Sunday, December 13, 2009

That water's cold. And deep, too.

Ahab wannabes were grabbing their harpoons. The great white (really white) one bobbed in the Southern Ocean on Sunday.
There's cold, and then there's dangly parts take a vacation cold. The water here is actually slightly below 32 degrees farenheit (salinity at work). So why not go swimming?
Local tradition holds that residents of Palmer Station plunge in the polar waters when friendly vessels head north. The ritual aims to bring good luck for those about to head across the notoriously nasty Drake Passage. It's decidedly bad luck for those taking the plunge.
During my time here, no ship would be making the trip without me aboard, so I jumped in just to confirm my stupidity.
Off the pier in one blindingly pale flash of gumption, and I was in the water.

I've read where studies test people's tolerance to pain by having them stick their hands in ice water. It hurts.
Indeed, you do know when you hit the water.

But it must have been numbing as well, because I figured a somersault in the water was in order. Not a great idea.
I got a head rush combined with a brain freeze. It was like gulping down a giant grape Slurpee while buried naked in the snow. I felt as if my eyeballs were collapsing on themselves. Even my prodigious insulation was no match for the ice water.
Time to head for the ladder. People on land seemed alien. They were laughing. Smiling. Where's Bill Clinton when you need him? I wanted somebody to feel my pain.

I waddled 30 yards to the hot tub, where it took me a good two minutes to inch my frozen flesh into the steamy water.

Soon, though, I warmed with my fellow ice jumpers, all of us well impressed with our own daring. Friendly crowd. Not terribly bright.


Z said...


zoot said...

Wasn't it cold climbing up the ladder?

Kentucky Bob said...

Cool. Something to tell the grandkids about. Fairly dense saltwater, you should have nearly bounced off the surface.

Anonymous said...

Very brave, but better you than me.

Anonymous said...

Not even George Costanza could relate to this shrinkage!

Hairman said...

I know the water was cold and deep but wonder if the bottom was sandy?

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