockley, Mr. Boyd and Mr. Rogers, all captains of tour boat companies searching for giant ice and snow masses on the waterside’s nickname Iceberg Alley, have combined more than 100 years of experience. It winds along the east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s easternmost province. Icebergs detaching from Greenland’s massive ice sheet pass by here each spring on their slow-motion journey south into the open waters of the North Atlantic.

In 1912, such an iceberg struck the Titanic on its starboard side during its maiden transatlantic voyage. Over the years, many others have done less damage to ships, oil rigs, and even the occasional hapless or reckless kayaker.

But most of these icebergs melt as they migrate south into warmer waters, colliding with nothing before disappearing into the ocean.

In doing so, it creates a truly spectacular show. An eerie milky display of gigantic icebergs – some looming like lofty mesas, others towering like the Matterhorn – is doomed to decay.

During my meandering trip from the state capital, St. Johns, to the Avalon Peninsula (southeast) in May, I saw these mesmerizing sights while boating, standing on the shore, or staring out the window of a descending plane. I saw dozens of icebergs. All the way to Twillingate, a charming coastal island in north-central Newfoundland that calls itself the ‘Iceberg Capital of the World’.

Twillingate has competitors for its mantle, but I can’t think of a better place on Earth to learn about icebergs. It’s a great place to learn about why icebergs form, why their colors change, and how they migrate and disappear. For example, it’s interesting to think that the mountains in front of you today started as snowfall thousands of years ago. And there seems to be an infinite number of ways to classify icebergs according to their type, composition, color, size, and the various influences of wind, waves, and sun that shape their shape.

Or an educational exhibit about icebergs at a local lighthouse, described as “each one is a unique individual.”

At Twillingate, this enthusiast’s appreciation of the exact features of icebergs and the annual maritime parade of moving masses of snow and ice that can reach the size of Lower Manhattan is gained. A certain kind of casual feeling coexists.

Admittedly, most icebergs here are smaller than that, about the size of Fenway Park, for example. And there are many smaller pieces of ice the size of grand pianos that aren’t even officially icebergs. (These are known as “burgee bits” and “growlers.”)

But then, in 2010, a block of ice broke off from the Petermann Glacier in northwest Greenland and drifted south over Newfoundland, becoming the largest iceberg recorded in the last 60 years. At 97 square miles, it was more than four times that size. all of Manhattan.

And believe it or not, the Peterman Iceberg is a mere pittance compared to the largest iceberg ever reliably measured by satellite, which broke off from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf in March 2000. was. According to National Snow and Data, the iceberg was about the size of Connecticut. ice data center.

Since 2017, I have wanted to visit Iceberg Alley. Then, next to the small fishing village of Ferryland, he found a wonderful photo of an iceberg as high as a 15-story building that she spent an hour landing on the beach. South of St. John’s.

The brightly painted houses along the shore looked like dollhouses compared to the huge walls of snow that covered the place. I found it fascinating that the people who live there can watch the show while having their morning coffee on the deck.

In a way, my journey began long before I arrived in this state.the sucker autumn leaves map An indication of where the peak colors are in my hometown of New England, I was obsessed with the peak of spring color. icebergfinder.com. The website does exactly what the name suggests, allowing Iceberg Alley fans to post rousing comments and dramatic photos in the same way others do about sunsets and birds. It’s the place.

Speaking of birds, Newfoundland is home to a mind-boggling number of birds at this time of year, with one species alone home to about 500,000 Atlantic puffins. In addition, it contains one of the highest concentrations of migratory humpback whales seen anywhere. Along with icebergs, birds and whales make up the three camera-friendly highlights of the state, and he’s usually on display from about mid-May to the end of June.

In fact, you could even make this a quadfecta and feature history’s most famous iceberg victim: the Titanic. The Titanic now lies dormant hundreds of miles southeast of Newfoundland at a depth of about 12,500 feet. However, to do that she would need to raise $250,000 in ponies. This is the cost of her nine-day voyage on the research vessel. Oceangate Expeditions.

In St. John’s, I met a fellow Seattleite named Stockton Rush, the founder of Oceangate. He proudly showed off the 23-foot-long Titan, a carbon fiber and titanium submarine he uses to bring ships and his mission specialists (i.e., customers) out to sea. We spent five hours on the ocean floor exploring the sunken passenger ship and her huge rubble area.

I admire Stockton’s passion, but he didn’t have the necessary funding to become a mission specialist. For a fairly cheap fare of about $75, I instead stayed above the waterline and went looking for icebergs aboard a 63-foot vessel owned by a company named . iceberg quest. Captain Barry Rogers, using the multiplication of five formula to keep him away from icebergs, provided a constant narration during the two-hour round-trip tour to Cape Spear, a piece of land that happens to stick out. easternmost point of North America.

I learned a lot from Mr. Rogers, a jovial bearded man as white as an iceberg, but it wasn’t just about the iceberg. He also wrote a history of Newfoundland and the hotly contested vote leading to the 1949 Union, or, in his words, “our decision to allow Canada to join Newfoundland.” He is also an acquaintance of

Like other captains I’ve met, Rogers turned to iceberg tours after the state’s once-legendary fishing industry collapsed. Industrial-scale overfishing in the Grand Banks depleted cod stocks, and a moratorium in 1992 put thousands of Newfoundland fishermen out of work.

There were many culprits in this disaster, and you can still hear them poignantly apportioned today, but the state is also working to promote tourism, and Iceberg Alley is one of its main attractions. is one of Getting to Newfoundland isn’t easy or cheap, but it’s much easier and cheaper than going to Antarctica, another place on Earth where you’re guaranteed to find tons of giant icebergs.

I found the people of Newfoundland to be friendly, funny and outspoken, albeit a bit stubborn. They even claim their own time zone, 30 minutes ahead of the same province of Labrador and other parts of Atlantic Canada. Closer to Galway on Ireland’s west coast than Winnipeg, many Newfoundlanders still have accents that trace their Irish and English ancestry to the area.

At Twillingate I made a deal with Mr. Boyd. He piloted a 28-foot-long, 12-passenger aluminum boat named the Silver Bullet, and deftly maneuvered it far enough to see the turquoise bottom of a flat iceberg. The white mass above the water, woven with lines of rich royal blue color, was essentially a narrow channel cut by the melted water. (Some algae-rich icebergs have similar channels and hunt the globe like giant green-striped peppermints, but most icebergs have a blue tint.)

BTW, this is the perfect place to include a warning that what I’ve seen is just the tip of the iceberg. And sorry, I don’t have a more creative way to say it. That’s why I waited. .

Normally, what you and I see in an iceberg above water is only 10 to 12 percent of its total mass, says ice expert at Memorial University of Newfoundland and author of the super definitive book. explains Stephen E. Bruneau, “A Field Guide to the Icebergs of Newfoundland and Labrador”

Bruneau has advised companies on how to tow lasso and icebergs to avoid hitting oil rigs and fishing gear. He also gets several calls each year from people wanting to know if towing giant icebergs to Saudi Arabia or Southern California could solve their chronic freshwater shortages.

“That’s crazy. It just doesn’t make sense economically to do that,” Bruneau told me. “Theoretically, it might be possible, but the cost of fuel alone could cover the cost of building a desalination plant.”

Another question Bruneau gets is how climate change and global warming will affect icebergs in Iceberg Alley. This turns out to be a rather complicated question, and with so many factors at play in any given year, no one can really know the answer. Warmer temperatures could lead to more and bigger icebergs, but it could also accelerate the pace of their melting, he explained.

Late one afternoon, while strolling the back roads of New World Island, a few miles south of Twillingate, I encountered an iceberg melting in real time. The sight was like hypnosis. The iceberg had managed to dock in a secluded cove against a large plate-shaped iceberg and was hit by the surging waves. I watched it fade over the course of an hour, from twin-spired majesty to two-headed humpback whales to lonely bulbous hills.

But then I realized that in its dying moments, it was actually protecting a large iceberg behind it, allowing its cousin to survive to fight another day, or at least another tidal cycle. I noticed. Iceberg made a noble sacrifice. A truly unique person.

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