Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Raft people #3. Ice sailing.

 After restocking while their raft was docked in a narrow channel in the ice, the weather turned bitterly cold. The crew spent most of their time in the insulated, (a padded canvas wraparound), and heated cabin. They soon realized however that they would be frozen into the ice for a long time because the water was freezing all around them. After an immense effort using block and tackle they slid the raft up onto the rapidly thickening ice. The metal keels beneath the raft made this easier and after an uneasy night in the cabin feeling the raft stir beneath them in the blustery gale they realized that after a few more days to let the ice thicken up they could hoist sail and set off downwind, sliding on the metal blades of the keels.

The wind held, it stayed very cold, and one morning they levered the raft around to the direction they wished to travel, hoisted the bateau onto the foredeck, unfurled the sail, and...sat there. The blades had stuck to the ice. More levering and rocking and suddenly the raft began to sail. It was a mad scramble to get aboard, and the raft began to move so much faster than they had ever experienced on water. Try as they might the steering oar made scant difference to direction. They were on a fast, one way, undirected flight across the snow covered ice. Bumpy! I should say!

Far from shore, rocketing along on the slick pebbled surface, swept up in a snowstorm it was a time for the crew to be terrified at what they had initiated, or terrifically exhilarated. What lay ahead? This was once again all new waters they were sailing on. “No, Ice!” they said. As the unusual rattling voyage went on and on it eventually became normal and, as no imminent disaster loomed ahead, they became swept up in their adventure.

Far from land, hour after hour, the raft hurtled along, within the small circle of visibility in the blizzard. The lookout screamed a warning as the raft brushed against a stalk of bullrush, crashed over some leaves frozen into the ice, slowed down and finally came to rest partially tilted in a harbour of leaves. The crew were dismayed for a moment and then realized that they had made a soft landing after all and were safe from further harm. Where there were rushes there must be land nearby and running at top speed into a frozen cliff would have been a disaster. Thanks to the Gods!

1 comment:

Ernst Göran Westlund said...

You have great feelings for your little people on the raft :-D