TIME ON ICE by Deborah Shapiro


A Winter Voyage to Antarctica
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 Wintering in Antarctica is a lark compared with getting there and back in a small sailboat, as Shapiro and Bjelke (freebooters out of Sweden) tell it. Having paid a summertime visit to the southernmost of continents--reveling in the wildness of it all, the waters swept with lilac-hued icebergs--Shapiro and Bjelke wanted more, a whole circuit of the seasons in Antarctica, aboard their 40-foot sailing vessel. They chart a circuitous course from Sweden, a shakedown voyage that takes them north to the Faroes, west to Canada, and down to Gloucester, testing the mettle of their craft and themselves. Time and again, shoddy workmanship and faulty hardware almost nix their plans, but the duo struggles on, aided by fair skies, a favoring wind, and extraordinary luck in happening across folks who tend to their engine problems and electrical malfunctions. They pound across the Atlantic again, challenging their boat to make sure it can withstand a polar winter, then head south to lock themselves into the ice. They tell their story in alternating voices, a chapter at a throw, Bjelke concentrating on the nautical details while Shapiro takes the breezier tack, pleasuring in the colors and contours of place, delighting in the wealth of wildlife and the ``200 nuances of morning light.'' Once anchored, they take long skiing trips, visit penguin rookeries and Wendell seal pupping grounds, bemoan the degradation of this heretofore virgin environment by tour groups, then question the impact even their light-stepping presence has on so fragile a landscape. When their tour is over, it's back to slamming seas and tortuous four-hour shifts--asleep one second, unwrapping the halyard and coupling it to the pulpit the next. A bumpy ride, but given the itinerary, was any less expected? (b&w and color photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-07-006399-0
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1997


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