22-08-2013 positie: 72°00' N 094°13' W - Depot Bay, Fort Ross
temperatuur: 0,2 gr
watertemperatuur: 0,1 gr
wind: SE 4 Bft
barometer: 1002 hPa
mijlen totaal sinds upernavik: 943M
Dear friends of us and Tooluka, the decision has been taken, we give up our attempt to get through the NW Passage and turn around. Tonight I'll write a more detailed story, we are already underway and the sails ask for attention! Best reghards from all of us, Eef
22-08-2013 positie: 72°11' N 091°47' W - Prince Regent Inlet
temperatuur: 0,2 gr
watertemperatuur: 0,1 gr
wind: SE 5-> E 3 Bft
barometer: 1002->998 hPa
mijlen vandaag: 53M
mijlen totaal sinds upernavik: 996M
Time to give an explanation to our decision to give up our attempt to cross the NW Passage (NWP) this season. It's the conclusion of many thoughts, talks and considerations, both with our own team, and with our colleagues on yachts and ships around us. It's very disappointing for us and everybody who follows us from a distance, but if it was a hard decision? No, not really. The weather is variable, global warming not lineair and the time span to sail this passage in one summer is at best short. Last winter was cold and this summer has shown more N and W winds than the Easterlies that help clearing this side of the passage. Then there is a clear difference in water temperature between this year and the last years. We experience water temperatures of around zero C., whereas yachts of the past years talk about 5+. This means that ice melts slower and that it will freeze sooner, once temperatures start dropping again. This will shorten the time you are given to get through the passage.
This morning "Sea Adventurer", a 100 m cruise ship with many years of experience in the MWP, wanted to sail to the west end of the Bellot Strait, but had to turn around earlier because of 'solid ice'. SO absolutely no option for us. From tomorrow end of the afternoon a strong westerly is expected. Our last hope was that we could get through Bellot Strait today, which would give us 24 hours to get S of the thick ice before the wind would push more ice towards the coast. With that option lost, we would have to wait until well after the westerly wind for the strait to open again. Precious time would be lost. At the same time more ice from the NW would block Larsen Sound and Victoria Strait, closing our possible shortcut to Cambridge Bay. 150 miles extra via Gjoa: fun if you have time, but giving one extra stress when in a hurry.
Then the west side of the NWP: the bottleneck is Barrow Point, from Bellot Strait (via Gjoa) about 1700 miles. Then another 600 to Nome plus a minimum of 1200 to Seward, our planned wintering spot. North of Alaska there is still a lot of ice and N winds push it from the Beaufort Sea towards the shore. Add to that the longer nights, during which you may have to heave to because of ice, and it takes even more time. Temperatures will drop (now around 0 C), at less than -2C spray will cause icing: at best very hard to work in, possibly very dangerous! In other words: time to find a wintering spot! As I have to spend the winter in Holland to teach, I have to leave Tooluka behind in a safe spot. So wintering in the NWP is no option, and then the risks of gambling for the west side seem to big and we turn around. So in fact it's quite an easy decision. Do I explain it clearly?
Next question: what's next? When the decision had been taken the moment of departure came very suddenly: big ice came floating into the bay and we were in the way. The weather forecast for Prince Regent Inlet gives a favourable SE wind until tomorrow afternoon, so we left right away. From Saturday onwards a low is expected to pass S of us, bringing wind. If this is the case it will be easterly which we need, as for the time being our back door is closed. The entrance to Prince Regent Inlet has a wide yellow band, meaning 4/10 to 6/10 of ice. Too much for us, especially in combination with some wind and seaway, but hopefully this easterly will free a corridor along the coast, through which we can escape! The Lancaster Sound lies open for us and we'll hope for another wind direction! We don't have any definite plans yet for that point, Arctic Bay sounds like fun, maybe Pond Inlet and after that it's still a big question mark. We can follow the Baffin Island coast or cross to Greenland. We can return to Aasiaat and winter there or continue south to New Foundland and find a spot there (Arctic Tern is just like us on their way N and knows the way there). No idea yet. The beautiful thing with a sailing vessel is that you have the world at your feet! We plan on enjoying that for the time to come and little by little a plan will crystallize. We'll keep you posted. So far for now, warm regards from Tooluka, from all 6 of us, Eef