August 19, 2019
70 32S 97 27W
Just a quick note to report that Mo is through the ice and sailing fast on a N wind for Cambridge Bay, 235 miles SW.
I have been pushing to get to Alioth’s position for two days. She has a busted gear box and can’t make more than three knots under power. She has been hove to at the head of our last major ice plug waiting for an escort as she’d have to sail through, a tricky business.
We’ve all been sweating bullets over this last 30 miles of ice, and for four days I’ve been underway and hand steering for 18 to 20 hours a day through 3 – 5/10ths ice to get here. Only a few hours sleep a night this last week.
As it turns out, today was a piece of cake. We saw huge ice floes the size of city blocks but with wide lanes in between. Alioth and another boat, Mandregore, sailed downwind without trouble with Mo bringing up the rear under power just in case.
We got underway at 2pm and by 6:30pm we were in open water.
One big chapter in the Figure 8 is closed. One long chapter, the 4,000 mile slog home, remains.
Huge thanks to Victor Wejer, our ice guide, for his help and tough-love encouragement these last days. Victor was awake and communicating at all hours of the day–weather in the morning, ice charts in the afternoon and pep talks at 3am. It was a great pleasure to have Victor at my back!
The story will out and so will lots of photos but not today. Today, a beer and some sleep while Mo flies S toward Clarence Islands and around the last ice tongue; then we gybe SW for Cambridge Bay and onward toward home!