Thursday, 16 July 2015

Drinking the boat dry.

After being dropped back off in Upernavik so I could go to hospital to work for the day I was invited back to the boats for dinner as they were staying in Upernavik for the night. I got home and had a rest waiting for a text to tell me what time to meet them.

After the text message came in off I went expecting a night of good food and a couple of glasses of wine as we had had the night before. How wrong was I.

A lot of boats, especially up here in the high latitudes run a dry ship in case of problems at night such as dragging and anchor or icebergs either threatening the vessel at anchor or blocking the exit from a bay. By being sober the boat can be moved ASAP to either a safer mooring or to start that day's passage. Snow Dragon 2 and Bagheera have a more relaxed attitude, but still a sensible restriction on drinking and only in fine weather and good ice conditions.

As they were in a port and had met up with people they knew from previous encounters on a boat called "Salty", the alcohol was less restricted, a lot less.

I got over for around 6:30 to sort some images for them and to offer some advice about cameras and cleaning etc. We were just starting a G&T made with fresh iceberg ice and the cabin opened and a shout of "fire in the hole" in a southern USA accent came in. Followed by the skipper of Salty. It turns out he was drinking a rum and coke made with a rum called "fire in de hole". This set the scene of how the evening was to progress.

Dinner was scheduled for 7:30 so we made our way over with our contribution (I'm treated like part of the ship's crew now). Salty is crewed by a husband and wife who own the boat, their 3 kids (5,4 &1). This is all they usually have, but as they are going through the north west passage and they have the kids they have taken on 2 deck hands so they can have round the clock ice watch and someone can watch the kids with 3 people able to operate the boat.

After eating and exchanging stories of adventure the drinking carried on, and on, and on. This is their last opportunity for a blow out before Alaska. The problem I have had is that with the 24 hours of daylight the ships day is very flexible due to weather and moorings, not sunrise / sunset. My day is fixed at an 8am start. I'm not sure what time I went to bed, but at 1am I took them for a walk round Upernavik via the hospital so Eric from Bagheera could send an email and check the ice reports.

At 1:30 we were walking down the airport's runway then glissading down a load of rotten ice that was still left from being swept off of the runway during the winter.

Everyone had such interesting stories to tell of adventure and loss. Normally my life has been one of the most adventurous / obscure in a group, but this time I was well and truly the most "conventional". With talk of considering giving birth on the ships deck (but deciding on a tiny hospital on some island somewhere), to big knock downs to all manor of other adventures.

Then the party had to end so I could get to work on time (after being a little late the day before).

I popped in for a chat at lunch time to sort the images that never got done the night before and exchanging email and blog addresses. Then it was time to bid them farewell and go to work. Later that afternoon I saw them all slip the mooring and off they go for their epic adventures while I'm here to carry on mine. They won't be sailing as a flotilla as Salty wants to go further north then the other 2 before heading west so they can see "ice bears" and other wildlife, but I expect all 3 boats to meet up again.

Unfortunately I feel that now the NWP is on my bucket list. But that will be something for the future.

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