John Gareri

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The Geographic North Pole

12 Jul 2012 - 90° 00’ North, Wind 16kt from 220°, Air -3°C, 0 nautical mile to the North Pole. THE NORTH POLE!! Reached at 1:30am. 30% average 1st year ice 0.8-1.2m. 60% thick 1st year ice 1.2-1.6m. 10% multi-year ice 2.2-2.5m.

This day will be long remembered for everyone on board as the day we attained the North Pole. We anticipated an arrival after midnight, so around 1 a.m. people slowly emerged from their cabins to form a silent vigil on the bow of the ship. We crept ever closer, the only sound being the cracking ice as we pushed north. The progress was reported over the public address system every nautical mile. The hotel staff provided us with champagne and we became joyous as we heard that we were a mere hundred meters from the exact spot. The captain and his crew expertly guided us gently to the top of the world and at 1:30 a.m. on the 12th of July, 2012 we had achieved our goal! The ship’s GPS read 90 degrees 0 minutes! We were there! Everywhere in the world was south from where we stood. We raised our glasses and Laurie addressed us from the front of the bow, punctuating how special and truly incredible this accomplishment was. In the hours after attaining the pole, the crew directed the ship to an expanse of solid ice that would accommodate our day’s activities. This proved difficult as there were many leads of open water and thick fog as well. But after lunch, our spot was chosen and the crew readied a perimeter for us to enjoy some time on the ice.

The first order of business was a group photo in a circle around the North Pole marker the staff had planted in the ice. Captain Davydyants congratulated us on reaching this point and we walked around the pole, thereby ceremoniously circumnavigating the entire world in a few short steps.

For the next few hours, people did a variety of activities while still more just found a quiet place to contemplate the journey. Some headed for the bow of the ship, stuck in ice, and took pictures pretending to haul the ship over the ice with a long rope extended from the bow. Both bow anchors were lowered onto the ice floe, making for an interesting photo opportunity.
Our perimeter was guarded from polar bears by several Russian crew members Although polar bears are more often encountered further to the south, there have been sightings at the pole in recent years. We did, in fact, see polar bear tracks on the ice as we approached the pole.

The craziest group of people opted for something slightly more adventurous, stripping down to their swimming costumes and flinging themselves off the edge of the ice into the icy depths of the Arctic Ocean. Below them awaited 4,261 meters (13,980 feet) of spine-chilling sea water. We watched as people swam, flailed and flipped in the water, ascending a metal stairway back onto the ice, most often accompanied by a vicious smile frozen on their face. Our bartenders Georg and Johannes offered shots of vodka (Russia’s defibrillator) to those who plunged.

Unfortunately, the wind never dropped below 10 knots so the hot-air ballooning program was cancelled. No one was more upset than Kiff and John, who had set up their balloon in the hopes of any change in the weather. It was not to be, as these conditions would have been far too dangerous to launch a tethered balloon.

The flags of every country represented aboard the ship, including crew and passengers, were flown above us as we traversed the ice alongside the ship. Six of the seven continents were represented, and many of us had also visited Antarctica, the seventh continent. The photo frenzy continued, everyone finding their own way to convey in pictures their experience at the pole.

Friends that I met on the ship Chi and Jay got engaged here. This took everyone by surprise (except Jay).I was asked to take pictures and didn't know what was happening until Jay was on his knee. Chi said yes, of course, and there was even more reason to celebrate.

Then at 4:30 p.m. we were all back on board, ready to go in the only direction possible from the North Pole; south to Franz Josef Land.

The catering team treated us to another outstanding barbecue for dinner. We would not go home losing weight on this ship.


Below is a slideshow of all my pictures from our day at the North Pole.

The Geographic North Pole
90º North!

Geoff at the pole
Geoff Celebrates at the Pole

ship in the ice
The Ship in the Ice

At the Pole
at the North Pole

a north pole proposal
Jay proposes to Chi

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