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Thursday, 15 August 2013

Setback in Beechey

After receiving slightly improved weather and ice charts yesterday, we left Scallon Cove on Devon Island and proceeded westwards. We hoped to explore the ice at the North end of Peel Sound - one of several 'choke points' which in normal years must be cleared prior to accessing the western portion of the NWP. Last year's 'good year' allowed two boats to make their way through Parry Channel and McClure Strait, thus cutting many miles off the route. Given this year's heavy ice conditions, our hopes were much more modest. If we failed to get further west and head down into Peel, we hoped to get to Resolute and re-fill our fuel.

Unfortunately, we got turned back by ice and re-emerging wind. At 0730 we anchored back on Devon Island at Erebus and Terror Bay after passing Beechey Island in high winds and a snowstorm.

Beechey Island contains the memorial to a number of crew members from Franklin's ship who died here in the 1840s on their journey of exploration. We hope to honor their memory by a visit to their graves if more suitable weather prevails. Some years ago the remains of one of these explorers was sent back to Edmonton for testing. This furnished conclusive proof that lead poisoning was a contributing factor to the demise of these men.

We ourselves are eating well and our stores still include all food groups including not just tinned but also fresh veggies, meat and bread. Today will be another 'at home' day and we have various repairs underway. We can't repair the broken refrigerator - and with current temperatures we don't really need it. The men are now fixing a really annoying problem. An ear-splitting alarm sounds whenever water splashes up high on the side of the bilges. It's happened several times (mostly when one of us is sound asleep) because the shaft seal leaks whenever the propeller cavitates or we're in heavy waves. Claude has diagnosed the problem and Larry is currently trying to put more compression on the bellows which would stop the leak and silence this annoying alarm forever.

Good news came in from our friend Nicola on his red steel boat - 'Perd pas le Nord' - (sailing under a Belgian flag). He and his crew have surged forward to the south of Boothia Island and headed for Gjoa Haven. Nicola with his friend Alex and family (Veronique and their two pre-teen girls Emy and Elyse) are through the worst of the ice on this side. They have accomplished this miracle by crashing through REALLY thick ice - working very hard with one person high up the mast to check for possible routes, and with using their boat somewhat like an icebreaker …

We're going to continue to wait for better ice reports. We feel unable to use Traversay as an icebreaker … if the echo sounder on our hull were destroyed in really thick ice, it could let water in and we really don't need cold baths!no-footer


  1. Did you say south of Boothia Island or may it was Boothia Peninsula as there is no island of that name.

  2. Victor, Cut em slack... they are having trouble with what they "filled with ice" yet the picture only shows some shore ground bergy ice hence if rated 1/10 would be generous... What I find extremely interesting is that with seven (7) yachts all waiting at east Bellot Strait they don't seem to be organized. At least the many blogs don't indicate any outcome of talking or plans of cooperation. I would think there are several Captains out of the seven skippers who have experience and know how to lead... But in the last five years that you and I have been watching the NW Passage yachts it really become apparent who were leaders and who are followers. This season is no different - mother nature has put the hammer down and will watch to see who makes good decisions. Deadline? How about August 30th... To reach Nome in a 5kt sailboat is going to take 30 days... End of September? OUCH! That is plenty late in the season. Then another week from Nome to Sand Point across the Bering Sea... the story is going to become very intense. Stay safe, Doug