For two days and more, we sit in the ice, starring out at a world of snow and ice and fog, all in gradations of gray.
When the clouds deign to lift, we can make out specks of black; ringed seals and the occasional yellow blob; distant polar bear.
I pace the 30 feet of available deck space, growing anxious, bored, depressed, subdued, achy, resigned and back again over the hours. We divide the day and night into two hour shifts, sleeping and eating at strange and uncertain intervals.
Beyond the slow, inevitable melting, the view does not change.
The boat and the ice begin to feel like a prison.
Powered by two bracing cups of coffee and more anxious dreams, I scramble up the mast and survey our surroundings. Ice, mountains, snow. At the edge of vision, I can still make out one large polar bear, walking along the shore, on patrol. Not exactly walking away, but not venturing any closer, either.
Soon the fog descends, and steals him away as well.
August 8, 2009 - Sabine Bay, Nordaustlandet, Svalbard