To look at it, the slush of ice and bergy bits doesn’t look like much. Unfortunately for us, the reality is something quite different.
All of that floating ice is actually an impenetrable, 300 yard long field of slush. The sun, which had been bright and cheery when we arrived at the beach, was now fading behind grey clouds as the wind picked up. I took stock of the 80 passengers we still had on the beach. They had no idea what we were in for.
Our expedition leader and the zodiac drivers were strategizing over the radio. I knew that my job would be to keep everyone else happily distracted. Two hours turned to four, and then to six. The tide went out and we began ferrying people across a small rock bridge. We had to be careful. If someone fell in, we couldn’t warm them up.
The tide came back in and 20 of us remained on the beach. Our forty-five minute landing had turned into eight hours.
Finally something shifted. A small channel opened through the ice. We didn’t waste a moment.
It was 10 hours before we were all back on the ship. The staff sank into the lounge chairs, sipping hot toddies. All of us knew how lucky we were to be back, and how grateful we should be to each other that not a single passenger seemed to realize just how dangerous that landing had been.