The gangway has just clanked up outside my porthole and the engines are revving. It’s 8.20pm on Monday night and we’re heading home…
…Jump ahead 45 minutes. I ran up on deck after writing the first sentence because the ship started moving. As I emerged on the helideck the first flare was fired from the ship, rocketing into the sky with a whoosh and then flaring into a bright pink ball and slowly falling to the ice. Another three flares went up after it and drifted down, our farewell to the station, and a little while later the station sent out a flare in response.
I ran back downstairs for my down jacket and then went right up on the top of the ship to the monkey deck for an all round view of us breaking out of the ice. After a minute I started to have a strong déjà vu. Remember the all-night reverse park? Now we are starting the all-night 300 point turn so we can head out again. Karen told me about a previous departure when all the people on station got sick of watching the ship breaking out of the ice and went to bed, and the next morning it was still visible. That could of course be us.
After six days on the continent we’re heading home and I looked out at the ice with mixed feelings. Partly I’d love to stay here, spend the summer, get to know this place and its people better. And partly I feel exhausted; punch drunk from the magnitude of the landscapes and the experiences, needing to curl up in my bunk and sleep and then start to absorb the sensations and thoughts of the past week. The voyage home will be a great time to do that, two weeks of sailing, thinking, writing, dreaming, remembering.