By Carol McCracken
Moments after an Immigration Officer disembarked from the Gambo dockside yesterday afternoon, the 45 ft. sailboat left Portland Yacht Services bound for the west coast of Greenland. The five member crew expects to arrive there in about fourteen days where they will be met by Dr. Alun Hubbard, owner of the research vessel Gambo.
Gambo’s mission is to measure the speed with which a large glacier is breaking-up and moving. Scientists will place GPS and camera equipment aboard the glacier in order to collect data. Simultaneously, data will be collected from equipment already in place there by another team. This expedtion is the first of a two year project funded largely by NASA and the British government. Next year the process will be repeated with different and better equipment.
Meanwhile, Gambo arrived in Portland on June 17 from South America. According to crew member, Rory Williams, Gambo had a “full makeover” – begining in South America and most of it here in Portland. While here Gambo received a new engine and new sails to name a few of the more significant replacements. Yesterday morning one of the crew members had to make a last minute drive up to Rockland to locate a coil of rope that had been misplaced and without which the trip could not have been undertaken. Williams is a fisherman from Alaska who has sailed on Gambo previously. He said: “She’s very seaworthy and there is nothing to be concerned about.”
Greenland is about 1,800 miles away. The five member crew plans on stopping in St. Vincent, Newfoundland which is about 900 miles from here. Williams said they expect to arrive there following 7 days and nights of steady sailing. The Gambo has to leave Greenland by mid-September. To leave Greenland any later would endanger the crew and Gambo due to weather conditions. Phin Sprague, Jr., manager of PYS marina said he’s been in e-mail contact with the boat’s owner, Dr. Hubbard on Greenland. Arrangements have been made for Gambo to return to PYS then where she will spend the winter under cover.
The crew had intended to leave Portland for Greenland by July 10. Delays mostly due to slow arriving equipment, made it impossible for them to keep to that departure date. Originally built as a world-wide cruising boat, Gambo was adapted for research such as the trip to Greenland.
Before boarding Gambo for the last time in Portland, French skipper Nowleen Chauche said in his heavy French accent, ” This is our current plan. To return to PYS in the fall.”
For more background information, please see MHN article dated June 28, 2009. Please google Dr. Alun Hubbard and/or Gambo as well.