The Foodfather part II

Written by Mike Stewart

One of the most unique aspects of the Age of Exploration is how well the men
journaled their experiences. You can easily recreate the list of gear they
brought, things they wished they’d have brought, and WHO they blamed for not
bringing it!

Wegener Snow Cave

Wegener’s men gathered in the snow cave at Eismitte, at the center of the Greenland Ice Sheet

Often times, an expedition had so many members writing that beautiful accounts of their daily way of life could be reconstructed, after-the-fact, in the form of novels. Classical examples being “Endurance”, “Mawson’s Will”, “90 degrees South”, or Nordenskjold’s  miraculous fiasco of the “Swedish Antarctic Expedition”.

Nansen's preparations alongside the FRAM, 1894. He was famous for his meticulous attention to details of readiness (from National Library of Norway)

Nansen’s preparations alongside the FRAM, 1894. He was famous for his meticulous attention to details of readiness (from the National Library of Norway).

Those of you who have read these pieces are well aware of how much food is mentioned! In how many instances did the men have to resort to boiling the leather of their boots for protein! These, of course, were at the most dire ends of emergency situations, not a normal preference for the polar palette.

One of the most entertaining topics are the men’s elaborate descriptions of the four or five course meals and holiday style desserts they would have when they returned home! Yorkshire pudding, roasts, salmon, custard, bratwurst, lager, cigars, and scotch whiskey.

Food is the center of morale. Not only for strength and survival but also for spirit and community. It is critical at sea, critical when out camping, and of the utmost importance when out in a desert as we are up here. I was on a ship ten years ago that had gone through the entire hoop jumping hoo-hah of clearing customs, departing port with marine pilot escort, paying all the associated fees, THEN discovering that the coffee had been overlooked in the resupply. we turned around at sea and came back in. and paid most of the fees double to do it! No coffee, no worky.

Local, farm raised, pork tenderloin and freeze dried organic vegetables laid out on top of our 'Meat and Veggies' crate.

Local, farm raised, pork tenderloin and freeze dried organic vegetables laid out on top of our ‘Meat and Veggies’ crate.

But how much do you pack per man? How heavy can the food stores be? What works and what doesn’t in the harsh conditions of an ice sheet?

Again, looking at these old journals, talking to old timers, and gleaning
tricks off of the people who live (not just visit and traverse) in the latitudes where you’ll be going is the way to go. A favorite fact about
Nansen’s first FRAM Expedition is that the crew actually gained weight, not lost it! Below are a series of photos that show our Fall, Winter, early Spring preparations. A dear friend once used the phrase “life force” to describe the value of wild, natural, food. If you’ve ever drank milk, warm, from the cow, cooked  salmon on the shore right after catching it, or eaten a tomato off the vine in the field, you know exactly what he meant. It’s full of raw power and our bodies respond differently to it. We took great care, and in some cases invested serious time and energy(!) into gathering not just anything to eat, but food full of sun, strength, and spirit.

Arctic Hunt

Mike, and dear friend David, ski with polk sleds across the Arctic Coastal Plain during their Fall Caribou hunt, 2012. The round trip from the cabin in Fairbanks is over 800 miles, and whether or not you’ll intersect the migrating Central Arctic Herd is a total gamble!”

Zandra and Mike with their years supply (and our expeditions supply!) of subsistence harvest wild meat

Zandra and Mike with their year’s supply (and our expedition’s supply!) of subsistence harvest wild meat

"In the cabin kitchen prepping and packaging our favorite snack 'stick-a-bou's'!

In the cabin kitchen prepping and packaging our favorite snack ‘stick-a-bou’s’ (or ‘bou-cicles’ when frozen)!

 
This makes for a bright, industrious, and merry crew.
Nate chipping through brutally hard ice... and smiling!"

Nate chipping through brutally hard ice… and smiling!

Chris cutting pork steaks for dinner
Chris cutting pork steaks for dinner

Mike drilling the 10 meter hole at 2:00 AM for temperature measurements

Mike drilling the 10 meter hole at 2:00 AM for temperature
measurements

Heat, Horsepower, Hard Snow, and Thick Air

Written by Chris Polashenski

Its been a busy few days here on the SAGE traverse. Since arriving at our fuel cache, we’ve deployed 2 autonomous albedo and weather measuring stations , done 4 science pits, and covered about 160 miles westward. Westward means off of the ice sheet, or at least in that general direction. Our route thus far has had us riding up along the spine of the ice sheet, near its highest elevation the whole way. Now that we’ve made the turn West we are rapidly losing elevation (6200′ today, compared to Summit’s 10350′). As we’ve dropped in elevation our machines, which have been hiccupping and burping their way through our watery gas have gotten happier. No more stopping 3 times a day to crank the water through after stalling. With all this extra air they are running great and we can feel the extra pony’s under the hood.

The snow has changed dramatically too over the past 160 miles. We dipped down onto the ocean-facing slope of the ice sheet into an area with vastly greater accumulation. A year’s snow all along the route from summit to our fuel cache had been 40-60 cm. At our last site it was 118 cm! Perhaps because of the higher snowfall rate, the surface is much smoother than we’ve been driving on. Zoe actually might have been able to “keep her out of the cabbage” here. There also is certainly the temptation with greater available horsepower and smooth surfaces to go a little faster. even though we are stunningly loaded down, fresh off our fuel cache, and with stations still to deploy. This is a temptation I’ve not been entirely able to resist, and Mike and Nate seem happy to oblige with putting their thumbs down on the throttle as well. After two weeks in the choppy seas, a glass smooth water surface like this just can’t be ignored. While not fast by snowmobile standards, seeing us ratchet the speed up from 20- 25mph to careening along at about 35-40 mph with our serpentine circus train must be quite sight.

Heavy Thumbs meet the throttle

Heavy Thumbs meet the throttle

No one to see it though –the only people, or for that matter signs of people, we’ve seen since leaving Summit were occupying the three airplanes that have passed overhead. One appeared to be a scientific craft, possibly Alfred Wegener Institute’s P-5 which we heard was up here, the other two passenger jets apparently taking a great circle route from Europe to North America. All were thousands of feet above. These homo sapiens sightings were all below station Benson 4-150, though. Nothing since. All told we’ve also seen 9 birds. 2 snow buntings, 2 wheatears, and a flock of 5 snow geese – nice to have animals outnumber people, even in this polar desert where neither really belong.  These erratic avian wanders invariably are quite fatigued, and our efforts to feed them something to help them on their way have yet to be taken, but so far each has managed to find the strength to carry on after collapsing near our camp for a couple hours.

Homo Sapiens at 20k feet

Homo Sapiens at 20k feet

Wheatear meets station

Wheatear meets station

The great wall... on an entirely windless day.

The great wall… on an entirely windless day

Speaking of the changes in the snow, this stuff is HARD. The windslab we’ve been dealing with has been tough, requiring chopping with a steel shovel or sawing into blocks, but honestly the blocks were of too low quality for building much out of. Yesterday’s wind slap was knife-hard, and could be sawn into enormous blocks, which Nate promptly build the Great Wall out of.

Snow bunting finds the Great Wall

Snow bunting finds the Great Wall

Perhaps after we finish our round the-clock station deployment extravaganza there will be enough time one evening for an igloo build. Immediately beneath the winter’s wind slab was a layer of snow that had been thoroughly water-soaked during last summer’s melt. Unlike the isolated percolation tubes and ice layers with relatively soft snow between which we encountered at higher altitude, 70-80%+ of this snow pack had thawed, been water-doused and refrozen into a rock-hard lump. An almost fully saturated snowpack.

Ice layer at station 2-20

Ice layer at station 2-20

Comparing this with the papers written by Carl Benson (who was gracious enough to take Mike and I to dinner before we departed and sign the copy of his report I’m carrying, and referring often) in the 1950’s, the soaked snow zone was at about 3000-4000 ft above sea level in this area. Last summer’s melt apparently crept this elevation up to around 6600 feet.  In fact, last summer’s melt transformed the character of the ice sheet. Where vast areas had been “dry snow” snow that never melts at all during the summer, we’ve actually not found a single case of dry snow. Carl divided the ice sheet into zones or “facies” based on the degree of melting that happened there. All these have moved up almost exactly one level. Carl’s dry snow zone is our percolation zone. His percolation zone is our saturated snow zone. While this sort of change had been predicted from last summer’s satellite readings, being the first to put a shovel to it has been quite an experience already. Each night comparing what we see to what Carl saw shows how significant the changes of last summer were.  And not just last summer. We’ve also been drilling down 10 m into the ice sheet each night to take a long-term average temperature, just as Carl did 60 years ago. These temperatures have averaged 1-2 C warmer than his. The ice sheet just might be waking up.

Nate, who is crazy, needed something to tire him out after digging the pit... goes skiing.

Nate, who is crazy, needed something to tire him out after digging the pit… goes skiing.

Today we actually drove a bit back away from the high accumulation area of the ocean-facing slope, and onto the ‘rain shadow’ side. Digging at first was exactly like our high altitude digging. Easy, soft windpack. Then the pit reminded us we were at much lower altitude where it had been warmer last summer. Part of the reason I’m writing this blog this evening is that Nate – our chief pit digging engineer, is taking a particularly long time blasting, sawing, chipping, and stomping his way through a 4 inch thick solid ice layer, which, it appears, is going to lead him to more solidly melt-soaked and refrozen snow. We may need more shovels.

Hot cocoa break from chiseling

Hot cocoa break from chiseling

Constant daylight = constant work!

Nate in the calm before the work storm...

Nate in the calm before the work storm…

Some photos from Mike Stewart

 

 

The John Henry of our team, Nate here working to out dig his shadow

The John Henry of our team, Nate here working to out-dig his shadow

As science carries forward, so does Mike in re-building our fuel cache

As science carries forward, so does Mike in re-building our fuel cache

Chris wiring, mounting, and linking the myriad of autonomous instruments into the modem in the wind-shadow of the tent..

Chris wiring, mounting, and linking the myriad of autonomous instruments into the modem in the wind-shadow of the tent..

.. then out in the crispy cold breeze, 100 meters distant from our camp

.. then out in the crispy cold breeze, 100 meters distant from our camp

Whirligigs and Do-hickeys

Whirligigs and Do-hickeys

Pit Vipers!

Pit Vipers!

Mike and Chris put finishing touches on

Mike and Chris put finishing touches on

Beat that steam drill! Nate warm from work...

Beat that steam drill! Nate warm from work…

...then all bundled up to try and save heat and stay warm before bed!

…then all bundled up to try and save heat and stay warm before bed!

Finally a chance to bend an elbow

Finally a chance to bend an elbow

To close this evening, a picture of Nate's windshield. That's our favorite Shellie, Nate's wife and our dear friend, watching over us to be sure we come home safe

To close this evening, a picture of Nate’s windshield. That’s our favorite Shellie, Nate’s wife and our dear friend, watching over us to be sure we come home safe

ze Science of ze Pits

Written by Zoe Courville

While the guys are busy setting up the second automatic weather station (AWS), I have a chance to wax poetic about the science one can obtain from snow pits.  It is easy for me, sitting in my warm office, to daydream about digging and sampling a cold snow pit, but if truth be told, it is not that bad of a place to spend an afternoon.

On many of my previous field trips, I have been the field member tasked with completing the snow pit studies, and gained, through this task, the reputation of being “tough.” But once again, to be completely truthful, a snow pit, usually dug to around 2 meters depth, is generally out of the maddening wind that so often plagues field teams.  And while the pits start out fairly cold, the small space is generally warmed up just by the person working in it to the point that it becomes fairly comfortable.  I’ve spent countless pleasant hours in snow pits, and have even been known to take a quick nap or two.

So what would make such a past time worthwhile?  After all, comfort aside, is the effort required to dig and sample a pit, easily several hours worth of hard labor, really worth it?

The top 2 meters of the polar ice sheets is usually fragile enough that efforts to sample it through coring result in a crumble of snow grains, so even for field efforts that involve drilling deep ice cores, a snow pit or series of snow pits is needed for the top two meters.  For a field project like we are conducting, where speed and weight are of the upmost importance, collecting ice cores and bringing them back to the lab, which requires dragging along the extra weight of both equipment and the collected cores, is too prohibitive.  So pits it is.  Many of the giants of polar research, Dr. Tony Gow, Dr. Richard Alley, Dr. Carl Benson, have spent many, many hours working in snow pits, and we owe much to their pioneering work.  Chris is lucky in that Carl himself gave him a few pointers on snow-pit work before he came to Greenland (i.e. “nobody digs a proper four-wall pit anymore”)

And how do we interpret the climate signal left in the snow?

I’ve been working with a freelance artist, Sam Carbaugh, a graduate of the nearby Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, VT, who put together this illustration of how ice sheets record past and current climate conditions (http://samcarbaugh.tumblr.com/).

Snowpack

ice sheet cartoon by Sam Carbaugh

In the interior of polar ice sheets  (Antarctica and Greenland), snow falls on the surface and rarely melts.  Over time, because the snow accumulates, layer after layer as each storm and snowfall comes, the ice sheets build up.  The top part of the ice sheet is made up of what is called “firn,” or snow that is older than one year, and is permeable (or open to air flow).  At a certain depth, generally just under 100 meters, the firn becomes compressed enough from the weight of the snow above that it becomes ice, where instead of being permeable, the air in the pore space becomes isolated into bubbles.

The snow and firn can be sampled, as Chris and Mike and Nate are doing at the moment, in a pit by extracting small (around 100 cubic centimeters, about the volume of a pack of cards) samples at a few centimeters depth per sample, and collecting the samples in carefully cleaned sample bottles.  Generally, we take one sample every 1 to 3 cm down the height of the snow pit wall (and yes, that adds up to a lot of samples).  Because the snow that makes its way to the interior of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica is so clean, it is easy for the person collecting the samples to contaminate it.  We generally have to wear a clean suit, plastic gloves, and use carefully cleaned sample cutters.  The small snow samples are then run through a series of instruments back at the lab (most generally some sort of mass spectrometer) that can determine what concentration levels are present of a whole suite of chemical species.  You name it, a geochemist is probably looking for it.  Dust (which is made up of different chemical species depending on where it originated) is one example of an aerosol, or particle, frozen into snow that can be studied, for instance.  Black carbon, or soot, is another.  Concentrations of sea salt which serve as indications of storminess and strong winds are another source of information locked in the snow.

In Greenland, it snows enough each year that many chemical species have seasonal differences between summer and winter that can be distinguished from one another and used to discern annual layers.  Large volcanic eruptions leave a layer of tephra in the snow, which can be used to help check the counting of annual layers done through seasonal chemical analysis, if the date of the eruption is known.  For instance, the 1815 eruption of Tambora in Indonesia is one eruption that can be used to help date ice cores.  Another common technique used to help date ice cores is by measuring radiation found in cores…when a peak in beta radioactivity is reached in the measurements of radiation with depth, that layer can be attributed to the run on nuclear weapons testing that occurred just before the 1963 global ban on above-ground testing.

The local temperature when the snow fell can be determined indirectly through the isotopes of water at a given site, based on the fact that there are generally smaller amounts of the heavier isotopes of water as the temperature gets colder.

Another property of the snow comprising the polar ice sheets that can be used to interpret past local climate and weather conditions is the actual physical structure of the snow itself.  In Greenland, the summer and winter snow layers not only have different chemical signatures, but the snow grain size and shape and the density of the snow is different from one season to the next.  Winter snow tends to be denser, with finer grains, than summer snow, which is less dense and has coarser grains.  Here I am in the bottom of a 3 meter snow pit near Summit, Greenland, where Chris, Mike and Nate are starting and ending their journey.

Zoe in a 3 meter backlit snow pit near Summit.

Zoe in a 3 meter backlit snow pit near Summit.

This pit is actually a backlit pit, where a group of us dug first one pit, and then left one wall of about 20 cm, and then dug a second pit.  Yes, lots of work.  We covered the first pit, and what you see is the sunlight from the second, open pit, filtering into the pit I am standing in.  The blue light is caused by the snow preferentially absorbing other wavelengths of light, most notably red.  The lighter bands of snow are summer layers, while the darker bands of snow in the picture are winter layers.  This was actually an area that I had revisited over the course of 3 years.  The first year (in the summer), I had left a string marking the snow surface that you can see in the picture if you look near my shoulder.  The second year, I left another string, which you can see near the top of the picture.  It snows an average of 65 cm of snow per year here.  If you look even more closely at the layers of snow that make up each seasonal layer, you can see individual weather events—storms, layers of frost that form, wind scour layers.  Over time, these 65 cm thick layers are compressed by the weight of the snow that falls on top of them, undergo metamorphic changes due to the transient and ever-changing nature of snow, and end up being squished down to less than 1 cm towards the bottom of the ice sheet which can be 3-5 kilometers deep (and then undergo melting, folding and deformation due to the heat of the earth insulated by the ice and movement of the ice sheet as it flows over the bedrock…but that is a whole other topic!)  But at the surface, they start out as these wonderfully clear markers that we can marvel at before they begin their journey to the base of the ice sheet.

Finally, I share with you the following link to a video a group of us (Maria Hoerhold from the University of Bremen and two students, Elyse Williamson from Hamiliton College and Kristina Sorg from Bowdoin College) shot extolling the virtues of snow pit digging.  We called it “SnowFreaks.” Enjoy.

http://www.exploratorium.edu/tv/index.php?project=9&program=1075

Buried treasure

Written by Mike Stewart

From over the horizon rise two red flags...

From over the horizon rise two red flags…

This afternoon we made arrival at our fuel depot. Magical to come upon a known feature in this seemingly limitless white. It marks the start to a very industrious 24 hours for us, too. Not only do we have to do our usual science (pit measurements, sampling, etc.) but we also have to break into our cache to begin building our second weather station. These are complex and hi-tech, composed of quite amazing components powered by solar and a buried battery bank. We’ll detail each instrument for you in a post ahead.

Arr, thar be bounty here!

Arr, thar be bounty here!

For now we are going to spread out our forces and go full charge at completing the science AND re-configuring our sled loads. I leave you here with images of our arrival, dig out, and harvest of the riches buried in our depot! It’s sat here for a couple of weeks awaiting our return, and has been like a mini-Christmas to unpack. We sign off by tipping our hats to those who set caches in the far reaches of the polar regions  over the last century. It’s an amazing feeling to reconnect with critical gear. Many menhave shared this simple feeling of fulfillment.

185 gallons of gas, crates of weather station parts, engine oil, and batteries

We remember those today, with reverence and respect, who never did.

Chris breaks into the depot and begins building a weather station from the cache of parts

Chris breaks into the depot and begins building a weather station from the cache of parts

A critical resupply for our expedition

A critical resupply for our expedition

The Food Father, Part I

Written by Chris Polashenksi

So a question we got a lot before leaving, while at summit, and from our friends and , now that we’re out here, is “What are you going to eat?” The long and short of it – everything. And a good lot of it. With cold temps, high altitude, and pit digging (albeit without man-hauling our sleds) we’re definitely burning through the calories – about 4000 a day for me. And that’s only the beginning of our food needs. My esteemed colleagues Mike and Nate seem to have a severe efficiency problem and are consistently putting away twice the volume of food I do, yet they do no more work, and seem to be no warmer than me. We should have checked into their efficiency ratings when Zoe and I hired these guys! Though delicious and cheese, sausage, and bacon-fat filled, the lunchitos just aren’t enough to keep this crew running.

Provisioning for the trip happened in several forms – Mike brought meat from a fall caribou hunt in Arctic Alaska. I brought goose, moose, and venison from both New England and Alaska. Eggs and veggies in the lunchitos came from Norah at Sweetland Farm.

Still a large portion of our dried goods needed to be purchased. Nate drove up to Norwich VT a few weeks before the trip to do this with me. Delayed by a snowstorm in Massachusetts, he rolled in late and met me directly at the super market. A quick hello in aisle 9, and I returned to felling displays of Lipton sides and Velveeta cheesy skillets into the motorcade of carts I’d assembled. Nate took a moment to catch on to the magnitude of the shopping endeavor and was dainty at first, selecting out about 8 or 10 of his favorite candy bars and putting them in the cart. Some quick math about each person wanting perhaps 2 per day, times 3 people, times 45 days got him straightened out and into the spirit. Soon he was putting gaping holes in key sections of the shelving as well.

Chris pitching to three hitters!

Chris pitching to three hitters!

Checkout raised some eyebrows, not the least because it was late on a Thursday night, and the Coop was supposed to close in 25 minutes as we pulled in to checkout lane 3 with our land-train of carts. Luckily there was a cadre of good-spirited folks working the checkout, and no one else checking out, so we occupied all checkout lanes. Everyone was excited enough to hear about the trip we were buying all this awfully fattening food for that we didn’t hear a grumble. We squeaked out just at closing time with a receipt roughly 5 and half feet long and headed to the farm to do some shuffling and repackaging.

Zoe, Norah, and Chris beset in a sea of processed packages

Zoe, Norah, and Chris beset in a sea of processed packages

Preserved food from the store seems to come in an inordinate amount of packaging. 8 shopping carts full of food was going to come with us but in needed to fit in about 1.5 shopping carts worth of space. Plus we wanted to be organized enough to be able to pull out a single bag for breakfast or dinner rather than having to rummage through the pile. A massive explosion of colorful packaging extending in the wee hours of the night and 10 boxes of Ziploc bags later, we had 45 neatly packed dinners and breakfasts. Lunchitos were left for just before departure.

The general theme out here for the menu is:

Breakfast
Hot cereal (cream of wheat, steel cut oats, grits, etc)
Coffee/hot chocolate
Fixins (chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, dried ginger, dried apples etc.)

Lunch
Lunchitos!
Chocolate bars
Caribou Jerky sticks (Stick-a-bous!) or Venison Jerky

Dinner
Starch (noodles, rice, powdered potatoes, stuffing etc)
Flava (Lipton sides packets, onion soup, pasta sauce, velveeta cheese)
Meat (caribou sausage, smoked salmon, tuna, canned mackerel)
Dessert (brownies, coffee cake, bluberry cake, pudding)

The Food Father

The Food Father

It just so happens that our division of labor has broken down in such a way that Mike is doing most of the camp work – and almost all of the cooking. Momma Mike almost stuck. Then Stewing Stewart was tried. Eventually, inspired by our Saturday-night watchin, nay studying, of “The Godfather” on my laptop Mike has been named the Foodfather. From our perspective this has been a wonderful arrangement. Each night, Nate and I come out of the pit to find a dinner that is always delicious, if not executed exactly according to plan. Usually the stick of butter the Foodfather “submarines” in the dinner covers any shortcomings. I’ll let him pick up next time with the Foodfather part II to tell about our food sled, and entertaining tales of culinary excellence on the ice sheet.

South Paw

Written by Mike Stewart

So you’re driving along on “Neptune”, watching Chris ahead of you, and Nate behind you in your rear view mirror.

Driving along with Nate and Chris

Driving along with Nate and Chris

As you may have seen in pictures already we snow machine in a formation called quartering, where we are stacked up behind each other’s left or right shoulder (depending on the wind direction). We keep a set distance between us and maintain the same speed. This takes some concentration and is quite fun, making what could be a boring drive into what feels like a special-ops maneuver! Because we all have the same machine, and a relatively similar load that we are towing, the engines are running at best efficiency when around 6100 RPM. That’s giving us an average speed of about 42 kmh. If you look in the photo, you’ll see the little throttle lever on my right handlebar, which I have to hold constantly to keep in formation with the guys.

Right hand on the throttle and left hand hanging out, just helping to steer

Right hand on the throttle and left hand hanging out, just helping to steer

My left hand can control the brake if I need it, but otherwise just helps in the steering and can be rather lazy. Until I get an itch on my head, need to dust snow off of my dashboard gauges, or have to adjust my goggles. I could of course just stop, take off my big gloves and fix with the minor inconvenience or scratch the scratch… BUT then I would have caused Chris and Nate to stop too (that’s what we do when something is wrong or when one of us has a GOOD reason to halt our progress). Nobody wants to stop the train for something so trivial! It would be like stopping your car every time you wanted to adjust your glasses a little. Silly and impractical. So I can just simply use my left hand while driving along with my right…

The Abominable Snow Mitt!

The Abominable Snow Mitt!

Except my left hand is like a small log in a sleeping bag! Like if you picked up a bunny rabbit and tried to adjust your reading glasses with it. And if you get a bad itch on your forehead while careening along across bumpy snow and trying to stay lined up with the team?

 

 

A most inaccurate and imprecise tool

A most inaccurate and imprecise tool

That clawless bear paw makes you steam up in frustration! And the worst part (those of you who drive snow machines will smile in understanding) is that you can’t help but squeeze your right hand on the throttle while you itch uncontrollably with your stupid giant boxing glove of a left hand! So you go speeding out of formation like you’ve got ants in your pants, everybody looking over at you, as you try to calmly return to your place in the line-up. Driving out here is like driving a small boat in gentle seas. The sastrugi are little wavelets and the air is fresh and sweet to breathe, it’s pristine… until the South Paw skips the record and throws a monkey wrench in it!