Easter Sunday

Sikuliaq Ice Trials
April 5, 2015

Arctic Odyssey: Voyages of the R/V Sikuliaq, on exhibit at the University of Alaska Museum of the North
Arctic Odyssey: Voyages of the R/V Sikuliaq, on exhibit at the University of Alaska Museum of the North

As one does on a holiday, I lie on my bunk reading a book. Second half of the novel. It’s hard to put down, so I read it out of my right hand and with my left I record the ship as it bucks back and forth through thick but broken ice. Everything creaks and rattles just the way you want it to when making a sound recording. Later I walk about the ship capturing sound from the Bridge and the corridors, the watertight doors and the heater in the Baltic room. I point a microphone at nearly anything that will make a sound while we still have ice bumping against the hull. Tomorrow, it’ll be ocean again and all the sounds will be different.

There are 48 people on board and Ann has made bent-wire rabbits for everyone. There’s candy too. There’s always candy. It seems to be a staple for field research whether you’re on a ship or camping along side a river looking for dinosaurs. Snacks, candy, and condiments. Also doesn’t hurt to observe a holiday in some form. It sets the day apart and passes the time while you’re working on getting from A to B.

For dinner there’s lollypop lamb and mint jelly and chocolate cake for desert. Better enjoy. Rumor is there’s 25-foot seas to the south. We’re heading east so we can turn into the swells at an advantageous angle. Someone’s going to be seasick on the way down. We’ll try our best not to make it everyone.

Sea Ice broken up by swells coming from the South
Sea Ice broken up by swells coming from the South
Sea Ice broken up by swells coming from the South
Sea Ice broken up by swells coming from the South

Visibility is still low but the ice is beautiful. This is our last chance to see it for a while. The ship will return to the ice later this summer/fall. It will need to go as far as the Beaufort and the Chukchi Seas to find it. I won’t be seeing sea ice for some time.

Took very few pictures today, but I wrote a bunch and I finished the second book of the trip. Apart from that, a very quiet day making sure gear is tied down.

25-foot seas? Well, I’m going to enjoy this in retrospect. Welcome to Spring in the Bering Sea. This is the part we don’t talk about in the exhibit. Amid the discovery and creativity, exploration and observation, there’s getting there and sometimes that means staying in your bunk most of the day — and literally hanging on for a bumpy ride.

— Roger Topp (UAMN Head of Exhibits, Design, and Digital Media Production)

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