8 September, 1997

Another day has passed and a decision about our course has not been made. The helicopter tried to do an ice recognizance but had to return to the ship because of poor visibility and icing of his rotors. A large plane is expected to fly out of Resolute today to survey ice conditions, based on that data the captain will make a decision and the ship will proceed. We know there is ice in all directions and whichever way we go, it won't be a quick trip. Although the Louis is an icebreaker, she tries to either avoid ice when possible or plot a course where it is thinnest. Plowing through multiyear ice is hard on the ship and uses large amounts of fuel.

What makes our route passable is that we are moving through a series of channels and straits between large islands. The northeast prevailing winds and the three to six foot tidal range also work in our favor. The tides constantly break the ice that forms around the islands and the wind blows the chunks to the south. These chunks tend to raft on top of each other and ridges up to 60 feet thick have been recorded. One of the responsibilities of the ice observer is to make certain we don't hit these ice ridges! The positive side is that there are often leads around the large ice packs where the ship can navigate. The down side is that the leads are also constantly changing and don't allow for a direct route to our distention. The shortest distance between two points may be a straight path but on an icebreaker that ís usually not the quickest route.


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