Nordnorge is near

December 17, 2007 at 8:36 am | Posted in Assistant Post Mistress, Dreams and imagination | Leave a comment

24th November

I hear a ship’s engine again – at five thirty. Rick was kind of awake, and needing a pee, but could see nothing ooops. More snow in the night.

I’m wearing the brown fleece which turns me into a fluffy king penguin chick – good for hugs. Landing site and ramp need digging out again.

Spot Antarctic Dream in the Neumayer Channel – they start landing at nine. Good to see the crew again. They were hoping to be with us last night, but were delayed due to their part in Explorer’s rescue operation. Cold toes; have to bounce behind counter. By midday the place is quiet. They left us an enormous bag of fruit, milk and onions. And avocadoes we revel over on toast, with cheese, for lunch. Rick gives Helen a lesson in sharp knife use! Since Nordnorge took on all of the Explorer passengers, we don’t know if they will make it here today. Rick and Helen go to re-dig snow steps that had completely drifted in. I wash up and make stock list. Down through snow to the boatshed. No wind. No flotilla of bergs on low tide rocks. The nests here are particularly waterlogged; it will be hard to keep the eggs warm enough. We’re getting better at dividing and conquering the box mountain. The odd item continues to elude. Also manage to go through children’s t-shirts that were in a muddle – all now ordered by torch-light. Ponder exchange rates; the confusion of converting pounds to dollars to euros, and difficulties calculating change in different currencies. Finish off birthday cake (which had matured perfectly.) Unwrap more fiddly nickel penguins, liberating them from double layer of plastic and bubble wrap.

Rick has a gleam in his eye – another joinery project – a longer bench for the far left of genny shed. Helen is chief assistant this time, leaving me an hour to finally achieve synchronicity with blog. Fifteen minutes of intense ball balancing exercises before preparing boiled-egg and steak tandoori. The bench is not finished until seven thirty and the labourers are famished. Serve up dinner that looks like a rice penguin nest with two eggs in each. As we’re eating, Franz radios to say that Nordnorge is near and will anchor at the north side of Dumas – would we like to go across for a drink? Er yes please. We (happily) suffer indigestion, speedily swallowing sticky toffee pudding and bundling up a month’s stash of dirty washing. The bosun himself drives zodiac over to collect us, along with Franz and Marco – so sweet of them. Moving to hear a small part of their last 24 hours. Climbing aboard, it feels like coming home. Oivan says ‘You’re staying, right? So I can put the boat away?’ Captain says that’s ok, so we do. Lots of faces smiley with recognition. Astounded to be given a cabin each. Ah such luxury to stand under hot water and wash hair. Up to the bar, where yesterday the rescued passengers from Explorer had been camped. Some had no shoes.

They lost everything except their passports and the clothes they had on.

Extraordinary listening to the Captain describing what happened, and the others talking of the shock and tears. Humbling. Marco passes on a message from the EL (Expedition Leader) for Rick, apologising for our post being at the bottom of the ocean. That’s even more humbling, and incredible he had the presence of mind to remember such an insignificant thing. Having brought laptop over, I take advantage of the wifi to go surfing and catch up with Facebook buddies. Particularly lovely to read long messages from Barbara and Susan. Forgot adapter, so soon run out of juice. Bedtime anyway, it’s half past midnight. Stretch out under crisp white sheets. Ship’s engines drone through fitful sleep.

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