Saturday, August 31, 2013

University of Alaska Fairbanks didn't receive the message with 73% increase in Arctic ice since last year

Sea ice decline in the Arctic reveals new findings

August 30th 7:58 pm | Joseph Miller
The Alaska landscape is changing in unexplainable ways according to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which posted a recent review of the changing ecosystems in the Arctic as a result of declining sea ice. The review shed new light on the loss of northern sea ice and its affect on the surrounding areas in the Arctic.
"Our thought was to see if sea ice decline contributed to greening of the tundra along the coastal areas," said Uma Bhatt, an associate professor with UAF's Geophysical Institute. "It's a relatively new idea."
The team of researchers analyzed over 10 years' worth of comprehensive data on the decline of sea ice, examining the time frame between 1982 and 2011 and looking at the time series of remote sensing data to look more closely at the decline of sea ice, the land-surface temperatures of the affected areas, and the changes in the vegetation abundance.
The data was collected by determining the land-surface summer warmth index (SWI) and calculating the regression of the sea ice using the least squares fit at each pixel. The index is the annual sum of the monthly mean temperatures above 0 degrees Celsius.
The calculations of the declines of sea ice come from readings from instruments on various NASA and NOAA satellites that have continuously been monitoring the changes in vegetation from space. Scientists and researchers have been using this collected data to calculate the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which is an indicator of photosynthetic activity or "greenness" of the Arctic landscape.
Bhatt and her colleagues heavily relied on the satellite data, but it wasn't enough to answer all the questions as to why the greening is occurring.
"We have satellite records going back to 1982, but we don't have a lot of ground data." Bhatt said.
 One of the findings that explain the newly noticed greening of the arctic areas is that the warming soils provide and opportunity for new vegetation to grow and flourish in areas where less vegetation had been able to thrive in the past. The review also found that despite a general warming and greening of Arctic lands that have been the result of sea ice decline, some areas in North America and northern Russia along the Bering Sea coast of Alaska are showing cooling trends and declines in vegetation productivity.
"The story of Alaska in this study is interesting as we are seeing two things going on." Bhatt said. "One, the Arctic areas around the North Slope are greening and secondly, the areas affected in Southwestern Alaska are browning. Our speculation towards this is a combination of a reduction of snow, which has contributed to less moisture in these areas, and secondly that the summer air may be cooling down as the ocean air that is coming in is getting cooler."
Many Boreal forests in North America have been greening, but this trend was not as strong in the tundra of the circumpolar arctic, as these boreal forests experienced "browning" as a result of less photosynthetic activity over the study period.
"Boreal forest is not the tundra, as the tundra is mostly high grass and shrub." Bhatt said. "It's actually these very little woody plants, shrubs and the beginnings of smaller trees that are moving in and are contributing to the greening of the Arctic."
The reason for this is still unknown, but droughts, forest fire activity, animal and insect behavior, industrial pollution and a number of other factors may have contributed to the browning trend in these areas.
Perhaps the main focus of the review was to take a closer look at the decline of sea ice and its role in the changing marine and terrestrial food chains. The decline and disappearance of sea ice means a loss of sea-ice algae, which is the foundation of the marine food web. Larger plankton is seen to be increasing, which is replacing smaller, more nutrient dense plankton. Above the water, the old pathways of several animal migrations has been disrupted by the decline of sea ice and several other pathways have been opened. Some terrestrial plants and animals will become more isolated because of this. In the case of the northernmost and coldest parts of the arctic, entire biomes may completely disappear.
"Some animals and plants will become more isolated. In the case of the farthest north and coldest parts of the Arctic, entire biomes may be lost without the cooling effects of disappearing summer sea ice," the press release stated.
"After a decade with nine of the lowest Arctic sea-ice minima on record, including the historically low minimum in 2012, we synthesize recent developments in the study of ecological responses to sea-ice decline," the review from Science Magazine said. "Sea-ice loss emerges as an important driver of marine and terrestrial ecological dynamics, influencing productivity, species interactions, population mixing, gene flow, and pathogen and disease transmission. Major challenges in the near future include assigning clearer attribution to sea ice as a primary driver of such dynamics, especially in terrestrial systems, and addressing pressures arising from human use of arctic coastal and near-shore areas as sea ice diminishes"
While more research and more reviews are expected in the future to answer some of the many unanswered questions regarding the loss of sea ice and what it means for life in the Arctic, researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks are hopeful.
"This all illustrates the complexity of the Arctic system and why scientists from different disciplines should work together to understand it," Bhatt said in the press release. "The review article is one of the first steps in this direction."
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Green shows ice present in 2013 which was not present on this date in 2012. Red shows the opposite. There has been a 73% increase in ice since this date last year.
ScreenHunter_531 Aug. 29 14.02
Our top government experts say that all of the ice is doing to melt in the next few seconds.
the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer of 2013
- John Kerry, US Secretary of State
ScreenHunter_409 Jan. 18 21.32
James Hansen : ‘This is the last chance’
“We see a tipping point occurring right before our eyes,” Hansen told the AP before the luncheon. “The Arctic is the first tipping point and it’s occurring exactly the way we said it would.”
Hansen, echoing work by other scientists, said that in five to 10 years, the Arctic will be free of sea ice in the summer.
June 26, 2013
The alarming loss of sea ice which has grown worse each summer over the past several decades, has taken a sharp turn for the worse: this year the loss is right in the middle, the most resilient part of the ice cover. This could lead to a completely ice-free Arctic Ocean by September.
ScreenHunter_165 Jul. 17 11.51

Rowers discover reality but blinded by Sponsor funding and Media to tell a bunch of ignorant BS

Rowers Discover That Mark Serreze’ Linear Trends Are A Bunch Of Breathtakingly Ignorant BS

It turns out that climate is cyclical, not linear, and does not correlate with CO2.
Our ice router Victor has been very clear in what lies ahead. He writes, “Just to give you the danger of ice situation at the eastern Arctic, Eef Willems of “Tooluka” (NED) pulled out of the game and returning to Greenland. At many Eastern places of NWP locals have not seen this type ice conditions. Residents of Resolute say 20 years have not seen anything like. Its, ice, ice and more ice. Larsen, Peel, Bellot, Regent and Barrow Strait are all choked. That is the only route to East. Already West Lancaster received -2C temperature expecting -7C on Tuesday with the snow.”
Richard Weber, my teammate to the South Pole in 2009 and without doubt the most accomplished polar skier alive today, is owner and operator of Arctic Watch on Cunningham Inlet at the northern end of Somerset Island. Arctic Watch faces out onto our proposed eastern route. Richard dropped me a note the other day advising: “This has been the coldest season with the most ice since we started Arctic Watch in 2000. Almost no whales. The NWPassage is still blocked with ice. Some of the bays still have not melted!”

Responses to Rowers Discover 

  1. gofer says:
    And after all that, they still had the balls to make this statement.
    “…Our message remains unaffected though, bringing awareness to the pressing issues of climate change in the arctic.”
  2. Colorado Wellington says:
    I remember they made several other noteworthy discoveries:
    1. The bulky boat they had custom-built for their Arctic trip can’t be rowed against the wind.
    2. There is wind in the Arctic.
    3. Their trip was possible because of climate change and no ice.
    4. Their trip was not possible because of bad weather and ice.
    5. The locals told them winters are shorter and warmer.
    6. The locals told them they can’t continue because of winter.
    7. Men who stop shaving grow beards.
    8. Men who stop bathing smell bad.
    9. Smelly men with beards locked in a small cabin during a stupid trip don’t kill each other despite the availability of 2 marine shotguns.
    Did I forget anything else of great societal import?
 Chewer says:
Team Twisted received a severe spanking, but their documentary will show it to be a total success.
I can’t wait till they make an attempt again next year-:)

Jack Savage says:
The lesson I am taking away from this is that some (most? me too? ) people, even if you beat them over the head with evidence that their belief might be erroneous, continue to believe nevertheless. The Arctic must be warm because the scientists and the Inuit say so. I expect that they will be coming back to try again next year? Some how I think their “belief” will not extend to that.
I wonder if their experience will have had a chilling effect on expeditions being planned for next year.
Maybe next year the heat will emerge from the oceans as Joule-zilla.

Edmonon Al says:
Andy and Stephen are correct in their assessments.
These buffoons will probably go back to Vancouver; get a Government grant and mount the piece of junk…….sorry…… the Arctic Joule, on a pedestal, with a big plaque that boasts of their great feat of “bringing awareness to the pressing issues of climate change in the arctic.”


Preparing to navigate Cape Bathurst ice choke-point - comparing NWS v CIS graphics

As the yachts approach Cape Bathurst west bound to Alaska they need a plan of action - push or wait, if push what should be the route to try... inshore, offshore, hook and cover... so here is the data from the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Canadian Ice Service (CIS).

Who would you rely on?  Is the ice 1/10? or is it 1-3/10 Young Ice (4-12" thick)? Does the difference in detail matter?

What say you arm chair skippers?


Cape Bathurst section expanded snip


Cape Bathurst section expanded

I think the decision is obvious... lots of zig-zagging! Push! Neither chart contradicts an attempt to set a route to navigate around Cape Bathurst.
1) Time is of the essence to reach Nome and on to Sand Point or beyond before the weather becomes intense.
2) Point Barrow is open. NWS says there is a chance of Chukchi Sea ice moving towards shore. Will keep a watch on this location.

Standing by...

FYI - USCGS HEALY Aloftcon webcam - 1/10 ice? Close enough.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Where are the icebreakers? Here is the info available on 20130830 - RESCUE VIDEO

CCGS SIR WILFRID LAURIER - West King William Island (Franklin Expedition search)


File:CCGS Amundsen.jpg
CCGS AMUNDSEN - just north of ice blocked Prince Regent Inlet in Lancaster Sound


CCGS PIERRE RADISSON - Departed Churchill River in Hudson Bay


USCGC HEALY - offshore near Mckenzie River 70°00'N, -137°12W


Video url:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

S/V (cat) LIBELLULE makes their NW Passage half-way with arrival at Cambridge Bay - CREW CHANGE

An extraordinary journey

29.08.2013, Edmonton

Sitting with girls in a DASH 8-100, I see the clouds through the windows and I realize that we have indeed succeeded the famous Northwest Passage! (At least the first part, because for men the journey continues for a few weeks ...) I still can not really believe it, and yet I understand better after the last intense weeks why we are the first catamaran in trying.
few moments I remain long in the memory:
- the fascinating ballet whales gave us shortly after our first fishing trip in Nuuk and the little knot in my stomach at the thought that they could reverse our a boat tail flick
- the taste of crabs we received with pleasure fishing Greenland (water me up at the mouth just thinking back, it's also crazy as our taste buds are all more responsive when navigating, meals taking a central role in current days)
- the hectic nights hunt floes suddenly disturbing the tranquility of a bay so far untouched by the ice
- my dip in the icy water at 2 degrees during a turn solo kayak with a dry suit that I had not closed ...
- the adrenaline rush when we crossed the ice to Disko Bay
- the mixture of gratitude - the feeling of having opportunity to observe so closely the nature and at the same time vulnerable to its laws that are stronger than us
- frostbite that traumatized our poor feet
- responsiveness and decision making that are necessary when navigating in waters with complex weather
- air first surprised the bear we met and his nonchalance when he realized that we were not something to put in their mouths
- the extreme tension that has invaded the whole crew while we were crossing the output of Bellot Strait, after Henry Larsen had broken the ice
- the feeling of claustrophobia when the ice surrounded increasingly Dragonfly and we wanted to get out of labyrinth of ice into the southern Peel Sound
- our laughter while the benevolent policeman Cambridge Bay from his car advised us back to the boat because he had heard gunshots he could not identify and did not want anything to happen to us (even though it was us who came just to break our joy by firing fireworks in the sky ...) This extraordinary journey has confirmed one .my husband is even crazier than I thought it would have driven us in this adventure 2. we are fortunate to have three amazing girls who have always remained optimistic and zen and 3 despite the difficult conditions. that without determination and perseverance, we get nowhere! We must now take six flights to return to Switzerland, short stay to prepare our new bags and leave two days later for a different life ... Shanghai! A big thank you to Yves Sylvain and without whom this expedition would not have been possible!

NW Passage


29.08.2013, Edmonton

I think that experience alone in the middle of ice were very instructive. Could I say : It was very nice yesterday what it was too, but it was much more. It was not only the many beautiful landscapes , but also that particular feeling when the icebergs and floes crack sidewall year . I mean, it's really scary sometimes . And what was also new to me, friendships are the ones we 've made, the other people on the other boats that are in the same location . We also have the same goal and help each other, I think that's great. I find it funny how all agree on VHF, it's just different and that makes it exciting and instructive, I think. It's too complicated to explain . What I mean by that Will is that sometimes everything comes so fast aussi much as ice and immediately we create and we wegmüssen there anyway to help each other and such. This is a new feeling and I think it's great .
What I also liked was the free time for myself that I had. Although short were the days are quickly unbelievably flew past , because I usually get up at the " Dragonfly" until eleven clock , I was able to finally evil write stories and listen to music without having to constantly think "I should now I actually do homework ... " adding but I have that to me now most of my 1000 songs hanging out the neck. :)
I think in this one and a half months I have photographed more than a year all over . 1500 photos :) until now that is my record . But you can also not help with all the landscapes , colorful Gehrau to Greenland , the sun reflections in the water , some fantastic clouds in the sky and the animals. I think aussi , I've really learned a lot. I would have loved to have stayed longer here , although very tempting idea, of course, is once again properly and warm shower and to be back in the heat. :)

NW Passage

Crew Exchange

29/08/2013, Dease Strait

Today, We had a big big crew change: Marielle, Naima, Line and Anissa flew off via Kugluktuk, Yellowknife, Edmonton, Montreal and Zurich to Shanghai, Where the Girls Will join Their new school. The boat feels very empty without em. No one reading, drawing or giggling. No music from iPods, less stuff lying around, less movement. No more ginger tea and Bircher Muesli in the mornings and hot water bottles in the evenings. Only men left (Yves Sylvain, myself). We are very sad That they're gone. goal we got two new crew members: My uncle Michael Dechamps from Munich, as well as Richard Tegner from Stockholm. Richard was INITIALLY Reviews another boat is doing the passing, the Swedish DAX goal due to engine failure They Had to give up in Pond Inlet and Richard Continued for a while on an expedition cruise ship Akademik Ioffe before joining Dragonfly in Cambridge. Arte is filming a 10-hour documentary on the Polar Sea, share of All which Consists of filming Richard's progress - And They Actually About did a movie session with us today. And then there was a lot happening in Cambridge in general today: There Were 5 sailboats (east to west) and three sailboats (west to east) on the dock. Then cruise ship Hanseatic arrived. And then one rowing boat and two kayakers arrived (west to east). Everyone at the same time, timed by the recent ice opening. Annual rush hour in Cambridge Bay! We left Cambridge Bay again in the evening, as we want to get as west as Quickly as possible, that 'is before the sea ice around Barrow Will close again with new ice. First leg: Cambridge Bay Tuktoyaktuk 700 nm (appr 5 days). The tricky hand Will Be Cape Bathurst, Where There is still 2/10 to 5/10 ice ...

NW Passage 

Arrival in Cambridge Bay

27/08/2013, Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

Just arrived in Cambridge Bay! Huuurrrraaayyy! All are safe and happy. Dragonfly is the second sailing boat to arrive from the east in Cambridge Bay this year. . It feels strange to back in the civilization More later - we need some drinks first ...

On August 29th 2012 in NW Passage History - POLAR BOUND becomes the first yacht to navigate a Route 1 West Northwest Passage via McClure Strait

Date: 20120829 1200hrs - Position 74 21 62N -124 57 36W

(GBR) Our greatest living Yachtsman, David Scott Cowper, age 70, and Jane Maufe as crew aboard M/V POLAR BOUND has become the first yacht and crew in history to successfully navigate through McClure Strait over the top of Banks Island on the original Northwest Passage route discovered by Captain Robert McClure in 1851 aboard HMS INVESTIGATOR.

Captain David Scott Cowper has done what no one else in the last 161 years could - not even the 1,005 foot, 43,000hp Icebreaker SS MANHATTAN could not transit through the sea ice - she had to turn around in McClure Strait - Captain Cowper achieved his accomplishment with his specially built aluminum 48 foot M/V POLAR BOUND powered with a single 170hp Gardner 8LXB engine carrying 10 tons of diesel fuel.

August 29, 2013, Captain Cowper and Jane Maufe, who by the way is the fourth Great Niece of Sir John Franklin, are aboard M/V POLAR BOUND in Cambridge Bay and reportedly will proceed east for Bellot Strait to stop at historic Fort Ross and cache a new visitor's logbook for signatures.

David Scott Cowper has completed five (5) official Northwest Passages (four solo and one with crew) passing through the Atlantic Arctic Circle and the Pacific Arctic Circles; in 1986 aboard M/V MABLE E. HOLLAND, in 2001, 2009, 2011 & 2012 aboard M/V POLAR BOUND.

Upon completing this 2013 Passage David Scott Cowper will have six Northwest Passages to his credit.

My hat goes off to you and Jane! A job well done!

File:Cowper fortross 2004.jpg
What a difference a year make - McClure Strait ice chart today on 20130829

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

FAIRMONT's PASSION rowboat ends 41 day 725nm voyage from Inuvik to Cambridge Bay

Beyond the Circle
about an hour ago via mobile

20130828 is the end of day 41 and we are...finished!! We arrived in Cambridge Bay a few hours ago, tired, cold but incredibly happy. Time for a hot shower, a cold beer and a warm bed. (17nm/day average distance made good.)

A trip of a lifetime... photographed with cell phones?  (Get a GPS embedded 21X Zoom HD digital camera... Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10 or better and save those memories in both stills and videos.)

- - - snip - - -

Home sweet home

We lived, we learnt, we loved.
After 2000km, 41 showerless days, 3 grizzly bears, and a few near misses, we arrived in Cambridge Bay.
18 months earlier from the warmth and comfort of my living room we had traced our finger over the charts, zipping across bays, down straits, and through passages in no time. It all seemed so do-able. Out here reality quickly proved otherwise. But our last day on the water summed up our journey perfectly, it had it all.
Hoping for a favorable breeze to ease our final run for home, we woke to freezing conditions and an inky calm sea. Our dreams of finishing today looked dashed, before we’d even begun. On painful feet, from weeks of cold, we hobbled around like two old men breaking camp and packing the boat. The sun mercifully poked its head through the clouds occasionally, giving us hope. Steeling ourselves for a long day on the oars we started into our hourly rowing shifts, but sensing we might not make the finishing line today our spirits were low…yet out here ever hopeful of a change in fortunes.
Three hours in our prayers were answered as a breath of southerly rippled the calm seas. Sniffing a chance we had the sails up in a minute and continued to row harder, egged along by the strengthening breeze.
After the odd spot of rain, sunshine our long lost friend, poked her head out of the clouds. Matt and I buzzed with excitement, a good breeze, sunshine and the finishing line in the same day all seemed like a possibility.
As we neared Cambridge Bay cabins began to dot the shoreline and planes buzzed overhead. After 6 weeks of little to no sign of mankind these new sights brought on a weird bittersweet sensation. We were soon to escape our pain and privations for the ‘normal’ world, but we would also soon loose our much loved simple life.
7 hours after setting out we pulled to shore under the incredulous eyes of sailors from boats much bigger than Fairmont’s Passion mere 17 feet. She was dwarfed at the wharf alongside her bigger bretheren, but bobbed proudly. In a funny coincidence we arrived a few hours later than our new found friends from the rowboat Arctic Joule. Both of our journeys were finishing here and we celebrated as only those who have lived to tell the tales can.
Thank you to all for your support and kind words, they were and will be felt and remembered for a long time. Now it’s onto the next adventure…
Go Beyond
Cam & Matt

ROWING ICE propelled by Charles Hendrich arrives Tuktoyaktuk NWT Canada

ICE ROWER propelled by Charles Hendrich rowing alone departed Wales Alaska on July 1st and just reached Tuktoyaktuk in the NWT of Canada on August 27th, some 865 nautical miles. After 58 days underway Charles has made a good speed of 15 nautical miles a day - KUDOS!

With Cape Bathhurst ahead surrounded by 5/10 sea ice his route on the Northwest Passage is blocked. I think its time to call it a season and lay up ICE ROWER at Touktoyaktuk for the winter and evaluate returning next year to pickup the oars. Continuing on to Cambridge Bay some 660 nautical miles distant would require 44 or more days. Say an ETA of October 10th? Which is too late in the Fall with a mean temperature of only 11F with an average low temperature of 5F.  I think it would be foolish to push ahead into those conditions - especially without a heater or emergency tracker aboard. Muscle rowing power cramps in the freezing cold.

Comments please.

Ready to start at Wales Alaska - July 1st 2013

Enroute pictures

Arriving Tuktoyaktuk NWT Canada on August 27, 2013


The legendary Arctic Northwest Passage has become blocked with 5/10 concentrated drifting sea ice at both the eastern and at the western ends of Canada’s Arctic Archipelago.

Prince Regent Inlet in position 73.7880535N, -89.2529297W became blocked on 20130827 with 5/10 ice concentration with 7/10 ice pushing. This effectively closes the 2013 Northwest Passage without Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker escorts for transit. Currently there is a commercial cruise ship on a west to east passage which will reach Prince Regent Inlet in another day. It is unknown if there is a CCG icebreaker in the area to provide assistance since government ships do not provide Automatic Identification Service (AIS) to public AIS websites. Since one of the Canadian Coast Guard’s prime missions is to provide icebreaking for commercial shipping it will be interesting to see if they view this opportunity for good public relations to help recreational yachts transiting the Northwest Passage.

Another choke-point stopping marine traffic is on the western Canadian Arctic at Cape Bathurst in position 70.6672443N, -128.2763672W which became blocked on 20130826 with 2/10 ice concentration and quickly filled with 5/10 ice on 20130827 and today has 8/10 ice pushing towards Cape Bathurst.

There are a number of yachts known to be in the Cambridge Bay area heading west: ACALEPHE (CA), ISATIS (NEW CALEDONIA), LA BELLE EPOQUE (DE), LIBELLULE (CHE), NOEME (FRA), and TRAVERSAY III (CA).  PAS PERDU LE NORD (DE) was ahead by 10 days and has already gone on to Arctic Alaska waters. While BALTHAZAR (CA) departed from Inuvik a month ago and is now on the hard in Nome Alaska.

The following yachts are enroute from the west to the east: ANNA (?), rowboat ARCTIC JOULE (CA), DODO'S DELIGHT (GBR), EMPIRICUS (USA). rowboat FAIRMONT's PASSION (USA), tandem-kayak IKIMAYIA (CA), in Russian sea ice is LADY DANA (POL), POLAR BOUND (GBR), rowboat ROWING ICE (FRA), in Russian sea ice is TARA (FRA), and a group of jetskis known as DANGEROUS WATERS (USA) reported east of Gjoa Haven.

Several updates on known others: LE MANGUIER (FRA) is wintering over in the ice at Paulatuk. Motor Yacht Lady M II (Marshal Islands) was escorted by CCGS icebreaker HENRY LARSEN through Bellot Strait eastbound on 20130824. ARCTIC TERN (GBR) and TOOLUKA (NED) retreated to the east towards Greenland/Newfoundland away from Bellot Strait on 20130822 with the opinion that the Arctic ice was finished melting and freeze-up would prevent them from reaching the Northwest Passage finish line at the Arctic Circle in the Bering Strait.

So now the real question is if and when the Canadian Coast Guard decides to take early action to help the above yachts exit the Arctic before freeze-up or will they wait until it becomes an emergency rescue operation? Lemons turned to public relations good will is the obvious choice – what do you think they will do?

CCGS icebreaker HENRY LARSEN entering Bellot Strait

Canadian Ice Service chart references:

Another door closes in the Western Canadian Arctic - Cape Bathurst - CCG icebreaker?

The Western Canadian Arctic at Cape Bathurst is closed to marine navigation with a 5/10 Beaufort Sea ice blockage. Will the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) respond with icebreaker escorts?  Only if the vessels needing help makes early requests - i.e. BEFORE DEPARTING CAMBRIDGE BAY.

This is the last place the "Fat Lady" is likely to sing but she is already warming up... early freeze-up?

Eastern door on 2013 Northwest Passage closing at Prince Regent Inlet - CCG icebreaker?

Mother Nature is closing the most used Northwest Passage navigation route at PRINCE REGENT INLET. Only a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker could open it momentarily - but could a yacht without custom buildings follow an icebreaker without damage through the ice is another matter of discussion. 


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

S/V TRAVERSAY III updates the run of five yachts to Cambridge Bay - Time is of the essence!

SV Traversay III

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Onward ...

As the gale that had us pinned down in Willis Bay, Prince of Wales Island, began to reduce its intensity, the August 25 ice charts showed that those strong west winds had had a profound effect in reducing the ice in Peel Sound.

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 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

Arctic Alaska Sea Ice Risk Scenario - A high alert needs to be kept for early warning

Uwe in Germany is concerned, as I am, about the Beaufort Sea ice moving south into the Arctic Alaska coastline and creating a gigantic sea ice blockage for marine traffic.

Take a look at the current satellite images, natural and with false colors, then compare your observations with the current National Weather System ice chart for Arctic Alaska.

Next, do you remember the Arctic Cyclone of 2012This cyclone’s central sea level pressure reached about 964 millibars on August 6, 2012—a number more typical of a winter cyclone. That pressure puts it within the lowest 3 percent of all minimum daily sea level pressures recorded north of 70 degrees latitude. This storm formed and intensified near the Beaufort Sea and moved to the central Arctic Ocean where it slowly lost its intensity over the next several days. Ordinarily, the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean are dominated by high pressure, so having a low pressure system form and intensify here is quite uncommon.

I don't need to remind you what the consequences could be if there was a major low pressure weather system in Arctic Alaska during the time when Northwest Passage yachts are making a westward run from the Mackenzie River area of Canada. Here is today's NWS weather forecast across the western Arctic region. 998 millibars is not low enough to worry me today... but the Fall to winter tropical weather systems from the Orient will soon be marching our way into Alaska with Siberian weather spiraling eastward colliding in Arctic Alaska. OUCH! Super storm? Cyclone?

My advise for NWP yachts - stage at Tuktoyaktuk or Herschel Island and identify a minimum 3-4 day good weather window to 'turn the corner' at Point Barrow for Nome Alaska.
STAY TUNED IN - this is not over until the fat lady sings in October.