Our ship’s hull hit the ice at 79.6 degrees North. We dropped anchor and prepared for the Polar Plunge. I was terrified.
My bare feet gripped the steel grate and my shoulders trembled as the Arctic wind blew through my hair. I felt like a pirate about to walk the plank! What was going to happen when my body hit the 30 degree water?? Why did I say I would do this??? What if I passed out? What if I sunk? There was a doctor there with a defibrillator (just in case).
I thought about the kids back home at Spruce. I had promised them that I would do this. They do hard things every day.
I stopped feeling afraid and only felt determined. I walked out onto the zodiac. I fixed my eyes on the water. I stepped up onto the edge and leapt…
I don’t remember what was on my mind as I jumped. I focused on my breath. I saw three air bubbles rise above me as I submerged in the salty Arctic sea. Just as fast as I entered the water, I popped right back up to the surface. I took two quick strokes toward Maya and was pulled back up on the platform. My lungs felt frozen and I could not talk. Josh wrapped me in a towel and gestured for me to climb back into the zodiac. My legs didn’t work and so I stood for a moment, quivering, before he lifted me up and over the side of the boat.
As soon as I got back into the Explorer, I was handed some warm loganberry juice. I bounced around, teeth chattering. I scurried over to the scuba divers’ hot tub tank to warm up my chilly bones…but it was too hot! I clung to the top edge of the tank like a lobster avoiding a boil.
I felt….alert and alive! Next stop: the sauna.