Today at around 1400 hours we started to enter substantial ice. I
checked the GPS and we were a bit above 70 degrees north latitude.
Floes now fill the landscape (seascape?) as far as the eye can see.
It's overcast but not at all foggy so we are going along at eight
knots, a decent clip, weaving in and out of ice floes and occasionally
bashing into one with a big thud that shakes the ship.
The energy on board - already high - has been cranked up a few
notches by the ice. Everyone's wearing a grin and folks are
circulating from the bridge to the bow, checking out the ice floes.
We've seen some auks and some seals, and one seal entertained us
popping up about 10 meters in front of the bow, then swimming along
the starboard rail and keeping up with us for a while before drifting
along the side of the ship and diving, showing off with a splash of
This is Isha's first time above the Arctic circle, in sea ice, and
seeing whales and seals. She is positively awestruck and describes
feeling "numb with delight." That kind of excitement doesn't wane,
at least not for me, and this is my fifth trip on this ship in Arctic
waters. I feel the same kind of excitement and awe that she does.
Arne, the Captain, told me earlier today that he thought we would
enter the ice at some point soon. He's got so much experience at the
poles, I swear, it's as if he can smell the ice as we approach.
There were other signs that the ship was heading farther and farther
north above the Arctic Circle. Everyone was issued cold weather gear
from the ship's stores. Hot chocolate appeared in the mess. And the
reading material posted in each toilet was switched from a briefing on
heat stroke to hypothermia (if you want to make sure something is
read, then post it in the toilet!).
We are still on the look-out for our first iceberg, and there is talk
of starting another contest to predict the first polar bear sighting.