19 August, 2001
August 19, 2001
We have had some beautiful weather here in the Arctic over the last 24 hours. The sun has been shining and the view spectacular. I decided that it would be a good time to check out an unexplored part of the ship- aloft conn.
Aloft conn is the highest point on the icebreaker. To get there, you go up to the top deck, and then climb about 30 feet straight up 3 metal ladders. You really have to eat your Wheaties to make it to this destination. When you finally arrive, you are 13 decks from the base of the ship in a very small control room. This is where the "steering" of the ship occurs, and the view is spectacular!
While I was visiting, the Healy became wedged in a channel and the ship began to vibrate. The driver then asked the captain for permission to back up and ram ahead. It was granted, and we were soon free. When working several decks below, the ship's movement isn't noticeable like it is from up top. It was a very different feeling.
The crewmember designated to "drive" is up high in the loft conn for a reason. The visibility is great, and that is important when you're maneuvering through ice. The ice can be quite treacherous and is avoided whenever possible -especially "blue" ice. Blue ice is ice that is old. It is called multi-year ice because it has remained unmelted for at least 2 years-maybe more. This old ice looks blue due to a decreased amount of salt, and it is very hard! Although beautiful to look at, it's not so beautiful to feel when the icebreaker hits it.
I plan to visit aloft conn again soon, and hopefully I can convince the crew that as a good driver, I would be great behind the wheel of the Healy!
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