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Any sea voyage to Svalbard has the potential to incur rough seas and all the drama of pounding waves, remorselessly beating the ship from side to side. And the seas of the Arctic are quite certainly not totally immune to the powers of wind and wave even in mid- summer and any voyage may possibly result in at least one day’s sailing when the seas around the boat are whipped up and have no resemblance whatsoever to the waters of a mill pond. But such a day can be quite exhilarating if you can heed the advice once received from my Mother that ‘you cannot be sick in an open boat.’
Whether this is factually true or not it has served me in good stead and as long as I am out on the deck, I have luckily never experienced even a twinge of sea induced nausea. I have found the most wonderful and awe-inspiring sense of the power of nature as I watch the waves forming into giant peaks like whipped cream across the water’s surface, only to come crashing down onto the sides of the ship. And then the sky at such times with storm clouds racing across the firmament as if in some madcap horse race whose winning post must surely be at the other end of the earth. The spray from those breaking waves washes my face but no matter; they say salt is good for you but not sure if this advice includes one’s complexion! Never mind though, as one thing is certain out here in the wilderness of the Arctic, no-one is expected, nor would surely wish to appear with the appearance and dress of a film star although moisturising sun-cream never comes amiss! And what contrived appearance could possibly begin to compete with the glorious and ever-changing appearance of the scenery all around, be it on days of calm or storm?
Eventually in the way of such things the storm abated, the waves diminished, the wind ceased its howling and the balance of the boat was restored to a more even level.
And then as each day grew old we were yet again treated to all the beauty of an Arctic night which never really darkens, and one can sit into the wee small hours of a new day bathed in that oh so restful glowing half- light. Going to bed seemed such a terrible waste of time and most only resorted to the arms of Morpheus, the god of dreams, at an hour which back at home would have been considered unthinkable. Long relaxed hours chatting, quaffing the odd glass of wine or mug of tea, reliving the adventures of the day, sharing life histories, comparing the photos taken or simply sitting in companionable silence drinking in the elixir of beauty and peace.
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