Tuesday, August 20, 2013

20130820 Bellot Strait in the background from the Cottier family on S/V Libellule - Maybe 2/10 ice max


Après 30H de navigation, nous voilà arrivés à l'entrée du détroit de Bellot. Nouvelle attente. Seuls dans le Hazard Inlet.

After 30H navigation, we have arrived at the entrance of Bellot Strait. New expectation. Only in the Hazard Inlet.


Should we stay or should we go, come on and let me know!
http://www.sailblogs.com/member/libellule/?xjMsgID=284590

PC
20/08/2013, Levesque Harbor, E Bellot Strait



Tooluka, Arctic Tern and Libellule waiting at Levesque Harbor, just off the eastern end of Bellot Strait. The ice flow in the middle ended up chasing us away from our anchorage. But then we boarded the floe to take some Xmas pictures on top of it, which was real fun.

The ice conditions are still very bad in Bellot Strait. So much so that all the seven sailing boats waiting on this side of the Strait are discussing whether to abandon the whole NW Passage project. The problem is that even if the Strait becomes passable in a week or two, the winter may start early in which case the boats would not make it around Alaska anymore since the ice there is still very close to shore. So the decision is either to turn around and head back down to Newfoundland, or to continue but risk being closed in by ice somewhere around Tuktoyaktuk or Northern Alaska and having to spend the winter in the Arctic. We'll probably need to take the decision this weekend...


COMMENTS:
20/08/2013 | Douglas Pohl
STAY THE COURSE - BELLOT STRAIT WILL OPEN FOR NAVIGATION TO GJOA HAVEN BY AUGUST 27. POINT BARROW WILL REMAIN OPEN UNTIL LATE SEPTEMBER - ONLY WORRY IS AN ARCTIC SUPER STORM - FIRST GET TO HERSCHEL ISLAND THEN WORRY ABOUT ALASKA WEATHER. USCG ICEBREAKER HEALY WORKING SCIENCE NEAR PT BARROW. USE POWER OF GROUP EFFORT TO RECON BELLOT STRAIT BY SKIFFS TO PLAN GROUP AUG 27 TRANSIT. YOU CAN DO IT! POLAR BOUND IS NEAR PRUDHOE BAY EAST BOUND TO BELLOT STRAIT AT 6KTS. JETSKIERS DEPARTED CAMBRIDGE BAY AUG 19 FOR GJOA HAVEN. ADVISE IF YOU NEED MORE ASSISTANCE. STAY SAFE, DOUG

OK wannabe Northwest Passage captains - make the call.

Yes, the ice is tight along the Arctic Alaska coast but more important is to watch the polar weather systems - wind moves ice!



Uwe from Germany offers comparisons between the last three years for Queen Maud ice charts - Thanks.

While its obvious that Bellot Strait is a choke-point in 2013 it is also important to remember that the ice in just the past day has been changed from 9+ down to 5/10 which tells me there is still melting albedo energy in effect - also remember this sensing is done from satellite and/or aircraft flyover including human observation - its not perfect so a 5/10 could just as likely be 3/10 in this strong tidal area so lets add the Strait's strong flushing tidal currents and you have optimum opportunity for further ice reduction to make the transit in the next week. You should be reconing the Strait in your skiff and making detailed plans - just think of it - seven boat are there - what a big opportunity to use the power of the group.  

If you are still at Bellot Strait in the first week of September - you have missed the NWP bus... I'd know and have planned several alternatives and get underway out of the Arctic.



More comments overnight:

21/08/2013 | Roger & Yvonne
Ihr seid wirklich tapfere Seefahrer und Eisbezwinger. Wir staunen nur. Sicher werdet es ihr weiterhin schaffen und vorankommen. Danke, es ist eine grosse Freude eure herzerwärmenden Portraits zu sehen. Die immensen Landschaftsleeren wunderschön. Moustache ist viel in unserem Garten. Yvonne meint, er sehe etwas ruhiger aus. Aber er macht es gut mit unseren Mäusen. Ich habe ihm eure Namen einzeln zu gerufen, dass ihr wohlauf seid. Er hat ganz aufmerksam zugehört. Ich denke er hat es verstanden. Also, weiterhin, viel Bewahrung, Gottes Schutz und gute Weiterreise. Roger & Yvonne

21/08/2013 | Patrick
Une décision pas facile, mais il faut parfois écouter la voix de la nature et respecter les obstacles ou impossibilités qui se placent sur notre chemin. Peut-être qu'une route alternative apportera aussi de nombreuses satisfactions.

21/08/2013 | Uwe Burkheiser
…depends…in my view the ice situation along the Alaskan Coast deteriorated rapidly since Aug. 6th. THE ICE EDGE CONTINUES ALONG THE BEAUFORT SEA COAST TO NEAR DEADHORSE AND CONTINUES EAST NEAR 70N. THE EDGE IS 15 TO 60 NM OF OPEN WATER. FORECAST THROUGH SATURDAY...NORTH TO NORTHEAST FLOW OVER THE CHUKCHI WILL MOVE THE ICE TO THE SOUTHWEST 10 TO 15 NM THROUGH THE WEEK. THE LOW NORTH OF BANKS ISLAND WILL BRING COLDER NORTHWEST FLOW TO THE BEAUFORT ICE EDGE. THE ICE IN THE BEAUFORT WILL MOVE TO THE SOUTHEAST 10 TO 15 NM. FORECAST VALID...SATURDAY 24 AUGUST 2013 …so regardless of the Bellot situation, the real question is: Are you prepared to winter with the children along the Alaskan Coast… ,,,good luck and godspeed Uwe

While Uwe has a good point - remember it is August 21st - there is still time to transit Bellot Strait and turn the corner at Point Barrow before freeze up. 2013 is a late melt season - maybe one of the latest in the last 10 plus years... which means nothing is going to be black and white easy... it will require planning and organization - then a will to stick with the plan. Sure I know I'm sitting here ashore and I'm not in your shoes but I would not be encouraging you and your family unless I was willing to change places and put my recommendations on the line with you.

I am a professional mariner with 29+ years of sea service... a salty dog - lol - much of it in Alaska - I know and respect Alaska and will tell you that Point Barrow can be up and down like a show curtain but I would not run away just because of what is possible - lets deal in realities - stay focused on what is in front of you - Bellot Strait - then power west to Cambridge Bay, Tuktoy, Hershel Island, Barter Island, Prudoe Bay, Elson Lagoon then Point Barrow to Nome and on to Sand Point? Maybe more important - do you know your boat? Is it well maintained? Can you take it to weather confidently because Alaska is going to be your challenge. Your crew will be put to the test... its not IF but WHEN the weather comes calling. Pick your weather windows carefully by observing the weather approaching from Adak Alaska and from Russia.

K.I.S.S. - so lets take a back of the napkin quick-look analysis...

Bellot Strait to Gjoa Haven ~ 260nm @ 5kts = 52 hrs about 2 days
Gjoa Haven to Cambridge Bay ~ 260nm @ 5kts = 52 hrs about 2 days
Cambridge Bay to Tuktoy ~ 650nm @ 5kts = 130 hrs about 6 days
Tuktoy to Hershel ~ 140nm @ 5kts = 28 hrs about 1 day
Herschel to Point Barrow ~380nm @ 5kts = 76 hrs about 3 days
Point Barrow to Nome ~575nm @ 5kts = 115 hrs about 5 days
=====
Summary ~2265nm @5kts = 453 hrs or about 19 days
Add a day at each hamlet or way point is plus 5 days
About 24 days to go.
Add a given number of weather days based upon your crew and boat, say 6 days?

TOTALS: ~30 days to Nome.

BOTTOM LINE IS ABOUT A MONTH - YOU NEED TO MAKE A DECISION THIS COMING WEEK - UP ANCHOR BY THE END OF AUGUST.

Climate details - sailboats put crews on deck working gear - prepared?

                      Average Low (F)   Average High (F)
Location:         Sept     Oct          Sept     Oct
Cambridge Bay  27       05            35        17
Tuktoy             32       12            41        21 
Barrow             28       12            35        21
Nome              37        22           48        34

Reality check: (You are not wintering over in Nome - no facilities to haulout boats - so plan to resupply and sail south before the harbor ices over.)

Nome to Sand Point ~775nm @ 5 kts = 155 hrs or about 7 days.

Hello October - Are you prepared for sailing in the Fall in the Bering Sea?

Do you even know what I'm talking about?  Check weather archives and batten down your hatches.

Alaska and the Bering Sea is where the harsh reality of the North Pacific weather will come calling. You need experienced and seasoned crew for this passage.

Questions?  Go ahead...

Standing by,

Doug



4 comments:

Anonymous said...

WOW, the Northwest Passage is open for navigation... go boats go!

Anonymous said...

You hit it square on the head. Recon the Strait with all seven captains. Experienced ice masters need to step forward. Before saying 'NO' I'd recon it again and set a drop dead date based upon advise from the Jetskiers or POLAR BOUND when they reach Bellot Strait. You have come this far - continue to wait it out - ice is going to melt in the strong current channel - then be prepared to navigate around the mid-channel shoal rock through Bellot Strait. Keep going after resupply in Cambridge Bay - check weather at Tuktoy or Herschel for a weather window to round Point Barrow for Nome in a prudent manner. You will once again be challenged in the Bering Sea - knowing that make sure you have rested crew for storm weather navigations. Remember to prepare for PORT CLARENCE as an alternative harbor of refuge while approaching Nome. Questions? Ask now!

Captain on GREY GOOSE said...

I'd sail with you to hell and back... you definitely have the 'right stuff'. KUDOS!!!

Captain on GREY GOOSE said...

Don't forget the PM on the main, genset and stuffing box in Herschel Island before making a run for it - the Arctic and Bering Sea are no place to be changing oil and fuel filters... lol Boy Nome harbor is going to look real nice! "Welcome to Nome"

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