2:20 local time
Saturday, October 3, 2015
CCGS Amundsen, Lancaster Sound
We are onboard the ship!
The past few days have given me an appreciation for how far the Arctic is from everywhere, and how, up here, you are at the whim of the planet.
Travel depends on the weather, and the elements here are extreme.
On Thursday, we left Quebec city for the airport at 4:00 am, bleary eyed but excited. Along with a crew of about 80 reseachers, Coast Guards, and students, we boarded a chartered plane and flew up up up to Iqaluit, Nunavut, where we touched down to refuel. At that point, however, the wind had picked up, and travel to Resolute was impossible. We all crowded into a 10’ by 30’ room, where we waited for the next 6 hours. Once the thrill of the surrounding landscape wore off, (for there is only so much you can see from one spot), we played cards, read, raced around the building, talked to the scientists and Coast Guards, and eventually, simply waited.
Eventually, the call was made not to fly until the next day. We were shuttled into the town where we checked into a hotel, then went out to explore. The buildings were a mix of old and wooden, brightly painted, and futuristic, geometric shapes that had been shipped in in pieces. The town was a juxtaposition of bright and rough: two children’s bikes, left to rust in a litter-filled creek; the landscape, hard and cold, and the smiles of kids rushing out of school; the hands of crafters offering us their creations, calloused and worn, and the beads, the fur, the stone.
The next morning we rushed back to the airport, and, a few hours later, we landed in Resolute. There we waited again, this time with no pretense of entertainment, for close to seven hours. All this time “doing nothing” had forced our group to bond, and at this point, all shyness had dissolved. Its difficult, but also exciting to thrown together with kids who have had such different lives to me!
Finally, four people at a time, we got a helicopter to the boat, anchored in the bay. We wore GIANT yellow body suits (see picture). I was so excited at that point that, as we swooped over pieces of ice I squealed and gasped and giggled with the person sitting next to me (a very sweet graduate student from France.)
The ship itself brought more excitement. Seeing all the equipment today during the safety briefing was so cool – the design is ingenious, and the Coast Guards are so friendly and willing to answer questions.
We haven’t seen any wildlife yet, but when I woke at 8:00 am and looked out of the porthole into the semi dark, we were surrounded in pieces of ice. It was a first-thing reminder that I really am in the Arctic.
Tonight, the scientists will start gathering data through sampling operations. I think, for the first one, we will watch from the bridge, but we have talked to them about joining in at the next station.
Right now, all of the Schools on Board students are in the Crew’s Lounge. Cara, from Pond Inlet, is drawing. Zoe (Ottawa) is sending an email to her school, and Alex (Montréal) is reading. The others are discussing the dangers of go carts.
In a few minutes, we will go upstairs to the Science Meeting. Everyone involved in the science program also met this morning and talked about the changes in schedule as a result of our delay. It was amazing to see their flexibility, considering many of them are gathering data for their PhD/Master’s thesis’s, and this might be their only opportunity to gather data.
It is really cool to see them work, and think about the future. After another 8 years of education, it could be us! Imagining that is both scary and exciting....
Note on Pictures: Keep checking, because I will add them to posts once I figure out how to upload them with the ships limited bandwidth. In the meantime, have a look at Cami`s blog (in French and English!): https://arcticadventurer.wordpress.com/