June 25. Day 19
In the morning a seal came to “Molchanov”. Its curious face appeared either at one side of the vessel, or at the other. It wasn’t bothered by the noise, on the contrary, even attracted. After spending some time around and allowing us to take pictures, the seal swam around the vessel and disappeared.
Before the visit of our guest it rained. The participants of the solemn ceremony rehearsal put on their hoods and tried not to spend much time at the stern where the ceremony was planned to be held. I was hiding my camera under the jacket and tried not to slip on the wet deck.
The weather changed at once: the rain stopped, the deck got dry, then the seal appeared.
The vessel is at anchor by Nizhnyaya Zolotitsa. There are a lot of plans for today: the ceremony of putting the wreath afloat in honour of the Northern convoys, taking a common picture, landing and field work in the village and around it.
This year on August 31 the 75-th anniversary since the arrival of the first allied convoy PQ-0 under a secret name “Dervish” to Arkhangelsk is celebrated. The AFU-expedition starts a series of commemorable events in honour of this anniversary.
It should be noted that this episode in the Great Patriotic War history is greatly honoured in Arkhangelsk. The day of the first convoy arrival is celebrated annually, the anniversaries are usually especially honoured. In 1991and in 2001 the ships of British Navy came to Arkhangelsk: “London” came in 1991 and “Campbelltown” in 2001, Russian, British and American convoy participants also come to Arkhangelsk.
The northern supply route was the most important one during the first year of war, 61% of all cargo delivered to the USSR from August 1941 till August 1942 was carried there. The route from Great Britain to the north of the USSR was short, but very often fatal. 50 ships were lost during one year. Storms were a blessing as during storms German aviation couldn’t bombard the convoys.
All expedition members lined to commemorate those who lost their lives at sea. The ceremony was very laconic and solemn: a speech about the value of the sailors’ bravery was held, then the hymn played, the wreath was handed to the crew and put afloat, a one-minute silence and gun shot.
Tatyana Troshina, a sociologist, said that Nizhnyaya Zolotitsa is a traditional Pomor village, for which the 1980-90-s were the golden age. Today there live about 100 people, though in summer, when it is warm and there are mushrooms and berries in the forest, there are more. Those come here who have moved to Arkhangelsk or anywhere else, but still remembers their native village.
There are a lot of problems in the village: the lack of transport routes, the absence of a kindergarten and some others. These issues were mentioned by the local residents as the sociological and economical modules continue their surveys.
Nizhnyaya Zolotitsa and Sosnovets are two landing points along our route which belong to the Arctic, but not to the classical severe high-latitude Arctic covered with ice and snow, which is so popular as a research topic today, but to the so-called “low-latitude” Arctic which is not so grand and majestic. It turns out that it is less interesting for the researchers though a lot of people live here and there are a lot of problems also, for example, ecological issues.
Our foreigners were really excited and curious during their visit to Nizhnyaya Zolotitsa. For example, Andre and Mariangela from Brazil wanted to know everything: from the location of the rooms in a traditional Pomor house and church availability (there is a church in the village, but its condition is very poor – it is the church of Saint Antoniy Siyskiy which dates back to the ХIХ century) to what one can buy in the shop.
All expedition participants went to the shop. Ice-cream was an absolute leader. Also it turned out that we missed kvas, snickers and cola. The prices in Zolotitsa are a bit higher than in Arkhangelsk. I stopped myself from buying chocolate bars and now I feel so sorry about it.
It was then decided that such landing points as Sosnovets and Nizhnyaya Zolotitsa are of interest to the Floating University participants, especially students, because they show the contrast between high-latitude and low-latitude Arctic.
Healthcare and disease prevention.
The medical module continued their research on board. Do you remember that in the beginning of the expedition our blood samples were taken? Today, those who took part in the research had to do it again. It all went fast as we did that as soon as we got back from the landing. The results will be compared: before and after the expedition, what is the influence of the Arctic? We also took part in the endothelial dysfunction study (endothelium is a layer of cells which covers the inner walls of blood vessels) with the help of a special device called “EndoPat”. It is much more acceptable than blood tests. Special bands are put on one hand and two fingers and everything that you need to do is to lie still and quiet for about 15 minutes. The method is non-invasive and painless.
Frankly speaking, I am scared of doctors and go through different examinations only when I really need them. But cardio-vascular diseases are very serious and may happen to anybody, so we must be cautious about this issue.
The sea is blue and smooth, there are some clouds in the sky, but just to see where the sea ends and the sky starts. We are heading for Solovki.