For the first twelve hours all but Ginsbergbear were seasick. He swore by the preventative properties of his Black Alamout Catnip Shag, which he packed into a cracked and burn-scarred churchwarden, but the foul fug did little for his comrades. Ginger biscuits were consumed in vast number – and alleviated the worst of the nausea. Bert Wold retired to his bunk with a bucket and was not seen to move in two days. Once the miseries of mal de mer were behind them (for most it goes off as suddenly as it comes on) our heroes began to savour the seagoing experience. Ginsbergbear had found a sheltered spot between the funnel and lifeboat where he was well into a second hand hardback of Moby Dick. Phoebles had discovered that the galley was warm and the cook often appreciated his culinary advice. There was a great deal of fish on the menu. For Ferdy it was the bridge, where he had befriended the Third Hand, one Bill Tate, who had a Yorkshire tan that stopped at neck and wrist and who had sailed the Arctic from Greenland to the White Sea, Norway to Bear Island, Svalbard, and beyond. Bill imparted some of his knowledge of helmsmanship and navigation and at night they watched the shimmering green veils of the northern lights playing above them. Boz liked the deck best, the salty sea smells, the waves rushing by, the dolphins and terns and gulls. He wished they were in warmer oceans with the flying fish of which he’d read; he’d always wanted to see flying fish. Flying coleyfish would be nice, he mused. Strawberry had taken to playing cards with the crew in the foetid foc’sle where he discussed politics and engendered a degree of unrest. Bert had still not arisen from his bunk.
On the third day they began to encounter growlers and bergy bits, manageable chunks of floating ice. On their fourth morning they woke to find the whole ship encrusted in sparkling, sugary ice. The day was bright and clear and very cold; along the northern horizon shone a glaring thin white line.
“We are there. That is the ice-pack,” announced the skipper.