I wake from the deepest of sleep, like swimming up from deep water. Steve is shaking me, saying "Dude, it's show time" He growls, bares his teeth and waves his fingers like claws for effect.
We've got a bear.
Anchored in the ice along Sabine Bay near Scoresby Island, a young bear swims stealthiy up to the ice edge, then nervously walks across the ice, circling closer.
All this happens while I roll over in my bunk and drift back toward sleep. I finally force myself up on deck, tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth and immediately stumble over someone's tripod.
The bear is equal parts curiosity and caution. She nervously yawns, dropping to her knees and crawling in the snow. Finally, she makes up her mind, hops over a small patch of water and sidles over to the boat. She stands up on her two hind legs, rising nearly up to the boat's deck, and peers in at us. Soon she's leaning on the bowsprit with one paw on the anchor, three feet away from me.
With one good leap she could be on deck with us, and then we'd have some excitement.
August 7, 2009 - Sabine Bay, Nordaustlandet, Svalbard