First Ice
In two days the temperature had gone from early summer warm to downright nippy, and we knew something else would change very soon. For weeks there had been nothing beyond the rail but a choppy sea and the horizon. Then in a day, we were no longer alone.

"First Ice sighted off the starboard beam" came the call from the bridge, and sure as a round bottom ship will roll, there it was. Just bergy bits at first, almost mistakable for white caps. Then growlers, reduced in stature by the ravages of wind and sea. And then, looming from under the overcast like floating warehouses, the large tabular icebergs.

Time to start making ice cubes.

Bergy Bits hint of bigger bergs.

A Growler looking for a ship to hit...

Tabular Bergs are flat like tables and bigger than houses.

Sunlight reveals the deep blue that was once deep inside a glacier.
First year ice is generally soft, dirty and green. Being recently frozen, the ice crystals haven't had time to pack together and get really hard. The ice we were seeing was blue, and that meant multi-year glacial ice. Blue ice is about as pure as you can get from mother nature. It's also as hard as concrete.

Right after the evening meal, we were solidly in the ice pack. I knew this without even looking out the portholes. The slow rolling motion of the swells had given way to the characteristic lurch of an Icebreaker doing what it was designed to do. The ship bounced to port as a berg was crunched to starboard, then bounced back as the next one got split in half.

I'm just now realizing the sun may not go down at all tonight. It may not go down for months. That means all this bumping and grinding will go on all night. And into the forseeable future. What a way to start the year!

This berg is about two stories tall.

What we see here is just the tip of the iceberg.

We try to stay away from ones bigger than the ship.

This junky berg looks ready to calve some growlers.

Crystal ice sparkles in the sun.

Now that's a lot of ice!

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Page posted 01/01/2002