17 June, 1998
The polynya has absolutely disappeared and all that is here is ice. It is amazing to realize that just two days ago there was water as far as the eye could see where we now see ice from horizon to horizon. The decision has been taken to head towards Barrow Canyon and stop along the way to do a station at any little body of open water we come across.
Wednesday was a transit day and we bashed and crashed all day long. Several good bear sightings were made during the few moments when the ship came to a rest and all was relatively quiet. The bears appear to be young, 3 or 4 year olds of average size and very healthy looking. Most sightings have been on the starboard side and as the crew lines up along the deck the bears continue to approach, all the while with their noses in the air trying to sniff us out. A couple turned and took off at about 100 meters but one came to within about 50m of the ship. They are awe-inspiring animals as they move across the ice at what seems a walking pace but actually is a pretty good clip. One youngster we spotted on Wednesday approached with a mix of curiosity and caution but at some point caught a whiff of something that sent it running very fast, straight away from the ship.
The going is fairly mixed through this ice. Sometimes we are able to make a steady 4 or 5 knots for several hours and then we go through a big floe or ridged area and it might take us several hours to go several hundred meters. The sky is still overcast and the fog continues to roll in and out so flying is not an option at this time.
Every now and again a chunk of ice of I'm not sure what dimensions can be heard bouncing it's way along the hull from bow to stern. While sitting on the mess decks it seems to be a bit more pronounced and from the after berthing area it sound like it might just come ripping right through the hull and join me in my room. This evening, while putting in some time on the stairmaster, I suddenly had a moment of panic as I felt the ship hit something. DUH!
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