September 16, 2012

Leg 5: 18-20 August 2012: Paisley Bay to Cape Victoria

The next morning we have to leave our anchorage since the ice is moving in with the south-easterly wind.  With one man up in the rig we try to find our way around the ice but the forward looking sounder has different ideas. So we have to go back into the ice field and slowly we find our way to the western side of the bay. It takes 2 hours to cover the 5 nm to our new lively anchorage.  Eirik, Mark (S) and Mirek go ashore to have a look at the sea-ice. No happy faces on their return. The ice has not moved away with the offshore wind yet. The latest ice-chart isn’t any better and leaves little hope for a quick departure. 9/10 ice cover for the southern Mclintock Strait.

During the night the wind blows with 30 knots from the east south-east. Enough to go out and see if there is now an inner lead very close inshore. For 30 nm we stay as close to the shore as our sounder allows. To leeward we can see the ice edge of the heavy sea ice at 2 miles off. The same 30 knots that slows us down keeps the lead open. At times we have some ice on our track and have to move closer in. Past Cape Adelaide Regina we have the now 35 knots of wind  just over our port bow, with a well reefed main and the engine we tack endlessly to stay close in an out of the waves. Hoping for a good anchorage at Cape Victoria but nothing seems certain here. The new 4 blade feathering prop gives the boat an enormous drive. Mireks eyes are blinking in the hard snow but they speak a clear language, we are going to make it and leave all the heavy ice behind us. 

An hour later the new Rocna Anchor digs in never to let go again behind Cape Victoria. Never mind the 35 knots or the latest ice chart we know we made it. We pour ourselves a serious “ankerdram” an excellent Norwegian way to celebrate the arrival in a new anchorage. On the chart we are only just half way and “Jonathan” still has a long way to go. It is all gong way to fast, months you could spend here to explore all those small inlets and historical sites. Desolation, isolation, the fatal expeditions, the human tragedy, the ultimate island feeling, all in a perfect Arctic setting.

We have to call at Gjoa, even if it is just for one night. This is the bay where Roald Amundsen stayed 2 winters in 1906 during his historical first passage and thus proving the North West passage could be done. During his stay he learned lots from the Inuit. In contrast to many others he recognized the superiority of their culture in the Arctic. And thus became the first man to reach the South Pole some years later. Relations must have been more intimate since there are still some Amundsen’s around in Gjoa. Too soon we have to move on to Cambridge bay. The sailing schedule has become a bit tight once more. Eirik Ashleigh. Ewa, Mirek and Mark will all be leaving. Their time is up, since Pond Inlet this was an easy going team. All working hard and eager to do any job at hand. Hard to get them away from the helm no matter the weather. Nothing was too much trouble and the pleasant competition between the two watches made this leg a great success.

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