The idea was briefly mooted of leaving the next morning when the winds and waves would have further reduced. After some discussion, this course of action was rejected by all the boats in favor of an immediate departure. A delay would have risked a tongue of ice extending from M'Clintock blocking our path AND a number of boats were beginning to worry about fuel shortage. A fair sailing wind, no matter how strong, would grant many free miles and reduce this concern.
Victoria Strait on the west side of King William Island is described in the government "Sailing Directions" as having the worst ice conditions in mainland Canada. This route spelled the end of the Franklin Expedition in 1845. Amundsen succeeded in the first Northwest Passage by proceeding south along the east shore of King William. The route to the east of King William via Gjoa Haven is, even today, typically more reliable but adds two or three days to a very time-constrained voyage.
It was our good fortune that the gale which cleared Peel Sound of ice also demolished most of the ice blocking Victoria Strait. All five boats that were anchored in Willis Bay [TRAVERSAY III, ACALEPHE, BELLE EPOQUE, ISATIS and LIBELLULE] are now approaching Cambridge Bay after a three day passage.
It is our plan to refuel as quickly as possible and be underway toward the west in less than a day. It is a sobering thought that in five or six weeks it will be possible to WALK across Cambridge Bay. Time is of the essence!
Claude is leaving us in Cambridge Bay and we want to thank him for helping us thus far on our trip … we never could have done it without him. He will be greatly missed and not only for his dishwashing and cooking skills. While with us, he engineered a successful "fix" of our anchor windlass, he made helpful suggestions about how we could save energy in the galley and save heat from escaping from our companion-way hatch. He also helped us with some great sailing tips. He left earlier than expected due to pressing obligations at home in Quebec. I'm sure Normande will be thrilled to have him back - just one day late for his birthday!
|Our last meal with Claude as a Trio|
Our next problem shaping up is that Cape Bathurst - four days travel to the west - is blocked by 20 miles of five-tenths ice. As we saw in Peel Sound, a gale can change the situation radically but you have to be nearby to take advantage. Thus we, and probably the other boats too, will be on our way toward this obstacle in the hope that it will allow our passage.
Beyond, there is open water along the Alaska Coast ... for a while anyway.
At 27/08/2013 23:04 (utc) our position was 68°49.01'N 104°33.76'W