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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Among The Ice

We are alone,
Truly alone.
Not a sea bird,
Nor a whale in sight.
That which travels with us
Is unseen.
The sky is nearly gray,
Barely mottled,
Where it meets the sea
There is no horizon,
No stars to shoot
Tonight,
No sun lines
At noon.
Just keep a good DR,
And look for ice.
The penciled ice limit lines
On our charts,
Tell the story.
The word has come
From the ice patrol,
It's there.

The seascape is
Flecked with white.
In the distance,
Every white horse
Is a berg,
A bergy bit,
A growler,
Who knows?
Ice could be hiding
Out there too
In plain sight.
We have radar,
Sonar,
And,
The Mark I eye ball,
All high tech weapons
Of avoidance.
The odds of hitting
A berg
Are tiny,
But the Captain is
On edge because,
He is smart.
“Steak and cake
For the first watch section
To spot a berg.”
Boats asks if that includes
Bergy bits and growlers.
Someone was listening
At lookout training.
For sonar,
It's just another
Underwater object,
For the radar operator,
It's an intermittent
Contact.
For us on the bridge,
It's cold,
Windy,
And everything looks like
A patch of white.

Forward lookout has it first.
Nice.
Radar can only confirm.
Suddenly,
Everyone is out there
For a look.
Just a little white blob
On the horizon.
Weps wants to shoot it,
And why not,
No one owns it.
Train and elevation motors whir,
The gunnery director slews
Above our heads.
Then mount 51 erupts,
Once,
Then once more,
The range is set,
Small as that berg
May be,
We hit her several times,
A berg,
It turns out,
Is quite tough to kill.
From our fire,
She's none the worse
For wear,
Naval gunfire,
Proven once again,
Inadequate
As an ice control system.
Off we go,
Our nose once more
Headed west,
With dreams of lobsters
by the barrel,
Dancing in our chilly heads.
Just three days to
St John, Newfyland.

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