Aug 14, 2014
“Travel in the Arctic takes great patience and great determination,” said Tony Gooch in a recent note. Presuming those two qualities are applied at different moments of a journey, then it’s patience I need now. I itch to be moving. There are still so many miles.
But Lancaster Sound blows a gale today. So, at calm and quiet Tay we stay.
We are at the back of the pack now. One boat, Inook, is already S of Bellot Strait; my friends on yellow-hulled Breskell are in Peel Sound with Altego and Morgane and maybe others. Alioth is in Tay with us. Only two boats I know of have yet to enter the Arctic: Sedna, a father/daughter team who are attempting to sail this entire route without engine power and Mirabelle, last seen in Sisimiut with engine problems.
What are the chances a departure today would encounter anything but a few icebergs in a crossing to Devon? Small. But in such a wind, pack ice would be a lee shore. Why risk it when that risk is not absolutely necessary? This is not a race. Mo and I have come too far to play silly buggers with ice if we don’t have to.
And we don’t. We aren’t late.
Compare Les and Ali Parson’s Arctic Tern, the vessel on which I crewed the NWP in 2014. It was a difficult ice year, and we didn’t depart Arctic Bay, just west of Tay Bay, until the 16th of August. On the 21st, we finally weighed anchor from Devon Island’s Graham Harbor and began heading S. We didn’t make Fort Ross until a week later, August 26. We exited Bellot on the W side on August 29.
Granted, that was pushing it, and the earlier I can arrive in The Bering and Alaska’s powerful gulf the better, but there is time.
And yet I itch to go.
“Prince Regent is closed,” wrote the ice guide, Victor Wejer, yesterday, “absolutely no chance it will open. Go direct Peel. Ice in Franklin and Larsen are dramatically improved.”
But I worry it could turn. A west wind could block further progress. What if the gate closes and I didn’t get through.
And yet… But wait…
On and on and on like this…
So in the afternoon I go for a hike to expend some energy. And that night, I am invited to dine with Vincent, Olivier and John aboard Alioth. Lasagne (imagine a baked lasagne!), red wine and stories flying. I get lathered up and am recalled to my duty only when I note all other plates but mine are empty, their owners quietly waiting a much desired pause before going in for seconds.
Aug 14, 2019
Underway from Tay at 10am to some place on Devon. Brisk wind in the channel. Mo makes 8 knots without trying as soon as I remember how to raise sail. Big, beautiful bergs. No pack ice. I think I’ll head to Dundas Harbor for tonight and be underway tl the west bright and early tomorrow.