Monday, November 2, 2009

Ship's Log: Day 2

Nooderlicht in Skansbukta Fjord
[Click on photos to get larger images]

October 7th

We woke to calm seas after sailing all night. We had laid anchor in a beautiful cove off the fjord called Skansbukta. After breakfast, Jan (our guide and rifleman) gave a talk on how to go ashore safely ... "don't fall out of the zodiac, and stay near the guys with the guns to avoid becoming polar bear food" (this is my paraphrased version of his much more technical and professional talk).

Jan and Audun on GuardThe threat from polar bears is real. I heard lots of stories of people who didn't take it seriously and didn't survive. No one (including the crew) is allowed on land without either carrying a bolt action rifle and a flare gun or having someone with them who is carrying the guns. Only two people other than the Captain are certified to shoot, our guide Jan and my kayaking crew member, Audun. When ever I would head out with the kayaks, a armed escort was required. Since I had one in the kayak being filmed, my escort was always Jan. This meant that I monopolized all armed escorts when I was filming, so no one else was able to go ashore ... something that probably didn't make my project all that popular with the other participants.

Sebastian in the ZodiacOur whole group shuttled to shore in our one zodiac. We visited an old Russian mine, abandoned long ago. There was a small wood trapper hut that was still intact. The mine entrance had collapsed and what was left of the railroad tracks leading to the mine were twisted into a roller coast ride. We took a hike around to the opposite side of the bay, crossing a frozen river. We had a wet entrance and exit from the zodiac (which means they can't get all the way to shore and we have to wade out to the zodiac), but the wind and the water were calm so it wasn't bad. I'm very happy to say that my boots really are waterproof.

Anna's Galley on the NoorderlichtIn the afternoon we headed back to Longyearbyen to pick up Dr. Leigh McCallister, one of the scientists who had missed her connecting flight and came in late. We left Longyearbyen for the second time, this time leaving Isenfjord as well.

Anna, the cook on the Noorderlicht, is amazing!!! How am I going to explain gaining weight on an Arctic expedition? She combines flavors in unexpected ways that always surprise us and are absolutely delicious all in a galley that makes my New York City apartment kitchen seem spacious. She’s working on a cook book that I hope is translated into English!

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