Day 7 |
Aug 07, 2013

At sea en route to Novaya Zemlya, Russia 

By Kara Weller, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 67° 22 ’ N – 41° 28’ E
Weather: mostly cloudy
Air temperature: 8° C
Wind: 50 km per hour
Pressure: 1006 hPa
Humidity: 90%

The sun shone brightly into the portholes of my stateroom early in the morning and it seemed a lovely and warm day. At 7 am hardly a soul was up and about. The revelries in the Panorama Lounge the evening before with Lou’s “Name that Tune” session had kept people in festive spirits late into the evening. But this morning was quiet and calm. The sun shone on the White Sea and the sky sparkled brightly in blue.

The perfect conditions were not to last however. Around breakfast time the sky started to cloud over, the wind increased and we sailed through patches of fog that from time to time obscured the view of the Russian coast off our port side. Cruising straight north through the White Sea not much wildlife was seen. Those of us out on deck during the course of the morning saw just a few gulls flying rapidly past us and mostly far in the distance. The wind on the front deck was fierce and very few stayed out there for more than a few minutes scanning the horizon that we were steadily moving towards.

A day at sea always involves a few lectures, and today Richard started off with a talk about land mammals of the north. The crew participated in an emergency drill and ran around the ship in lifejackets and parkas and firefighting gear as part of the usual exercises. Later in the morning Robin Aiello gave a talk about fish and their adaptations to freezing Arctic waters.

Conditions stayed overcast as we made our way out of the White Sea and continued north towards our next destination: Novaya Zemlya. But the seas were quiet calm and the movement of the ship was only slight, which made for a pleasant day and a comfortable ride. In the course of the afternoon a Dutch film about Willem Barentsz and his expedition to discover this mysterious land of Novaya Zelmya was shown, which was quite entertaining and fascinating. The hardships these men faced in those days and the unknown conditions they headed into illustrated a toughness of character that was truly impressive.

At tea time another Team Trivia contest took place in the Panorama Lounge, this time hosted by Rich Pagen, and therefore with a bit of a birders angle to the questions in it. Later on Uli gave a lecture on the deep mysterious oceans and how little we know about them and what is in them.

Outside on deck the sky stayed a gentle shade of grey. A few arctic terns with their elegant wings and sharply forked tails flew past chattering shrilly to break the silence. A few kittiwakes flew past as well. The back deck was pleasant out of the wind and a few people enjoyed sitting out there taking in the fresh air and endless vista of grey waves. We had a brief moment of excitement when a log floating in a vertical position bobbed to the surface appearing just like a seal for a few seconds until we realized it was only a log and not after all a seal.

As usual in the evening most everyone gathered in The Theatre for a Recap & Briefing before heading down to another fabulous dinner in The Restaurant. In the evening the Panorama Lounge once again became the place to be, with lively music and command singing performances from birder Rich Pagen as well as waitress Den Den who has a beautiful voice. A few people broke into spontaneous dancing, and everyone had a good time late into the night as the light faded and the sun set around 11 pm.