Last Saturday we finally got to leave our hotel rooms and meet everyone
in a chartered coach with masks and safety visors. We travelled to Raa
just south of Helsingborg, where the icebreaker Oden was anchored
offshore and were transferred to the ship via a small boat in groups of
As soon as we got onboard we got an
introduction to the ship and safety drills such as where to muster (the
location where everybody meets in case of an emergency) and where to
find fire extinguishers and alarms. We are all responsible for the
safety onboard. In case we do need to abandon the ship, we have to be
familiar with the survival suits which we got to try on right away
(although in 20°C and was a bit toasty).
Since then, we have been doing a lot more specific safety training
courses because each operation has its own perils. We had courses such
as safety in the labs, in equipment that will deployed from the ship
such as box corers, the CTD (where we get our water from), the
helicopter and most importantly, safety on the ice floe. It's not often
that your work description reads: work can be done weather and
polar bear permitting.
It was good to get a detailed introduction on
which parts of the floe are safe and how to behave on the ice and
always be prepared for polar bears getting curious. In order to be as
vigilant as possible, if anyone hears the words, "Polar bear" or you hear
the ship's horn, the ice floe is abandoned immediately. That is why
you must never say polar bear while people are on the ice unless you need to!
On Wednesday we crossed the Arctic circle at 66°N. Over the last couple
of days, the temperature has dropped dramatically and is nearing 0°C. In
addition, now that we are in the Arctic, we have polar day meaning 24h
daylight. Luckily, our cabins are fitted with black-out blinds. We are
due to reach the ice edge on Sunday and our science can start. So stay
tuned for news from the Arctic sea ice as the science begins!