Monday, July 2, 2018

Navigating the Arctic Pack Ice

It's taken us 4 whole days to forge a path through the dense, semi-permanent "old" ice, layers of new ice (which is not as thick) and pressure ridges, formed when ice flows collide, creating massive barriers the ship cannot always break through on the first try.  When that happens, there is a brief period of calm, as the icebreaker backs up and then gains enough speed to ram through the ridge.  Otherwise, there is a pervasive wall of sound, like rolling thunder, emanating from the hull, accompanied by jolting shock waves and vibrations so strong it's difficult to even type on the ships' computer to update our journal.  It's similar to experiencing moderate to extreme turbulence on an airplane for days on end.  This makes for very challenging working conditions, as well.  Conducting on-camera interviews is rather comical, as the subjects sway and bounce in their seats.  Hand-held footage, even with image stabilization on, sometimes is barely usable, so a tripod is almost always required. 

Our meals have been delicious, prepared each day by an efficient staff comprised mostly of Germans and Russians.  Even though this ship was not designed with passenger comfort in mind since it is, after all, a working icebreaker, the accommodations are more than adequate for an excursion into the frozen void.

We've seen 6 polar bears so far, including a mother and cub. When certain wildlife is spotted, the captain stops the ship and an announcement is made over the intercom, even if it's 2:00 AM, so passengers can go to the deck to view the animals.

With a little luck, we should reach our destination tomorrow morning!