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.
Indeed, you do know when you hit the water.
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.