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6 August, 2001


Monday, 6 August 2001


Life on Board

I set my alarm for 4:30 am so that I could be out on deck by 5 am for a chance to go to the Russian icebreaker Yamal. Their big helicopter landed on the ice alongside the Oden (there goes today's air samples) and about 20 people started walking over to our gangway. Some were administrators from the Yamal, some were tourists who had paid to go to the North Pole, and some were tour and people coordinators. The tourists were British, Australian, American, Russian, and others. We were standing around in groups chatting and waiting while they were led around the Oden for a tour. One American woman with a Texan accent asked me, enunciating clearly so that I could understand, in a very loud and slow voice, complete with hand gestures, "Will.you.be.staying.up.here.all.winter?"

Each time their helicopter would land and discharge people from the Yamal, a group from our ship would get to board and fly over for a visit to their ship. Apparently, the Russians would not tell us until their helicopter landed each time whether another group could go over or not so our coordinator was just going down the list we had signed up on last night as we got the OK. Unfortunately, they cut us off before they got to my name. Well, that's the breaks, I thought, lot's of our people aren't getting to go. Right then, John Militzer from NCAR and Michael Jensen from CIRES, both in Boulder, Colorado, came up to me and told me that I should take one of their places since so many people are looking at my website and I need to be able to tell the story. Of course I refused. But they were insistent and we had to hurry so I grabbed a life vest and ran down onto the ice and into the gale force wind created by the Russian helicopter for my first heli-ride. Thanks, John!

We landed on their helideck and were taken to the bridge (that's bridge, not brig) and given a quick talk about the Yamal. Originally built for military purposes, it is now a working icebreaker in the winter, keeping lanes open through the ice for shipping purposes. In the summer, it is a North Pole tour boat that departs from Svalbard every two weeks, goes to the Pole, heads to another archipelago called Franz Josef Land, then back to Svalbard. It is a huge nuclear powered ship, painted bright red on the top and black on the hull, with eyes and white shark teeth in a red mouth painted on the bow near the water line. The Yamal is half again as long as the Oden and has 3 times the horsepower. The Oden looks pretty small next to it, and those teeth are pretty scary. It is quite impressive. We got to see the control room, the engine room, and the nuclear reactors. I'm not sure how many decks they have, but we walked up and down a lot of steps. Talking to some of the tourists, I got the impression that it has so much power that they get a pretty smooth ride through the ice, although they said it "rocked around some." I'm not sure they understand the meaning of "rocks around some" until they have been on the Oden breaking ice.

I had grabbed my passport just in case I could get it stamped onboard the Yamal and we had the chance right before we were hustled back to the helicopter for a smooth ride back to our little Oden. They may be back in two weeks and I hope that those who didn't get to go today will get the chance then.

Where Are We Now?

Cloudy AGAIN! Intermittent snow. No wind though, so that is always nice for working on the ice. This morning at 10:30 our coordinates were 88o41' North by 00o01'East (that's a weird one) and by this afternoon at 3:30 we had drifted a bit, same latitude but 00o16' East. Oops! Wrong Way! Do Not Enter!

Scientists at Work

Despite the excitement of the Yamal visit, we still had work to do. At 9 am, we took a Go-Flow (single large bottle) seawater sample at 2 meters depth using the winch off the aft deck, which had to be processed for dimethyl sulfide in the lab. At first, we couldn't put the sample bottle into the water because a house-sized ice floe had drifted over to sit against the back of the ship. We used big boat hooks, all pushing at once, to coerce it into moving along. There were also 24-hr incubation samples to be processed at 10:30. Samples from the small surface layer sampling boats from yesterday had to be processed for bacteria today since they have also had 24 hours to "incubate". I will write about this bacteria process another day.

Vi ses! (See you later!)

From Deck 4 on the Icebreaker Oden, drifting somewhere north of 88, Dena Rosenberger

Here comes the Yamal. Watch our for those teeth!

In the Control Room with a very serious Russian Security Officer

Back to the Oden. Yamal is in the distance.

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