Author Topic: Ultima Thule  (Read 1026 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Galicia–Volhynia

  • African Union
  • Advanced Nation
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,309
  • World Relations: 10
  • Nec pluribus impar
Ultima Thule
« on: January 10, 2013, 08:03:19 AM »
Soft, white snow fluttered down from the still grey sky, covering everything in a thick coat of white - as far as the eye could see. Reaching its way out of the blanketing cover of snow, stood Murmanni - the City in the Arctic Circle - its grey urban sprawl vainly fighting against the unyielding snow driven in from across the polar sea.

At the city's port, as the snow fluttered down, sailors and soldiers in thick winter furs milled about as resting in the harbour, ships were refuelled and resupplied for long winter's journeys. Though most of the vessels were flagged as Finnish naval ships, one of the larger ones stood out for its civilian crew and flag: the MV Arktis - an ice-breaker operated by the University of Helsinki on behalf of the Bureau of Arctic Affairs. Its crew were also getting ready for a voyage eastwards into the foreboding Kara Sea; for earlier that day the announcement of a new Arctic expedition was made, with the MV Arktis leading the way, owing to its bulbous bow that could shatter the polar ice that covered the sea.

Its redoubtable captain, Einar Tuompo - a veteran of the last major Finnish expedition to Pohjoismaa, stood on the gangway of his ship brusquely ordering his crew to make their final preparations before departure. His crew of approximately twenty would be joined by a number of researchers from the University, again many of whom had previously travelled further east to the almost-unknown Pohjoismaa.

On this new expedition to a veritable Ultima Thule, Tuompo's ship would be part of a convoy consisting of three ships, two of which were naval vessels: the research ship Nordenskiöld and the frigate Matti Kurki; both of which were in the harbour alongside the Arktis.

Suddenly, a tremendous blast from the whistle of the Matti Kurki signalled that it was time to set sail. With much commotion, the gangways of the Arktis were pulled and the crew raced to their positions. Slowly, the gracefully outline of the Matti Kurki slipped its moorings and turned out into the harbour, followed closely by the Arktis, and behind it the research vessel named for the famous Arctic explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld. As the Arktis slowly overtook the frigate in order to lead the way through the ice floes that covered the Arctic Ocean, the snow suddenly stopped falling - many of the Arktis' crew thought this an auspicious omen for their journey ahead.
Ще не вмерли України ні слава ні воля

(Formerly Finland)

Offline Galicia–Volhynia

  • African Union
  • Advanced Nation
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,309
  • World Relations: 10
  • Nec pluribus impar
Re: Ultima Thule
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2013, 10:22:48 AM »
The weather worsened as the convoy made its way northeast into the Barents Sea, strong winds and heavy snowfall made the convoy’s progress steadily slow; yet concerning the pack ice, the bulbous hull of the Arktis made light work of the ice covering the sea, rolling in the waves. Owing to the nature of ice-breaking ships, with each thrust into the pack ice, the Arktis would shudder violently, the mass of ice surrounding the ship noisily breaking. Fortunately for the crews of the two other ships, the journey through the Barents Sea was easier going since not only had the Arktis successfully and safely cleared a path through the pack ice, but unlike the icebreaker, both of the other ships had better stability which minimised the often frequent rolling the ships suffered as they neared the Arctic Circle.

On the bridge of the Arktis, Captain Tuompo and his first mate, Sigmund Dagsland, were surveying the almost-unending expanse of greyish-white sea ice that stretched from here out to the furthest east.
“Frightening and yet beautiful, isn’t it?” Tuompo mused, “Sealed off from the rest of the oceans, this ice keeps a steady and silent watch over the Arctic. I remember our journey to Pohjoismaa – awful sailing until Uusi Maa. This ship rolls in even the calmest waters, but look at the way she sails through this ice floe.”

As Tuompo finished, a blast from the ship’s whistle alerted the crew to a change of watch. Dagsland checked his wristwatch but remained on deck with his captain. Dagsland too had sailed to Pohjoismaa but as Tuompo had said, the sailing until at least Vuoreija had been awful going. The icebreaker pitched about in all sorts of conditions, leaving many of even the most seasoned crew rather ill.

“I remember too,” Dagsland replied, “And it’s good to be back out at sea again with you Captain.”

“Well,” Tuompo smiled, “Remember that once we’re trapped in the sea ice without way of returning to Finland. I know your wife will kill me.” He laughed and then continued, “To be a part of that mission to claim Pohjoismaa for Finland gave me such pride – mind you, I’m not a patriotic person per se, but doing something like this, safeguarding the Arctic for our future, for Finland’s future, gives me a sense of purpose my usual life hasn’t.”

Dagsland did not reply but merely nodded his agreement, he often left Tuompo to talk aloud to himself when he decided to discuss more philosophical matters, not that Dagsland didn’t care, it was that he saw this more as a job to be done rather than as serving a higher call.

It would be approximately three or four days sailing at this gentle pace before the convoy reached Belushya Guba – Beluga Whale Bay – and there really wasn’t much else to do. Dagsland didn’t share the scientists accompanying the expedition’s enthusiasm for Arctic geology or even the untouched treasure trove of natural resources that lay beneath the sea bed; he was a man of rather simple tastes: his father sailed, as did his grandfather, and great-grandfather, his uncle, brother, and two cousins. The Dagsland family were tied to the sea – this was who they were, who he was. This journey was just that: a part of his life he would always carry with him.
Ще не вмерли України ні слава ні воля

(Formerly Finland)

Offline Galicia–Volhynia

  • African Union
  • Advanced Nation
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,309
  • World Relations: 10
  • Nec pluribus impar
Re: Ultima Thule
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2013, 01:55:07 PM »
As far as the eye could see, the black night covered everything in darkness; its mantle of darkness was only pierced by the high-energy searchlights, their concentrated beams of light only able to illuminate a fraction of the inky-black waters and creaking ice floes that obscured the way to Novaya Zemlya. The icy wind forced the temperature below minus ten degrees; flurries of snow danced in the glare of the searchlights, stirred to dance by the chill winds. Icicles formed on the rails of the ships.

On the bridge, Captain Tuompo watched impassively as the convoy slowly made its way through the ice, the floes were still prevalent and made the convoy slow in travelling eastwards. Tuompo checked his watch; it was thirty minutes past nine, evening though it was as dark now as it was at three in the afternoon.

Tuompo, weary now of the ever-present and unchanging view from the bridge over the Arctic Sea summoned his reliable first mate and friend, Sigmund Dagsland to a board on which were the charts pertaining to their voyage.

“Captain,” Dagsland asked, “Surely you should get some rest. Vasara and I will manage the bridge until your watch.”

Tuompo shook his head, “I’ll sleep later – we’re getting closer and I want to catch a glimpse of our destination before I sleep.”

“We’re still a few days out,” Dagsland replied, consulting the charts, “The ice has been too thick to sail quickly, not to mention the problems with the Siika. I estimate another two, three days before sighting land.”

Tuompo nodded; Dagsland’s observation was correct: they were indeed at least two more days out from the island chain, and yet Tuompo did not want to retire. This voyage had stirred a spirit of adventurousness within him, and seeing the austere beauty of the Arctic enchanted him.

“Isn’t the polar night utterly marvellous? To think, the sun will barely shine for at least another month or more,” Tuompo mused, not to anyone in particular.

“Aye Captain,” Dagsland responded, he knew Tuompo was prone to musings out loud, and so indulged him slightly.

The convoy sailed onwards into the night, the only sounds were the creaking and cracking of the ice as the hull of the M/V Arktis forced its way through the ice floe.  Tuompo sighed briefly, “I’ll retire for the night. Vasala and you are more than capable to keep watch until first light, summon me immediately at dawn. Until then, goodnight Sigmund!”

The first mate nodded as the captain stepped off the bridge and retired, leaving the bridge with only five men present. Dagsland would be in charge but he saw there was no need for any orders, the crew would do their jobs silently and dutifully until first light, then the warm embrace of sleep would come, as the night continued on into the new day.
Ще не вмерли України ні слава ні воля

(Formerly Finland)