Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ship's Log: Day 14 - Morning

October 19th - A.M.

We woke up to the ship rocking and rolling, while at anchor! The wind was howling outside. The Captain had heard that the wind was going to pick up and it was living up to the prediction.

I had been thinking about the shots I needed for my project. This was the last day I would be able to film Audun kayaking. As much as I personally wanted to get out one last time in the kayak, the shots I needed had to be taken from the ship or the Zodiac. I had to make a choice between indulging my desire to kayak one last time or to stay focused on my project.

I was also struggling with a kind of apathy. The thought of my Arctic experience coming to an end was sapping my energy. I didn't even feel like filming. I've felt this way before when I've spent extended time on location so I knew I needed to push past my apathy and get out there and shoot. I also knew that I was in the Arctic to make art, not enjoy paddling in the wild. When I told Katja how I was feeling, she understood, but pushed me to get out there and film (she's been an amazing help and a true friend). I found Audun and asked him to go out in the single. He also seemed a bit sad that we wouldn't enjoy one last time out on the water together.

I went up on deck and realized that none of us should be kayaking! The sea was rough with whitecaps and the wind too strong to go out safely. I went back below deck to let Audun know. He insisted that he would be okay, and that we should just go for it. He has gone from being a somewhat reluctant participant to a real collaborator in the project. He has a great sense of adventure and truly loves this region -- suggesting locations that we could explore for shots -- and now seems to really enjoy being in front of the camera. He is also taking a lot of kidding about his future Hollywood career and his need for an agent.

With Audun, Jan, and the Captain all saying that it should be no problem to go out in a kayak in these conditions, we decided to go for it. I wanted overhead shots and planned to start filming from the ship and then move out onto the water in the Zodiac. Fighting the pelting sleet and rough sea Audun got into the kayak. We planned for him to circle around the ship so I could film from above. This close to the Noorderlicht, Jan didn't need to follow him in the Zodiac.

I set up my tripod at the stern and waited for Audun to come around the back of the ship. It seemed to take him forever so I went to the side to look for him. He was paddling hard and hardly moving. The sea and wind was very strong, and pushing against him! He made it to the back of the ship and I started filming. It looked as if the ship was underway and Audun was struggling to catch up to it, but we were still at anchor!

The wind was blowing my tripod over as I struggled to stay upright. I took my big Sony camera off its tripod thinking it would be easier to film that way, only to have the camera come apart in my hands. I was holding two separate pieces!! The camera has a button to release the lens on the bottom of the camera. In my struggle to hold onto the camera and not fall over I must have hit the button (I still have no idea how this could happen). With the inner workings of the camera exposed to the sleet and high winds, I frantically tried to screw it back together. The whole thing jammed and was unusable.

I bolted for my cabin and grabbed my Canon so I could keep shooting. If Audun was going to risk his life for this piece there was no way I was going to stop shooting now. I got some amazing footage of him battling the wind and waves.

The Captain called Audun back in. The Zodiac, which was tied to the side of the ship, was banging so hard against the ship that the motor was at risk. Audun paddled for all he was worth and finally reached the Zodiac.

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