Long periods of boredom were punctuated only by occasional expeditions, none of which yielded anything of scientific worth. They did not even lead to a single anecdote worth relaying to those back home. There were no terrifying animals nor deathly blizzards to survive. Nobody even fell over on the ice in an amusing way or tripped and fell face-first into the snow with a silent and hilarious thud. They saw no-one and nothing but each other. And now it was time to return home.
The ship departed without incident from the coast at Logashkino then crossed the East Siberian Sea. After rounding Wrangel Island it headed south through the Chukchi Sea. And from there the ship - whose name no person aboard ever said aloud, on account of its phonetic similarity to a remarkably rude piece of Scottish slang - chugged slowly but surely towards the Bering Strait.
Except quite suddenly, that slow and sure advance became so slow that it started to seem as though the ship had stopped moving altogether. The scientists on board rushed to portholes and windows to check.
They knew all about motion and velocity and what-have-you, so each felt very qualified to judge whether or not the ship was still moving. Each determined it was not.
For a minute or two, no scientist said anything. Furtive glances were exchanged. Each person presents quietly hoped that they would not be called upon to formulate a rescue plan, and silently convinced themselves that they were the only person thinking in such a manner.
'Hello! You are stuck! Hello?'
A loud voice from without broke the silence. A single Yupik, clad in an enormous jacket with a fur-lined hood, had crossed the ice. He was stood, bellowing, approximately 20 metres from the immobile nose of the ship. One scientist, a man in his mid-30s, braved the cold wind and ran to a little balcony overlooking the solitary hollering Yupik.
'Yes, we are stuck,' he shouted.
‘Do you have chocolate?’
'Did you say chocolate?’
'Did you say chocolate?’
‘Yes. Do you have any chocolate?’
It was too cold to wonder why the question of chocolate had been raised. The scientist knew there was still some cocoa rations on board. He took the executive decision to trade them for whatever help this Yupik could offer. There would probably be some recriminations from his fellow scientists, but they would come later and would probably be minor in scale.
He shouted back to the Yupik and told him there was chocolate on board. The Yupik threw his arms in the air and roared a loud hooray.
An arrangement was reached - the scientist would find a way down to sea level and in return for chocolate, the Yupik would assist the ship in making its escape from the icy waters.