Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Slob" sighting: Wilfred Grenfell's Adrift on an Ice Pan

excerpted from the Project Gutenberg version of Wilfred Grenfell's harrowing tale of survival in northern Newfoundland:

All went well till I was about a quarter of a mile from the landing-point. Then the wind suddenly fell, and I noticed that I was travelling over loose "sish," which was like porridge and probably many feet deep. By stabbing down, I could drive my whip-handle through the thin coating of young ice that was floating on it. The sish ice consists of the tiny fragments where the large pans have been pounding together on the heaving sea, like the stones of Freya's grinding mill.

So quickly did the wind now come off shore, and so quickly did the packed "slob," relieved of the wind pressure, "run abroad," that already I could not see one pan larger than ten feet square; moreover, the ice was loosening so rapidly that I saw[8] that retreat was absolutely impossible. Neither was there any way to get off the little pan I was surveying from.

There was not a moment to lose. I tore off my oilskins, threw myself on my hands and knees by the side of the komatik to give a larger base to hold, and shouted to my team to go ahead for the shore. Before we had gone twenty yards, the dogs got frightened, hesitated for a moment, and the komatik instantly sank into the slob. It was necessary then for the dogs to pull much harder, so that they now began to sink in also...


Adrift on an Ice Pan is available as an unabridged audiobook from

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