||2018-09-20 Thursday 2200 (UTC+6)
||AT SEA, 78 52,11’N / 073 33,9'E
Overcast or snowing, fresh breeze (NE force 5), moderate visibility, no ice encountered, +1 degrees, 1003 mbar
We passed Novaya Zemlya during the evening. We are still climbing higher on latitudes. The course after Novaya Zemlya is 284° and at the end of this great circle leg 211 degrees. That means 70° difference even we are sailing the shortest line possible.
I think most of the people still remember the Cold War era. During that time a big part of Soviet Union’s nuclear tests were done around here. Benefits can be seen as the location is somewhat remote to disturb anybody but now thinking this issue through this mindless destroying of nature will be remembered as a black stain on human history.
Thinking about the environment, it is, of course, nice that new routes open for navigation and we can cut emissions of this voyage but considering the overall climate condition it shouldn’t be like this. This area is not even close to the image people carry on their minds. You cannot find vast masses of ice where polar bears hunt seals and wind rolls over white snow desert. The scenery is more like the one back home. Grey sea, grey sky with overcast or fog. If I change the date of photos taken nobody would notice the difference. Of course, winter here still is winter, but this summer shows climate change in action. At the Bay of Bothnia and east end of Gulf of Finland warming may be seen even in winter as these areas are navigable through the year. Ice is not any more so dominant feature in all areas, but you get more challenges over the open sea and wind. For example icing (spray from sea cumulating on a ship at low temperatures) will be a bigger problem as sea stays open and splashes from the sea cannot be avoided.
Our good ship Haaga is again a demonstration of adaptation we have to do. Forecastle is covered with one extra deck and it is possible to heat hatch coamings to get rid of the ice on most avoidable areas. Our approach is also to re-think ice navigation. In classic ship design, the main engine is designed to have big power reserve to be used when ice is encountered. On the other hand, this same power is more or less useless on the open sea. Therefore we chose to make our vessels hybrid ships in a one way. Shaft generator - normally used to make electricity for onboard consumption - can be used as electric motor and we can have extra boost just in time needed. Technology for this comes from Finnish WE Tech.
Jussi Vaahtikari is Master of m/v Haaga. He has participated to the construction of Viikki and Haaga since the design phase and he was also part of the supervision team in China during the construction phase.