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Frozen Bothnian bay

19:30 AEST Thu Jan 3 2013

Dermott's journey to the top of the earth took him to the frozen Bothnian Bay near Kemi at the gateway of Finnish Lapland. It's at the mouth of the River Kemijoki and the crew rugged up like never before to scoot across the ice.

They were transferred by snowmobile to the Sampo Arctic Icebreaker which worked hard for around thirty years clearing a path through harsh frozen waters. Retirement came about because Sampo became too small. As cargo ships increased in size, Sampo's path was no longer wide enough for them.

After retirement, she was bought by the Finnish Maritime Administration to work in the field of tourism. She takes fascinated passengers through the frigid waters she knows so well between December and April. Ice is at its thickest in March. It's believed she’s the only Arctic icebreaker which accepts passengers.

On his tour of Sampo, Dermott met the highly-trained crew, all equipped to handle any condition they may encounter, such as a sudden snowstorm. They are all educators of the north. For them, survival in nature is purely a fact of life in a place where nature is unpredictable.

Mild to fair weather can change into a raging blizzard at a moment's notice. Temperatures in mid–winter may fall to nearly minus 40 degrees celcius. Late–winter temperatures can exceed 20 degrees celsius in the sun, in the midst of an icy landscape.

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