"The ice in the area has brought a new spirit to the ship. We're no longer using auto-pilot, holding a straight course. The mates are weaving the ship through the ice like a slalom course at about 6 knots. On the occasion we do hit ice, the scraping noise vibrates through the ship and the vessel lurches to one side or the other.
"While no one has said it out loud, I get a feeling that many were relieved to actually see ice and that it still exists in the Arctic. Last year there was no ice to be seen and it is generally disappearing/retreating at a rapid rate.”
"On an ice floe we saw a polar bear feasting on a ring seal. The bear was large and healthy. I am still making sense of what it means to see a polar bear in the wild, on one level it is pretty straight forward and on another level it is quite humbling."
"I most enjoy being on the Bridge observing the mates in action. While Sikuliaq is the only ice-capable research vessel in University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) and one that gives you confidence in the ice, I appreciate the attitude on the Bridge. It comes from sound seamanship, experience, and respect. Work with the ice; take what the ice gives you. Ultimately in a ‘battle’ between ship and ice there will only be one winner, and it will not be the ship."
(Photos courtesy of Roger Topp, a photojournalist on John's trip.)