National Geographic : 1959 Jan
all over my front lawn? Merry Christmas!" Engineman 2/c William J. McNally, Jr., as Santa Claus, appeared in a costume the quartermasters made from some red flag ma terial and cotton. He had "a message for the children," and then it was time for our steak dinner and North Pole cake. Now that the Pole lay behind us, however, we had another goal and job to do. We had to reach the Atlantic, completing our transit of the Arctic Ocean safely. Actually, all of us knew that we were now playing a game of longitude roulette for very high stakes. At the North Pole all directions are south, and an error in navigation could head us for the U.S.S.R., Alaska, or Canada instead of for our planned exit into the Green land Sea. Concentration on our instruments never flagged for a moment. We steered for our old stamping grounds, a deepwater opening between Greenland and Spitsbergen. There an arm of the Gulf Stream curved north, and we hoped to reach open water little more than 600 miles from the Pole. I was sleeping when it happened, but at almost the same spot as in 1957, we lost the power supply to the master compass. Expe rience pays off, though. We had installed an emergency supply, and it took over without skipping a beat. Ice Overhead Watched by Television By noon of August 4, when my watch be gan, we were feeling so good that we decided to divert ourselves with television-"Polar TV network, Channel 571," we dubbed our un derwater ice observation hookup. It had been installed primarily for finding small ice in otherwise open pools. In 1957 one bent and one ruined periscope had taught us the danger of being in a hurry when surfacing in ice, and the limitations of our sonar.