Report 3: Snatching ice

Report 3: Snatching ice

1_We the decks boys had been warned. We should not set our minds on quickly sailing into the warm sun. And indeed, no sooner than reaching Land’s End and the North Atlantic, we set all sails and headed in WNW direction toward Hudson Bay.

It soon became uncomfortably wet and cold. The reasons for this course were soon obvious. To better protect our supplies, we needed to cool them with ice. Each one of us understood that. It took three long days, until we saw the first icebergs. The ship sailed cautiously toward one of the giants that was as flat as a flounder, and went alongside. Then, a large gangway was brought out. The starboard watch, ‘Alfa’ (SW-A) secured the moorings of the ship with the iceberg.

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‘Charly’ (BW-C), the port watch should salvage chunks of ice from the iceberg. It was my responsibility, as well as that of the entire watch SW-Bravo to transport obtainable ice. The ice blocks had to be moved several hundred meters, which often succeeded only by pushing them. During the ice pushing event we started to sweat, even in cold air. I accepted it with great pleasure, because the poor guys in the ‘Delta’ port watch had to carry the ice on board to the provision and refrigerated rooms on their shoulders. Some were really large chunks. I could still remember the sacks on my shoulders from my very first 15 minutes on this ship’s deck!

The whole maneuver lasted nearly four hours and ‘all-hands’ eagerly set all sails on the ship already on course heading South. Just get out of here and do not fall into the water. About 1000 nautical miles to the west of us in 1912 the Titanic sank on April 12, 1912.

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Even in warm summer time, a bath in the ocean was not appealing. Only the starboard watch, Bravo remained on deck. I had to stand for the next hour lookout near the bow, while all others except the helmsman, were drinking hot coffee, made by the cook’s mate.

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