Friday: At Sea, Crossing the Davis Strait

Friday was spent with on board presentations, an arctic animal dinner and dance, and general relaxing and enjoying the calm seas and nice weather.  I went to France and Maria reading excerpts from France’s book about the Inuit who were taken to Europe to be exhibited.  France read the letters from the Europeans and Maria read Abraham, the Inuit’s diary, and it was very interesting and touching.

Some notes on our on board routines: Our cabin is on level four, near the mud room, which is very convenient, as we are right by our cabin after we take off boots and coats after an outing.  Up on level six is the Polaris Restaurant, the Nautilus Lounge, which holds the whole group and where our daily briefings take place, and in between these two is the Compass Lounge, which is a narrow lounge that runs in between the previous two locations.  There are books and comfy chairs there, and big windows.  I like it as a sitting spot.  It is also the location of the coffee and tea and bottomless cookie platter.  (On the galley tour we met the guy who makes the cookies and he got a round of applause.)  Additionally, tea with sandwiches and sweets is served most afternoons.  Also midmorning they bring our some consumme, in case we are faint from hunger, or chilled from an early outing.  There is surely no shortage of food on the ship!

There are other lounges on levels 7 and 9.  One of the passengers is a painter and has set up a little studio in the upper lounge.  The staff is very accommodating of such things.  All the lounges also have bars and during events the hotel staff offers drinks, and sometimes, snacks.  It might have been 30 minutes since the last meal, so you can never be too careful.

I know I might be using the terms staff and crew rather randomly, so let me clarify.  There is the Adventure Canada staff, who are the expedition leaders, responsible for all the outings and the educational components of the trip.  There is the hotel staff, supervised by Eckhart, and that consists of the wait staff, room stewards, and cooking staff, and also I assume the people I can’t see who must be doing the laundry etc.  Finally, there is the ship’s crew: the Captain and all the sailors, and those maintaining the ship.

When it is time to go out in the zodiacs, we are called by our color groups.  Ali and I are in the green group.  When called you go to the mudroom, put on your boots if it is a wet landing and of course, your life jacket.  These are not the big orange life jackets we would use for an emergency, but are smaller, one time use vests.  If you hit the water with one on, they would automatically inflate.  When you are ready one of the staff checks you and then sends you to the Zodiacs.  Where they ship meets the waterline they lower small gangways and the Zodiacs pull up.  The driver and two crew members on the gangway help you get in.  The rides to shore take from 10 to 20 minutes, depending how close the ship has been able to get.  When you get to shore, wet or dry landing, there are staff (ship’s crew I think) there to help you get out of the zodiac.  Then depending how much walking there is going to be and on the terrain, you might change out of your boots into the shoes you bring with you in a backpack.  After all the passengers are back, the ship’s crew uses a crane to lift the Zodiacs out of the water to the top of the ship where they are stacked for travel.

Got to see the sunset, beautiful open calm sea all around.  Sunset was at 11:15!  Long days up here in the Arctic!  There will be over 20 hours of sun tomorrow.

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