Sunday 17 August 2008

K: Abominable snowmen

The three arctic onions have morphed overnight into abominable snowmen. The layers and layers of clothing (I'm wearing 28 individual pieces of clothing on deck at the mo') have been covered with a fine layer of slushy snow. And we were joined in the wee hours by a new crew member - Doris, the world's smallest, slushiest snowperson. Sadly, she decided not to hang around and disappeared off to wherever snowpeople go when they melt.

I seem to have lucked-in on the on-watch visibility. When I came on deck at 0500 it was to the view of towering limestone and ice cliffs at the northern end of Somerset Island. Wow - pretty spectacular stuff. Don't think a camera will ever do it justice.

Still quite a few bergy bits around the place - nothing too serious. And I have a new definition of a following wind: a headwind that follows you around every bear-away on the route so that it continues to be a headwind. Grr...

It's currently stopped snowing. Alex's somewhat more accurate watch-thermometer is reading an air temperature of 1 deg C, so let's hope those grey clouds don't catch us and dump too much more snow on wee Berri.

On a somewhat more serious note, it's very sobering to remember that in the last 3 days we have travelled the same route (in reverse) that the men of the Franklin expedition spent their entire last summer alive traversing. By comparison we have it easy: someone has already charted the waters (who knows how many dead ends they followed before getting to King William Is), we have electronic navigation systems, grib files and marine weather forecasts, satellite produced ice charts, diesel engines, good food, polar fleece & gortex clothing and, I suspect, a lot less sea ice to deal with (global warming or mere good luck?).


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