The boat has loose kit everywhere so thats been a focus, she is also quiet 'well used' another focus! Clearly the past Alaskan winter has had its toll… and whilst cleaning has taken place she needs some maintenance.
Saturday was easy for me the latecomer, I explored the delights of Nome (took me 1 hr - Steph another crew member has been here 3 weeks and knows everyone and everything). Nome is famous for two things, being a WW1 airbase for the USA, and being the Bering Sea Gold rush town. The former still shows more recent cold war early warning equipment - now being decommissioned. The latter is very active.
In my view, having worked in the Southern United States, Americans can be a little naive at times. I am finding the locals - and the "down from towners" - whether Californian, Virginian or New Yorkers very worldly, pleasant & interesting - a nice surprise! However Nome is very basic, in mid winter it would be very harsh here. Pick ups - until they stop running are big, rusty and dirty. The town is sprawling, tired, and simple. The "scrap yards" (back yards) are littered with cast off machines - boats, skidoos, pick ups (& more pick ups). The homes - at least externally - would be viewed as most in the UK as ready for a bulldozer. But generosity is evident, interest is there and Alaska has a great feel for the recent blow in from Cowes IoW!
Today (Monday), I walked along the dirt roads to AC's, the local supermarket - and only in the USA can a town that is so bleak, in some ways deprived and simple, have a supermarket that sells everything - Quad bikes to carrots! Oh and Wifi! Then Bob (the skipper) passed me the various boxes of an auto-helm (mechanical / electrical self steering equipment for a yacht) and suggested as I am the youngest (and therefore the most tech savvy!) I should fit it - little does he know about me. However at time of writing I'm pleased to say all the mechanics are installed (today we had no rain) externally and tomorrow I start the electronics.
The intention is not to sit and enjoy Nome but to do the NW Passage!
We have two natural elements to deal with… Wind and Ice. More on that later.
Bye for now, Richard
We have two natural elements to deal with on our trip… Wind and Ice.
We will benefit from wind from the South (or between SE to WSW or as close to).
Ice thickness is measured in tenths… 10/10th is impossible (even for purpose built ice breakers) - up to 4/10th is explorable by us… though we actually will only be able to get through 2 or 3/10ths and need in an ideal world 2/10th or lower.
Anything against this makes it difficult, at time dangerous (a North wind means an on shore wind - and we will have "no where to go" - and the coast is very shallow), 4/10th ice or more will certainly stop the boat, and combined with an adverse wind can break the boat.
Tomorrow (July 30th) we are going to try and catch the gap…. what is that?
We are effectively 500 miles south of Barrow Point - which is the NW corner of Alaska (nice views of Russia). That's 4-5 days in this boat. We also have light winds from the S - SW so will be having to do some under engine (to hit the timeframe - and this will give me time to complete the auto pilot installation).
Major issue there is NO WHERE to run to for the coming 800 miles - no storm shelter, no harbour and we are expecting a Northerly (possibly gale) at the end of the week. Worst case we get there and have to do a 180 degrees turn and run south again. But the skipper asked our views - and bearing in mind how long the others have been waiting - the unanimous view was to give it a go. I am now actually looking at the storm shelters as I am more ambitious at finding a hole we can drop into. The biggest issue is water depth as it is so shallow, and the approach has (as viewed from the approaching plane) so many moveable sand banks / spits.
Please, if you could spare even a fiver, do sponsor me by supporting the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust - all monies donated go directly to the charity.
Now it's time to see how I can work the sat phone, as the next update will come from that!
Richard Over & Out.
Brief text from the Sat Phone - "We are at Point Hope, circa 300 miles north of Nome. Northerly winds are closing the ice, so we are waiting here for Southerly winds to return.
I spent the first 2 days at sea fixing the engine, touch wood I've sorted it!"
- - - SNIP - - -