Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ship's Log: Day 3

Kayak and Matt Holzman from crows nest
October 8th

We had a tough night at sea. Thankfully I had applied patches for seasickness all over my body. The ship rocked and rolled and crashed through the ice. No one slept well due to moments of sheer terror ... and total disorientation. Our bunks have boards that we put in so that we don't fall out during rough seas, but these don't prevent us from banging about. Between the seasickness patches and the bruises, I've got a kind of Appaloosa horse look going on.

Katja and Janet's BunksI have the bottom bunk, which on first viewing may not look like the best choice. It feels more like a cubby hole. It is about 30 inches tall which means no sitting up in bed. We both ended up sleeping with a lot of our stuff in beds ... both to cushion us when we were thrown about on rough seas, but also because there was just no where to store the stuff. To move about in bed and, say, reach the clothes that were stored at the foot of my bed, I had to shimmy and snake around. Most mornings I would POP out of my bunk in what we started to call my morning births.

After a little time at sea I was happy to have that bottom bunk. With it so cold above deck and all our hot bodies below there was a lot of condensation which formed around our ceiling porthole and rained down on Katja's top bunk. She had to keep the porthole slightly open to stop the drips, which made the top bunk really cold!

Audun in single kayakAt 5am the ship finally arrived at 14th of July bay (named for the French holiday). The water was like glass and the sun came out for the first time since I've arrived in the High Arctic!

Audun Tholfsen, a Norwegian crew member has agreed to paddle the kayak and let me film him. He has had a lot of experience with cold water kayaking and looks great through the camera lens. He was part of the French Tara Expedition, which spent 9 months frozen in close to the North Pole. He is a total hard core Arctic explorer and guide.

Janet and Audun in double kayakWe started out with Audun in a single kayak. Jan (who carried the BIG gun and drove the zodiac), Katja Algert (my roommate who had agreed to document the project), Matt Holzman (from NPR Studio 360), and me all piled into the zodiac. We struck out for the glacier at the far end of the bay. I had a hard time shooting because my jaw kept dropping over the incredible beauty. After an hour we went back to the ship and swapped the single for the double kayak. I got into the rear of the kayak, Audun took the front, and off we went. After all the kayaking lessons I took in New York, hours of practice, and kayak polo games played in the Hudson, it was fantastic to finally be paddling in the Arctic!!

After a couple hours of filming, Katja and I switched roles and I became her assistant, filming her perform a series of Fluxus instructions. It was an amazing day which ended with cocktails over glacier ice on the deck of the ship and a birthday celebration for Katja (the cook made an obscenely rich chocolate cake with nuts, cherries, and fresh whipped cream ... did I mention that I'm gaining weight in the Arctic?)

1 comment:

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