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August 21, 2006

We had an early roll out this morning, awakening at 04:00 to join the pilot boat as it went out to meet our ship in order to safely guide it into harbor.

pilot boat alongside the icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn It was a beautiful morning — cool and calm, with great reflections of the colorful ships in the still, dark waters. The captain of the pilot boat has been doing his job for 29 years. The process is amazing in calm waters, and I can't even imagine it in rough seas. The pilot boat pulls along side the incoming ship and positions itself right up against the hull of the much larger vessel. In just a few seconds, the pilot boat captain transfers onto the ship using only the pilot boat’s rigging and the ship’s rope ladder. And this all happens while the two vessels are still underway! On a busy day, the pilot boat may help as many as 16 ships navigate the fjord into the dock.

The icebreaker Kapitan DranitsynBeing on the pilot boat gave us great views of the entire docking process. Next came the loading of all the scientific equipment and our personal gear onto the Kapitan Dranitsyn. The equipment was hoisted aboard via crane. People's individual gear (including all of our camera equipment, etc.) was carried the old fashioned way, in our arms and on our backs. Several of the teachers jumped in to help us get all our stuff aboard. We used a tiny elevator to get all our things to our cabins on the 8th deck (I had said floor earlier, eliciting the comment, "You haven't spent much time on a ship, have you?”). It was very hot during the loading process. Who knew we would need shorts in the Arctic?

—Mike Dunn



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Kapitan Dranitsyn