Outward Journey

Icebound has some scenes based on my outward journey. The boat trip from Nain out to Dog Island is greyscale in my memory. The overloaded boat ran low in the water so that the bow wave towered over my head as I sat shivering in the stern. The running tide combined with a serious swell to create waves that crashed over the bows and into my face. I had a full survival suit over every woollen rag I possessed. And still I shivered.

The cold made me feel vulnerable. Cliffs that had seemed low when flying into Nain on a float plane were revealed as towering, black and menacing. They provided a bleak backdrop to the austere greyness of mist and sea. We passed occasional car-sized blocks of ice which bounced up and down in the tide, revealing undercarriages of irridescent green and blue that shone like cold flame.

Our boatman was tall with red hair and blue eyes. He claimed to be Inuit but would have looked natural walking down the main street in County Cork city. In the nineteenth century a whaling ship with an Irish crew was shipwrecked in the area and many of the men stayed in the frozen north, so he claimed. He had all but two fingers on one hand. These digits were a thumb and forefinger that had grown to enormous size. He was personable and reserved, like all men used to their own company. I sensed a competence in him. He knew these waters and knew his boat and engines. He’d done this run out to Dog Island and beyond many times. I wasn’t worried -until we reached the camp site.