Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Other Side of the Ice by Sprague Theobald @TheobaldSprague #AmReading #Memoir #Climate

As we rolled into the next day and the sun was illuminating the fog around us, Dominique saw an extremely large target that wasn’t moving, especially out of our way. The persistent, heavy fog that had settled in around 2 a.m. gave an ethereal feel to a light not quite twilight or dawn. Yet what was now showing up on the radar four miles to the north was so large neither fog nor low light could hide it; our first official sighting of an ice- berg was an amazingly impressive one in that this berg had to have been at least a thousand feet long and more than 100 feet high. The fog was playing tricks in that first this “thing” was there, then it wasn’t. When I could see it, my immediate impression of the massive hulk in the fog was that of an aircraft carrier. It had to be, nothing was that big and tall and actually moved.
As there wasn’t sufficient light to photograph it, Dominique and I went through every possibility we could so that we could define it for the others as they revolved into the watch schedule; there were no rectangular, steep-sided islands charted for the area and it was too irregular to be any sort of cargo ship. Looking at it through the glasses, we could see the jagged and rough outline it presented against the northern sky. There was no doubting that it was truly a mountain of ice. And, as the minutes ticked by, our sighting was confirmed by the presence of several others—albeit not half as large— mini-islands of ice. By now all were up and crammed into the pilothouse, all with cameras in hand and soft exclamations about the size and power of these giants. The first sighting of ice is one that I will never forget. It’s no exaggeration when I realized that the icebergs held power, strength, drive, and a presence that could truly not care less about who you are or where it is you
want to go. They travel along silently. Seas break against their frozen and rock-hard surfaces, exploding with furious impotence as this massive structure of blue-brown-white ice keeps its determined course. Yet, as we were to learn, their presence wasn’t always known. A few hours later, I’d rotated out of watch and was below cleaning up when I heard Dominique say from the pilothouse, “Jesus, that one didn’t even show up on radar.”
It was hard to ignore such a comment so I went up to join her and immediately saw that we were now in the company of many more of these floating, silent icy sentinels and, sure enough, a particularly large one about three miles off our bows failed to register even as much as a blip on the radars. Yet some smaller ones, perhaps the size of Volkswagen Beetles, stood out bright and conspicuous on the green electronic screens.
All through that foggy morning, as many sets of eyes that were available were glued to either one of the two radars as ice targets and bearings were called out to the helmsman of the hour.
No exaggeration to say there were five sets of nerves on a knife edge. As the hours ticked by and the heat of the morning sun started to cook off some of the fog, we became more accustomed to the ice and a bit emboldened. I asked Clinton to take us closer to a particularly large iceberg that had amazing shapes, ledges, tiny waterfalls, and brilliant deep, ice-blue colors glowing from within. Very capably and with great precision, Clinton all but driftedBagan up to this massive berg.
On the grand scale of things, it was far from massive but when you’re in a boat one-tenth its size, it fit the definition of “massive.”

A sailor and his family’s harrowing and inspiring story of their attempt to sail the treacherous Northwest Passage.
Sprague Theobald, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and expert sailor with over 40,000 offshore miles under his belt, always considered the Northwest Passage–the sea route connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific–the ultimate uncharted territory. Since Roald Amundsen completed the first successful crossing of the fabled Northwest Passage in 1906, only twenty-four pleasure craft have followed in his wake. Many more people have gone into space than have traversed the Passage, and a staggering number have died trying. From his home port of Newport, Rhode Island, through the Passage and around Alaska to Seattle, it would be an 8,500-mile trek filled with constant danger from ice, polar bears, and severe weather.

What Theobald couldn’t have known was just how life-changing his journey through the Passage would be. Reuniting his children and stepchildren after a bad divorce more than fifteen years earlier, the family embarks with unanswered questions, untold hurts, and unspoken mistrusts hanging over their heads. Unrelenting cold, hungry polar bears, and a haunting landscape littered with sobering artifacts from the tragic Franklin Expedition of 1845, as well as personality clashes that threaten to tear the crew apart, make The Other Side of the Ice a harrowing story of survival, adventure, and, ultimately, redemption.

TO WATCH THE OFFICIAL HD TEASER FOR “The Other Side of The Ice” [book and documentary] PLEASE GO TO: VIMEO.COM/45526226) 

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Genre – Memoir, adventure, family, climate
Rating – PG
More details about the author
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