Amphibious Trilogies

Sensing the Sea

DAY 6 on the Arctic Floating University Expedition
27 June 2019

While Brynjar practices Tai chi almost every day (I join him sometimes) I do try to get access to the bridge, all according to the captain’s moods and the conditions at sea. When high seas cause significant threats to the boat and the livelihoods of the people onboard navigating and coordinating is difficult and access to the bridge is denied. Last night the ship encountered a large area of sea ice and some icebergs, the largest up to 14m high. In ephemeral moments between sleep and awaking I hear ice growling and rumbling as the ice collides with the hull. And believe it or not, I find the sounds comforting. Ancient sounds, ‘ur-lyd’ in Norwegian.

06.14 am: It has been a hard night for the crew. I’m on the bridge, fully awake, talking with the navigator. He is showing me a satellite image of our position. The central dot that marks our spot.

Circling his hand over the satellite image, he says simply. “This is ice.”

“This is on a scale of 24 km all around us.” His finger points to our current position, an area of relatively open sea with an approximated 24 km in diameter. He has been up all night to find a way between the ice to this position. And in doing so, the ship goes way off course.

While pointing to the bigger dots on the periphery he says, “This is iceberg, this is iceberg, this is iceberg and this is iceberg.”
“Large ones?”
“Yes. Very big.”

The navigator tells me that he thinks he has found a safe passage, which will take the ship out of the spiralling ice floe and into the open sea. The new route takes the ship in a northeast direction. Another deviation. During the time of our talk some crew members don binoculars and observe the ice as it floes and the ever ending formations therein. I have heard that the captain has said that radar images sent by the Norwegians do not give an accurate picture of the sea. A joke, perhaps. I never know with the captain.

I have my own binoculars with me, the ones that accompany my boat in Oslo. They are quite old and clunky but do a good job. The navigator tells me to look out there, to the north west. I see through the lens a large iceberg in shades of minty blue, slowly receding and becoming smaller as we make way in another direction.


Click & Drag: Rotate the view.
Right Click & Drag: Pan the view.