Monday, 7 February 2011

DZ CREW - Jack - 4.0 - Sailing to danger

We left behind the rows of huddled portacabins on King George Island and we were now sailing further south, to even more unfamiliar territory. It was hard to maintain focus on the foreboding task ahead. Normally it was all I could do to stop my mind running through the potential dangers we faced again and again, like an annoying skipping DVD playing images of savage dragon attacks. But right now there was nothing but distractions, massive sculpted frozen distractions, everywhere.

The boat was carving its way through a field of floating ice. It was moving steadily through a thin peninsula and was taking us extremely close to some truly spectacular sights. The weather was obviously cold, but for the moment it was clear. Uncharacteristically the sea was completely calm, allowing the boat, and the countless islands of ice that surrounded it, to float serenely in the frozen landscape.

I was lost in a thoughtless glaze; my brain was just concentrating on looking at the surreal blue colour of a passing iceberg, its shape perfectly reflected in the inky black water, when Harrison threw me out of my serenity.

“We’re almost there.”

His deep voice had almost made me jump but luckily I’d managed to maintain control of my reflex action by gripping slighter tighter on the cold steel rail of the deck. He looked at me as if in two minds, seemingly unsure if he should say something. I quickly found myself wishing he’d just leave me be, let the team do the work and leave me on the ship to just take pictures of the scenery. How much easier my life would be if I could be a photographer for a travel magazine or National Geographic.

Harrison’s voice broke my from my thoughts again, “Jack, we need to head down to the bow to grab our gear. We’re not headed onwards with the rest of the ship. Lewis says we need to make an early exit.”

Lewis’ name almost instantly made me wince. Fortunately I’d managed to avoid him most of the morning since waking up in that horrible, crammed, smelly science hut. Once we had all escaped onto the boat I’d headed straight for the deck and had a much better journey for it. Despite the cold it was always a relief to remove myself from the rest of the crew once in a while. My thoughts returned to what Harrison had just said. I looked up at him and he too seemed to be lost in wonder at the passing ice capped mountains and icebergs.

“Early exit? Where? How?”

Harrison’s expression soon changed from one of amazement to disappointment, even anger, as he returned his attention back to me.

“Gray has experience with boats; we’re taking an off-board motored speedboat to the coast where Lewis has detected a lot of movement on his sensors. He says it’s a good 25 miles further north than where the dragons were originally sighted. But as we know from past experience, that’s not too unusual.”

He collected a thick layer of frost from the frozen railing with a gloved finger, before flicking it casually over the side. “Despite the lizards staying hidden the majority of the time, they have been known to move long distances in short spaces of time. Especially here where there’s no one to hide from.”

I nodded in agreement, that pack of South American Fish Hunters had travelled almost 60 miles further up the Amazon by the time we were able to catch up with them. What a trip that was!

Harrison continued, “So, considering this is Antarctica we’re lucky they haven’t travelled even further than that. It’s been 6 days since the report came in on the website. Seems a little strange actually. You’d think a human stumbling into the herd would make them get well away from the area if they had no limitations on movement.”

I thought about this for a second, somewhat stupidly trying to put myself in the shoes of a dragon. They didn’t even wear shoes!

“Maybe they’ve got something they don’t want to leave behind? Like a home? Or an igloo?”

Harrison didn’t laugh. And neither did Gray as he appeared out of nowhere and stood beside him.

“Igloos are in the Arctic kid.” Gray said it without humour before turning to Harrison, “We need to leave now while the sea’s still calm. It’s not getting off the ship that’ll be tricky if it gets rough, it’ll be getting from the speedboat onto the ice that’ll cause us issues.”

Harrison hit my arm, “Right you heard him, lets move.”

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