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Helsinki, Finland

It must have been about 3 o’clock (in one time zone or the other) when I found my way down to the 2nd deck, below the car deck, and managed to get into my top bunk in the dark, I think without waking anyone.

Someone’s alarm went off, then mine went off. I heard someone else getting up. I waited in bed until they’d gone. There was only enough room in the cabin for one person to not be in bed at a time. It was an interior cabin and no one had turned the light on so it was still dark and impossible to tell what it was like outside, but as soon as the next person who had just started getting up had gotten up and got out of the cabin I would go up on deck and find out.

It was misty and it was icy. An island with a small lighthouse on it appeared out of the mist and floated by, disappearing as suddenly as it had appeared. I went over to the other side of the ship to see another island passing, very close to us, then I went back to the first side and again there was an island just coming into view, but not very far away. There was something in the water around it. What looked at first like a lot of small islands but then as it went past I saw it was ice. Stained brown ice.

The ice got thicker as we approached Helsinki, but it was always broken and always dirty looking. A seagull occasionally landed on one of the larger blocks and drifted along with it. Now cranes and containers were going by. Beyond them were the buildings of Helsinki. The ship was turning and the ice was swirling. There were two patches of clear water where the ice was being pushed away by the ship’s engines as it edged into the dock.