Monday, November 16, 2009

Last Night Aboard Ship

October 19th - pm

The deck was completely iced over and the sleet was still falling. The crew and any artist with prior sailing experience worked together to raise sail.

Not an easy feat under these conditions. At one point the bowsprits sail became tangled. The Captain left the wheel and made it to the bow in about six strides. He slipped only once, righting himself with ease. (everyone else had gone down repeatedly).

He climbed out on the bowsprits and wrestled the sail into submission, and returned to the wheel with a smile on his face.

For the next couple of hours we lived at a forty five degree angle or better. Lunch was a challenge. Food, dishes, glasses, and people were all sliding downhill. Moving about the living quarters took a lot of planning.

To get from the lower saloon onto deck I started by hanging onto the table ... running downhill to the wall next to the galley, pushing off and grabbing onto the railing at the bottom of the stairs, dragging myself up the stairs at a forty five degree angle, pausing at the top to get my breath and plan the rest of my path, use Osman as a ricochet point to come back around and brace off the mast that ran down through the upper saloon, push off the mast to hang onto Matt who was trying to get back downstairs, run towards the door to deck, glance off the bar and finally make it to the three stairs that led onto deck. This was all done with good footing. The deck was covered in ice.

Once outside, the howling of the wind was matched by the howling of our group! We were all out in force and loving it! We had to hang on to each other and to the ship to keep ourselves from being blown overboard. I had grabbed the Sanyo underwater camera as I was heading out on deck and it was a good thing!

The waves were flying over the ships railing, hitting us full force. I was hanging on to the uphill side of the boat with one arm and filming with the other. I looked down at Osman who was on the downhill side of the ship. It was like he was standing on a floor below me! It was exhilarating!!!!

Even Willie, who had experienced real fear on some early "nights of terror", was hanging over the rail, camera in hand and a huge smile on her face. It's amazing how much we've all changed in a couple weeks at sea.

We arrived back at the Longyearbyen dock in the early evening. We will spend one last night on board and then it's back to the Polarriggen tomorrow. Most of us are in complete denial that this is the end of our voyage.

We invited the crew to be our guests at dinner. We chose the Polarriggen since it was close to the dock and large enough to handle our group. We walked to dinner feeling the ground undulate under our feet. It was tough to walk on solid ground after so many days at sea. Dinner was festive, but tinged with the knowledge that tomorrow the Noorderlicht and her crew would head to Tromso without us.

Chef Anna

We slowly straggled back to the ship after dinner. As more and more people showed up the night felt more and more like a party. It finally kicked into gear when chef Anna showed up. She had kept to herself and kept us in fear throughout the trip. Tonight she was ready to party with us. Soon the Captain, Jan, and Sebastian arrived and the Captain started pouring drinks. It was getting late (actually early, as in 3am early) and most partiers had wandered off to bed. We had to be packed and off the ship at 9am. Katja, Ian, Raphaele, and I were reluctant to let the night with the crew end. We hung on as long as we could and then finally made our way down to our cabins.

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