September 15- setting the Watershed boats afloat

We are staying in the same general area looking for and working on ice stations.

An enormous heartfelt thank you to the Trans-Arctic Ice (TICE) team for letting me join them on the ice. This was definitely one of the highlights of the cruise so far. What made it exceptionally special was the deployment of the wooden boats decorated by my second-grade students at Watershed School in Fairbanks, Alaska. The boats have been on a long journey, starting in Fairbanks. They were packed in a box and placed in a pallet crate at the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) in mid-June before being air freighted to Kirkenes, Norway. They started their travel on the Akademik Tryoshnikov on August 11 and arrived at Latitude 80.50˚N, Longitude 167.38˚E on September 13. We couldn’t have picked a more gorgeous spot or day for deploying the boats. They had their own little pond on the ice floe. Sooner or later, the ice will melt setting the boats free to drift in the Arctic Ocean. It may take a while, but if they are found, there is contact information on the bottom of the boats. You can follow the drift of the boats and/or ice floe here. The buoy number is 2018S75.

The whole experience of going on the ice is indescribable. Being lifted up in the basket, halting in midair, looking out to a world of white with glistening gems of blue and green left me awestruck. And, then the sensation of being on an ice floe with ~2,400 m (7,874 ft) of Arctic water below me. Unfathomable. Not to mention drilling into that unbelievable hue of blue ice.

And doing all of this with the camaraderie of a group of people that have such a passion for what they are pursuing. To top it all off, I can’t forget the chocolate covered marzipan that was given to us by Ben after we had finished with everything.

In the photos, everyone is wearing survival suits, a safety precaution for going out on the ice. I am wearing an orange and black Mustang Survival Suit, a special suit in case I fall in the cold Arctic water. There is a built-in floatation device on the back top of the shoulders, and the suit is especially warm for the cold climate. We are all also wearing throwing ropes around our waists, another must for going on the ice. In case someone falls in the water we can throw them one end of the rope. There is a huge focus on safety precautions.

What a fabulous day!

Breakfast: oatmeal

Lunch: Hunter’s soup (beef, vegetable), pork meatball and rice

Tea Time: Russian salad (ham, carrots, and peas)

Dinner: beef stew and rice