Departed Cambridge Bay early on Sept 4th for an anchorage in Edinburgh Islands, 141 miles west in Dease Strait. Forecast called for NW winds increasing to gale force some several hours after our estimated arrival at Edinburgh; our timing looked good.
A misty fog in Cambridge Bay changed to light NW winds and snow in the channel. And for the first time this passage outside temperatures of 2C were lower than sea temperature of 4.5C. Wind increased over night in Dease and backed into the W. By my watch at midnight we were beating into a steady 30 knots with gusts to 40 and three meter seas. Under a double reefed main and staysail we went tack upon tack without making much headway against south Victoria Island’s Sinclair Creek, and finally we had to admit that our gale had arrived early. We put back to an anchorage in Byron Bay, an 18 mile retreat, just before dawn.
Wind blew steadily from the WNW at 20 – 35 knots all the next day. Intermittent rain with a slushy snow. I baked bread and finished Willie de Roos’s *North-West Passage* without going on deck even once. None of us did. Reading, quite conversation, napping and eating made up our agenda.
We have now departed for our second attempt at Dease. Wind calm. It is snowing lightly and the low hills of Victoria are dusted white. The channel is a mess of swell from the SW.
Events during our brief stay in Cambridge were few but notable. When we moved Arctic Tern to the pier for fuel, an engineer from the airport greeted us with the news that his community had contained not a drop of diesel since May. He recommended we take on his “Aero fuel” (Kerosene?) and add 2% 2-stroke outboard engine oil to it for lubricity. This solution resonated with Les. We purchased four gallons of said oil, mixing in most of it as we filled with 1000 liters of Aero. The purchase of the oil increased fueling costs by about 25%.
That afternoon and evening could only be described as a collection of mishaps. The cultural center closed just as I arrived, and the heavy rain that followed interrupted my hike to visit the wrecked Maud, immediately turning Cambridge Bay streets into the best frontier town mud traps. I called on the local Pizza Hut, there to purchase a large pepperoni with mushroom for the crew of Novara, whose steerage repair project had consumed the entire day without coming to resolution. Only after waiting in line and placing my order did I learn that the Pizza Hut had no pizza, only fried chicken. The counter person expressed neither regret nor surprise (expression not appearing to be a much valued skill), and only offered the chicken after I asked what else might be available. I declined.
Separately, Ali had invited the Novaras to dinner on Arctic Tern, this to share a large Arctic Char being delivered. But an hour before festivities, the local fisherman returned to report that the Char from yesterday’s catch had frozen together into a misshapen lump. He could hacksaw off a portion if we liked or we could wait for him to catch another. Ali was, thus, forced to concoct a Spaghetti Bolognese on the fly. Capping what was a delicious dinner and lovely evening with the admittedly tired Novaras, one of their crew, Phil, fell overboard and had to be handed back on deck, a double embarrassment as Arctic Tern’s last three bottles of wine with dinner, shared amongst us all, could not be blamed.
Eventful times, if not particularly happy. And given the miles in front of us, we were more than willing to depart.