5. Climate Triggers and Bermudan Secrets
Thomas, Danish West Indies, 16 March 1873, 18o22'N,
64o 56'W to Hamilton, Bermuda, 32o18'N,
voyagers arrived in Bermuda on the evening of April
4, 1873, sliding to anchor at Grassy Bay with the aid
of a local pilot standing at the foretop and directing
the four men at the wheel. The narrows through the reefs
were treacherous and a knowledgeable pilot was a requirement.
There were dozens of barely submerged corals all around
them and Joe Matkin could see on many of them the impaled
remains of less fortunate ships. The islands of Bermuda
were strategically important to Victoria's navy and
the whole of the British North American Fleet was stationed
there under the command of Governor Major General Lefroy.
Because Bermuda was so important to Her Majesty's navy,
the main town of Hamilton had the most elaborate docking
facilities in the North Atlantic. These facilities included
an enormous floating iron dock that had been recently
towed all the way from Britain by four men o' war, among
them H.M.S. Warrior.
River of Heat
Challenger left Hamilton on April 21 and soundings
confirmed almost immediately that Bermuda was indeed a
vast seamount, towering 4 kilometers high from its base
on the seafloor. She then shaped a course north and west
toward the Canadian coastline under Admiralty orders to
investigate the strange anomaly in the thermal structure
of the North Atlantic known as the Gulf Stream. This narrow
band of surface water, originating near the Gulf of Mexico
and flowing northeast toward the Newfoundland Grand Banks,
was known to be much warmer than the surrounding waters.
As Challenger traversed it, the crew dredged and sounded
in the manner to which they had become accustomed, finding
that the bottom here was more than 1,500 fathoms (2 kilometers)
deep. With their marvelously intricate thermometers and
water samplers, they discovered that the width of the
stream in that area was fully 60 miles and at least 8oF
(4oC) warmer than the waters on either side.
click here to enter Chapter 6. Kelp and Cold Light...