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Sunday, 1 September 2013

Pearce Point Harbour

Abandoned hut

Mary Anne mentioned in our last posting that we spent a minimal amount of time in Cambridge Bay. I was aware at the time that a westerly gale was brewing and would arrive on the scene in three and a half days. If we left immediately, we would have just enough time to get to this spot: Pearce Point Harbour. Any delay would mean having to stop 170 miles earlier at Bernard Harbour, the nearest previous sheltered anchorage along the coast.

An earlier stop would not only have delayed us one day, but as the weather systems move from west to east, any weather improvement would not arrive there until an additional day later - thus costing one more day!

In the south, the word "Harbour" generally connotes a town or village; here it just means that enclosing bits of land will reduce the waves and wind just enough to anchor your boat in safety until whatever weather you are escaping has passed. There IS an old abandoned shack on the shore along with an old abandoned road leading to the disused gravel airstrip. There seems much evidence in this part of the world of people, no longer here, having passed through.

Eighty meters [270 feet] of heavy 10mm chain stretch from the bow to our anchor buried in the sand and mud under 7 meters of water. Sand and mud are our favorite sea bottom for anchoring. Much more than gravel and certainly more than rock, they allow the anchor to bury deep and hold with remarkable tenacity.

It is snowing off and on outside and the wind, steady at 35 knots and gusting to 40 knots [47mph - 78kph] is making loud moaning sounds in the rigging interrupted by the occasional staccato banging of the slightly-too-loose halyard ropes.

Only road for miles around!
It is difficult to convey an essential psychological difference between a stop on this coast and a weather anchorage further south. The weather that forces us to stop typically disallows visits ashore. Dinghy work is unpleasant - even dangerous - in large waves and we want to be aboard in case the anchor drags. Thus the enforced idleness of the weather delay is combined with an intense awareness of the dwindling supply of "summer" days set against the immense number of miles yet to be traveled.

But all things come to an end - as will this gale. We hope to be moving again by late Monday, September 2nd to deal with any remaining ice around Cape Bathurst and sail onward toward Tuktoyaktuk. Our stop there will be, needless to say, brief: a few hours if we arrive early in the day; overnight if we arrive late.

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