A report from our Arctic correspondent, John Cumberland.
Location: Svalbard: August ’11.
We’re happily bobbing around in our Zodiac in the middle of an Arctic fjord against a backdrop of three colossal glaciers that ‘calve’ noisily and create mini tsunamis with blue icebergs the size of articulated lorries, bouncing around and sometimes rolling over. The water beneath us is a gorgeous shade of aquamarine and a chilly 10C.
Pete, one of our so-called ‘expert’ guides, is in ‘Viking mode’ sitting on the prow of our flimsy vessel enthusiastically searching out a seal here, a bird there, was that a bear in the distance? Then suddenly, a splash. A very loud splash. He’s in the water! He’s actually in the bloody water! His camera and 500mm lens remain on the zodiac, somewhat lonely, on the prow. But Cairns himself is completely submerged! His lifejacket automatically inflates, just as it should but whilst returning him to the icy surface, nearly throttles him in the process. Chaos reins. ‘Belfast Annie’, sitting on the starboard side, is in no mood to see our Viking hero float off into oblivion. Adrenaline pumping, she leans over the side and grabs Pete in the neck region clamping him firmly to the side of the Zodiac. As her spectacles steam up, Pete is heard to say, over and over again , “Annie, I am trying to get my leg over!” This sounds to Annie like one of the best offers she’s had in years and so her grip tightens on her Viking hero. While those of us on the port side balance the Zodiac (and if truth be told take as many pictures as we can), calm Swedish Captain Dan intervenes and soon Pete is safely back on board.
Pete becomes the subject of great concern (that doesn’t stop us taking yet more pictures) but our bedraggled leader remains cheerful and Annie helpfully points out the similarity between Pete’s inflated lifejacket and a ‘Double D’ bra that’s somehow got caught around his neck. Spitting out several mouthfuls of Arctic brine, Pete admits to feeling somewhat foolish, or words to that effect. A hollow, unsympathetic, chuckle is heard from our sister zodiac which Pete immediately recognises as the voice of his (supposedly) best mate, Mark Hamblin. We all vow that he should be next for a dunking!
On returning to the mother ship, Pete is soon restored to warmth and his usual level of exuberance. Never mind, you can’t have everything!
This was John Cumberland, Northshots News, The Arctic.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are not necessarily shared by Northshots and are clearly those of an individual who derives satisfaction from the misfortune of others.