August 19, 2012

Leg 5: 14 - 16 August 2012: Dundas Bay to Fort Ross via Beechy Head

From Dundas anchorage we get out into Lancaster Sound again, the great waterway that runs east to west. The current runs the other way, year round. It slows us down, with the light head winds progress is slow. But we have to save diesel, in case we need it badly later on, if we get into ice again or ...  Aim of this leg is Beechy Head, so much history has been written in the search of the North-West Passage, that we need to do this pelgrimage to the graves and memorials. The Erebus and Terror wintered here twice in 1845 and 46. The first crew members died a slow death. The first signs of things to go wrong, how must it have felt to be in such a barren, desolated place, the sun gone for the winter and an unknown sickness taking out crew members one by one . . .  Walking the beach I feel the shivers running down my spine, Jonathan safely anchored off, well prepared and equipped. How little did they know of what lay ahead of them in their search for the North-West Passage!!!

We choose Prince Regent Inlet and Bellot Strait. We leave in perfect weather the sun is out, a nice breeze on the beam, brilliant weather. The change comes fast, before we get the first reef in and the yankee furled we are covered in snow. Fingers stiffen quickly in the now freezing winds that blow up to 30 knots over deck. Leopold Island disappears from sight, ice floes join in the mix. The bigger once are easy to spot, the smaller bits are our worry, dodging growlers at 8 knots is fun in an ice strengthened alloy boat. In a glass-fiber boat it would be playing Russian roulette.

Fort Ross is our anchorage at the eastern entrance to Bellot Strait. Discovered in 1852 by one of the ships searching for survivors of the Terror and Erebus. It took till 1933 before the first ship sailed through, the ice and 7 knot current making it a deadly mix  for anything less then an icebreaker. Checking out the strait from a hillock behind the station we have to retrace our steps rather quickly. Not sure if the Polar Bear noticed us but we do not plan to wait and find out it's appetite.


Georgina Bedford said...
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Brem1954 said...

Can you tell us what is happening? It has been a long time since the last update. Thanks.