When temperatures are over ninety (32.22° C) there is nothing like pictures of sea-ice to cool my crazed brain. Cooling is especially nice if one is politically inclined to scoff at Global Warming as a serious threat, and the sea-ice is proof that Global Warming isn’t happening in the manner proscribed by believers in the “Arctic Death Spiral.” But when sailors are taking the pictures, of the sea-ice I enjoy, there comes a point when the importance of politics fades away, because the photographers are facing death.
Not that one cannot die for political things, and die for their country, or their platoon, or their gang, or their wife, but such sacrifice is beyond the scope of ordinary politics. Ordinary politics, especially in recent times, is far more sleazy and selfish, and, rather than sacrifice, tends to focus on “what is in it for me.” People get busy keeping petty accounts that note how many times they scratched another’s back, and how many back-scratchings they have received and are owed, and if accounts do not seem right, they resort to back-stabbing.
To be honest, it disgusts me. Modern politics has all the spirituality of a leech, and all the love and romance of a cheap business transaction involving the purchase of the daily paper. I increasingly feel that it isn’t only me, and that the public is also disgusted, and cynicism is rife. Cynicism rises up as a king, belittling hope and optimism, until an unlikely redeemer appears, and our common enemy, Death, rises up and waggles his fingers with a friendly, “Hello”.
The reason people sail the Arctic Ocean or climb Mount Everest, rather than staying in a cozy and safe armchair, is because risk is a redeemer.
It is amazing how quickly the threat of extermination will cut to the chase, and get people to get over their differences, and work together. Unfortunately some politicians are adept at misusing this phenomenon, and create false threats to motivate populations to act. For an extreme example, most genocides are based on portraying a minority as a life-threatening threat to a majority, which the majority must rally together to kill.
I am increasingly certain Global Warming is just such a false threat. It’s creators seemingly aim to exterminate opposition to their political agenda, which is an agenda I find repugnant, as an American, because the agenda loathes the liberty of the individual. To cut a long discourse short, the agenda loathes private ownership of anything, seeking to enforce brotherhood with a club.
The Agenda dislikes mothers nourishing their babes, because Family Values are charity, which begins at home, because a man’s home is his castle, and even such a little patriotism as that is a threat to internationalism, which loathes patriotism of any sort. Therefore internationalists twist a mother’s love into being a sort of hate: If you love the baby God gave you then you are not being equal and fair to some child starving far away, and this makes you a racist.
In like manner internationalists loathe the love a man displays when he goes to the trouble to open a small business. As soon as a man steps from being a person who works for another to being a man hiring workers, he becomes slime. He is a “boss”, as if that is an evil.
In conclusion, internationalists in their ivory towers can become the enemy of love, in any sort of normal and natural form love has, that street-people can relate to. Rather internationalists profess the love of Stalin, who is said to have subscribed to the idea that, “The death of one is a tragedy; the death of a million is a statistic.”
In other words, “It is the big things that matter; little people can be damned.”
This is fundamentally different from the American idea that, “All men are created equal.”
Americans believe, if they examine themselves, that a mother nursing her babe is equal to a Stalin, with all his might and all his power. Furthermore, she has the same single vote Stalin has, and the same control of our destiny. Stalin can bluster all he wants, muttering, “The ends justify the means” and, “Might makes right” and, (write in here any other justifications for bullying you desire). Still that poor mother has the power of Stalin, if America lives up to Her dream.
Global Warming is an attempt to create a false threat, because its creators know mothers will sacrifice their own well-being for the well-being of their babies. However it is a threat born of the cynical genius of politics, which has outlived its shelf-life.
Where a snake-oil salesman knows when to depart a town in a hurry, and seek a new town where the population is gullible and naive, the perpetrators of the Global Warming alarm have no place to run; they have sold their snake-oil too widely; it is a case where they have no place to hide and internationalism has become a bad thing even for internationalists, for even remote Eskimos know all about Global Warming. The sheer, grinding nastiness of their cynicism has created a cynical populace, which increasingly doubts everything politicians and the Media claims.
Death is quite another matter. When it waggles its fingers at you, you are not the slightest bit cynical.
This was most especially obvious during the 1800’s in the age of sail. With members of a crew liable to be washed overboard or die of scurvy, captains had to hire new crew-members from alien cultures. And, within the pages of writings such as “Moby Dick”, it is obvious that crew-members of very different racial, political, cultural and religious backgrounds would drop all their differences, when the alternative, (to working together as a team), was death.
This is something the Sea teaches much better than the Land does. Stalin tried to teach with bullying death, but his schools always involved barbed wire, gulags and fences. The Sea spits on the very idea of fences. In fact it is the opposite, for it offers freedom.
But freedom isn’t free. It involves risk. It involves going to Sea.
This is what the good ship “Northabout” has done. Gone to Sea. Sure, they left port all puffed with a bloated political agenda about Global Warming, but the Sea slaps your naive preconceptions away with the first storm, when it lays you as low as a dog, with sea-sickness. After that, they could have turned back, but now they are heading into considerable risk, as they attempt to slip through sea-ice.
When such ice appears ahead, do you think inanimate ice cares what political party you belong to? If you believe Professor Peter Wadhams, when he makes his yearly headlines stating the Pole will be ice-free this summer, do you think the sea-ice will part like the Red Sea, to let you through?
Apparently not. The sea-ice does not read the New York Times or attend Professor Peter’s lectures. Therefore, because the sea does not agree, you are in a pickle, with your way blocked. You must trust the courage of your captain, and your own ability to be a good crew. And perhaps you do find a weakness in the wall of ice:
When your captain finds a gap in the ice, it may be like the gap between the teeth of a shark’s open mouth. After all, each berg only represents the “Tip of an iceberg.” The slightest berg, to the upper right, may only extend six inches above the water, but nearly five feet (56 inches) extend downwards. And that is but the smallest chip. How about that bigger berg off the starboard bow? It sticks up four or five feet, which in theory means it should stick down 36 or 45 feet, but these burgs are not always symmetrical with their mass, and sometimes the below-water part can stick sideways 36 or 45 feet. It could hole your hull. In other words, this is no Sunday sail the crew of the Northabout are on, over velvet waters, after church. This is for real. What if the shark’s teeth close?
Oh shit. This is no joke, anymore.
Now I am sure some are tempted to sneer, “Where’s your ice-free Pole now, suckers?” However this is no Professor Peter we are dealing with, getting rich by being politically correct in a fat-cat armchair, and pretending to be a prophet, and announcing the Pole will be ice-free in
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016.
Instead these are very real people. They are not sitting on obese posteriors in some plush. leather Lazyboy, pontificating upon polar conditions from far away places. They are actually in those far away places. They are actually battling the ice that isn’t suppose to be there. They are actually gathering the actual data. In fact, in a worse case scenario, they could be killed by the actual data.
Therefore, rather than sneering, I suggest we do a bit of praying. Let us drop the stupid politics until they cross the Laptev Sea. Once they are safe, then, if they insist upon resuming their political nonsense, we will meet their nonsense blow for blow.
Were it not for individuals who dare test the waters, we’d be all sitting in our armchairs believing the media’s claptrap about how ice-free the arctic is.
Rather than sneering at “Northabout” and calling them a “Ship of Fools”, we should be thanking the crew for facing waters we don ‘t dare face. At the very least, they are showing the “ice-free” waters have icebergs, and they themselves have guts.
That fellow in red is a “man overboard”, in water that is salty and at, or below. freezing, and can kill a person in five minutes if they fall in. Just who does he think he is, standing on the water? Jesus? No. He is just a working man trying to get to that open water barely visible in the upper right of the picture.
They made it, and crept along the shores, which were ice-free because the southwest winds blew the ice away from shore. This is called a “Polynya”, and does not mean the ice by the shore is melted, but rather it is moved away. (Northabout located where the white arrow is:)
However in these “ice free” waters you can come across not only sea-ice, but bergs taller than your highest mast..
I find this berg fascinating. It isn’t sea-ice and it isn’t locally grown. I want to take dirt samples. Is it from Greenland’s glaciers? And how did it wind up across the Arctic Sea in the Laptev Sea, when official maps of currents state “you can’t get there from here”? Also why is the geology of the berg’s ice so odd, with horizontal strata and slanting strata?
But the captain doesn’t care a hoot about that. He just sees that open water to the upper left, and also knows big bergs are dangerous. In theory, if they are 40 feet tall, they stick down 360 feet, but as I said earlier they can stick sideways rather than down. Also, because “bottom melt” can exceed “top melt” in August, such bergs can become top-heavy, with their bottoms melted, and can suddenly capsize and what was the bottom can come surging up as the top plunges down. This can be dangerous to a small boat squeezing by.
The good ship Northabout has faced days of dangers, but now a new danger appears. Winds may shift to the north for a brief time. It may be only twelve hours. But all the ice will come grinding south and threaten to crunch a small boat against the shore. So perhaps the captain dodges backwards, to seek a safe place for twelve hours, after which, perhaps, the south winds will resume and allow sailing east again.
I will not criticize these gutsy sailors, and instead I will find a private place to whisper a few politically incorrect prayers that they experience safety.
Professor Peter Wadham is another matter. He stated the arctic would be ice free this summer. I will privately pray he meets an iceberg inland, in England.
SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE
They made three attempts to get through the ice yesterday, all in vain. Likely they wanted to get east before a storm hit with north winds. The last thing they want is to be stuck in the ice with the ice moving in gale force winds. It is quite hard enough in a calm.
All their attempts brought them back to where they started.
The closest thing they could find to a safe anchorage was a so-called “stamukha”, which is a berg that has been pushed onto shallow water by a storm and is grounded. This particular chunk of ice appears to be genuine sea-ice, and not a large chunk calved from a glacier. It looks like multi-year-ice, either piled up to a pressure ridge where it now remains, or piled up to a pressure ridge somewhere else and driven ashore.
From the safety of my armchair I want to take samples of the dirt on the berg. It might be from a mountain, which would prove the ice was from a glacier. It might be soot from China’s coa;-fired power plants, or from a volcano, concentrated at the bottom of a melt-water pool and then refrozen into the ice. Or it might be alge that grows on the bottom of the ice, and then is frozen into the ice when the ice gets thicker in the winter, or put at the tip of the ice when the ice is flipped like a pancake.
The captain has other concerns, with winds picking up. Will this berg stay grounded in a storm? Will it shelter them from other bergs moving in the storm?
They likely have endured a long, sleepless night, and I’m awaiting this morning report with a degree of anxiety. All I can say is that there is no sign of movement yet.
ON THE MOVE AGAIN. They got started at around 7:00 AM EST, which I guess is early afternoon for them, and so far they have made it east about half the distance they probed three times yesterday.
BREAKTHROUGH! Yesterday they commented that if only could get through the three miles of ice there would be clear sailing all the way to Bristol. I think that may be a bit overly optimistic. But they may find things easier at least to the far side of the Lena River Delta. (The Lena is at peak flood in August, pouring massive amounts of summer-warmed waters into the Laptev Sea.)
DUCK AND COVER
All day I have found myself sneaking to peek at the “Tracking Map” to see how the Northabout is doing. The skipper is amazing. I can’t see how he hasn’t gone aground, he has sailed so close to shore. I figured they had penetrated the blocking ice, and therefore was surprised to see them abruptly turn back.
Seeking a reason, I checked the forecast. Hmm. Looks like they are in for a bit of a blow. The skipper is wise to seek a safe anchorage.
Excellent post, as always!
I think they are in trouble now, they speed is 0 km/h and strong wind is blowing from north:
https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-NLJ8pPW3K1k/V61x-XhzlvI/AAAAAAAAApA/P3KTOjuhlgYQ2zqmb58SYLpY2Ma0pM4sACLcB/s640/szel.gif and pushing the ice toward the shore!
I’m following them, and here is my post about this expedition, with updates, it is in hungarian but the pictures are understandable for everyone:
The last motion gif from my Update-5 is the tomorrow morning forecast, until then they will challenge northerly winds!
That looks like an excellent post! You did a very good job of covering their journey step by step. I learned a thing or two I didn’t already know. (My “translate key” tends to mangle Hungarian, but I get the general idea of your report.)
Best wishes! Keep up the great work!
Thanks! My best wishes to you and them too!
I linked to your post over at Tony Heller’s Realclimatescience.com site, so you may be getting some visitors from this side of the Pond.
Thanks for sharing your reflections. It is good to take a sea-faring perspective and remind of the brotherhood of all those who go to sea, for whatever reason. There is a war over the global warming delusion, but when a ship goes down in battle, you pick up the survivors.
Well said Caleb, thanks.
I’m glad you caught my drift and enjoyed it. Sometimes my mind leaps about and is hard to follow. When I reread this post I already can see connections I need to improve upon.
It is interesting (to me at least) how many ideas can spring from a yacht attempting the Northeast Passage.
When man decides to do something foolish “to prove himself,” I tend not to be overly sympathetic. If he decides to walk a wire between two buildings or climb a mountain in the face of an oncoming storm or to show his metal by swimming across a shark infested channel, “to prove themselves to be the master of nature,” I tend to lack a capacity “to connect” with them.
These gentlemen aboard this ship are, really, no different, other than they are doing it to “prove something,” If I pray for them it would be that they “learn” from their experience, but the truth is, should they succeed and complete their passage, I somehow doubt that they truly will learn from it since they “proved their point” by surviving. Yes, they will probably have greater respect for the hazards that they faced, but truly, will they have learned that they actually didn’t prove anything they intended to?
Like a mountain climber, to bring it closer to home, that climbed Mt. Washington in a winter storm, will he decide that he has faced his devil and be satisfied, or will he decide that he needs to prove himself yet again, but this time on the Matterhorn? Will these sailors, should they survive their journey, decide that they have proved that the Arctic is a dangerous place for a small boat, or will they decide that to “prove themselves and their position,” they need to do it yet again?
I sincerely hope they are successful, even as I was hoping “The Ship of Fools” would survive, but I fear that just like “The Ship of Fools,” they will not accept the gift from God that is their survival, and walk away with a new reality – that climate changes, yes, and that we have no control over it or what it will become. My guess is that yes, they will accept the gift, but they won’t truly acknowledge it, but will continue to “believe” in their “climate religion.”
Thanks for your thoughtful reply. You have me thinking along some new lines.
I myself went on some dangerous trips at sea when I was young and stupid. As you say, my survival seemed “a gift from God”, though some would call it “sheer, dumb luck.” I came out of the experiences a changed person, though it took me some time to brood upon all the bumps and bruises the reality of the Sea put on my ego. I suppose it is because I changed that I take the optimistic view that others will get over their stubbornness, and will change. In some cases I suppose I’ll be right, and in others I’ll be sadly wrong.
I do a lot of thinking about the wisdom of risk-taking. Because my wife and I run a childcare at our farm I am constantly faced by small children “testing the limits”, and notice how my staff can turn into schoolmarms, constantly saying, “No! No! No!” In the case of some kids, this only challenges them, and also gives them a new limit to test, and a new risk to face: “The wrath of the Schoolmarm.”
Eventually I suppose I’ll write a post about when risk-taking is good, and when it is not, but one thing I tell my staff is that without risk-taking there would be no voyages of discovery, and no new business would ever be ventured.
This is not to say creating a safe place is not also good. Security does not have to be the enemy of adventure. Even pirates like to have a port they can come home to, and even Vikings liked to bring their loot back to the farm.
My current worry about the Northabout is whether they’ll make it home.
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I added some maps for context, along with a link to this post.
Thanks. Some folk have dropped by from your site.
I think it is important to visit a number of sites, (though I tend to bite my lip and merely “lurk” at some sites). Different minds see different views, and often offer insights we’d miss, working alone.
Excellent posting Caleb, Ron etc
My wife isn’t pleased that my deck reno is slow because of you guys but I’m enjoying myself 😉
I’m having the same problem. I’m suppose to be cleaning up after the wedding, but keep sneaking to peak at the whereabouts of the Northabout.
I think they have made it!
The gate is opening, here is the 3 day forecast from the russian ice-chart site:
And you can see on the first map, wich was the forecast for today, that along the shore the ice is 10-30%. That’s why they have made the progress!
They would do well if conditions were calm, but I think they are nervous about a brewing gale with storm-force gusts. They need to seek shelter.
I can’t help admire these sailors, even if I think their science and politics are shallow.
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