Wednesday, August 21, 2013

S/V TOOLUKA waiting at East Bellot Strait for better conditions - WHEN? HOW LONG? DECISION TIME!

Location -

During the trips Tooluka makes this season, the location will be transmitted via e-mail over shortwave-radio or satellite.

Scroll down to see Tooluka's
most recent location.
Click here for a larger map.

During the Northwest passage you can follow Tooluka thanks to a little satellite tracker: a device that sends a position update every 10 minutes.
Click here to open the view the current position. In the left column you'll see all location. Use the 'page' buttons at the bottom to go back in time.

20-08-2013 positie: 71°54' N 094°28' W - Levesque Harbour, Bellot Strait
temperatuur: 1,4 gr
watertemperatuur: 2,1 gr
wind: kalm
barometer: 996->1000 hPa
mijlen totaal sinds upernavik: 933M
The 20th of August and still the western side of Bellot Strait is closed. Also the possible shortcut via Victoria Strait, in case the Bellot opens up, is still inaccessible for us. On board we keep of course a close eye on ice and weather forecasts. Jugo, our on-shore support guy in Holland, immediately sends the most recent information to us, on which we base our decisions. Time is running out and our chances of getting through this season are diminishing. At this moment we're 7 yachts, waiting for the first chance, but Bellot Strait, the gate to the passage, is still closed.
Sea ice is being expressed in tenths: so many tenths of the surface is covered with ice. The day before yesterday we experienced 2/10 of ice. In its own sailable for Tooluka. Nevertheless we ended up in a situation potentially dangerous for us, as this narrow band of ice closed in on us. The strong current moved the large slabs of ice in different directions and we had serious trouble getting out of it again. Tooluka got banged back and forth and in moments like that it's easy to imagine large vessels getting destroyed by ice and crews ending up on ice floes. These are the stories we know from the past, but they're definitely not past tense. So we won't attempt to get through a current hole like the Bellot Strait, with currents of 8-9 knots, in situations with any ice.
In short: time is getting short. August 21st, via the shortest route still 2300 miles to go, nights are getting longer and will force us to stop during longer parts each night. Your daily distances will get shorter. Next to that, day temperatures are only just above freezing, a little lower and we get an extra problem: icing. At air temperatures of <-2 C spray freezes, limits work on deck very much and is potentially dangerous. So all in all it's obvious that things have to change within a very short time. And if not, plan B is coming into effect.
For a few days already we're breeding here on an alternative plan, but it's still too early to share that with you. So keep following us, read more tomorrow, and I'll ask Jugo to place an ice chart on the website. Increasing amounts of ice show in green-yellow-orange-red, red being 9 to 10 tenths. Only green (1 to 3 tenth's) is navigable for us. Sleep well, Eef.
P.S. Hans-Peter's laundry hangs frozen stiff on the sea rail.

19-08-2013 positie: 71°54' N 094°28' W - Levesque Harbour, Bellot Strait
temperatuur: 5 gr
watertemperatuur: 3 gr
wind: kalm
barometer: 1001->998 hPa
mijlen totaal sinds upernavik: 933M
After a calm night in this wonderful bay we woke up halfway the morning. New neighbours had arrived: old friends from my Ushuaia time, Les and Ali on Arctic Tern. We had already seen each other again during the past 2 years that they sailed in Greenland, and this year again in Upernavik, and now here. So lots to talk about! But the general talk between us 7 yachts at anchor here in the area is what to do next. What are our options and when do we need to call this off? This morning Les and Ali came over for coffee and freshly baked cake, tonight Philipp and crew of Libellule, and both times this main question keeping us busy was discussed. Philipp has the best ice charts, full colour A4 printed, the rest of us does with small cut outs of just the area we're in. But Philipp's new charts very clearly showed even more ice than yesterday in Franklin Strait and on the W-side of Bellot Strait, so it looks even worse than yesterday. Bad news, but we're pushing off this final decision, al
though we do discuss our options and possible alternatives. Too early to share this with you, but we'll keep you posted! In between we went for a hike ashore. An amazingly different environment, lots of grass, a really green look to it, and lots of droppings of different animals: hare, fox, musk ox and polar beer, but none of the animals actually showed themselves.
Late afternoon we hove anchor to drop it again a little further away from a rock, having the forecasted strong N-ly in mind. Then good food, Libellule's visit, which was really nice, and now a movie before our bunks invite us again for more sleep. To be continued, sleep well, Eef and the Tooluka-team.

18-08-2013 positie: 71°54' N 094°28' W - Levesque Harbour, Bellot Strait
temperatuur: 2 gr
watertemperatuur: 1 gr
wind: variabel
barometer: 1006-> 1002 hPa
koers: S
mijlen vandaag: 149M
mijlen totaal sinds upernavik: 933M
Just after midnight the anchor finally feel in Levesque Harbour, a very nice little bay just S of Bellot Strait. The way here was long, first by engine with a following current, with the sails helping us, making great progress. But by the time we thought we had arrived, when Fort Ross, at the entrance of Bellot Strait came within sight, we had to slow down. A lot of ice blocked Fort Ross, the next alternative was a bay N of the former settlement, also blocked by ice. Then we contacted our friends on another yacht and tried to reach them. Well then we seriously got into ice, a little too thick and too much for Tooluka, and because of the strong current it became uncomfortable. But we managed to get out again, which was just as well! We then retreated back the way we came and looked for a better spot which we found in this wonderful bay. Our friends on 3 other yachts are a few miles further N at anchor, we feel we have the better spot and will invite them to join us here to discuss
our plans for the coming days. Bellot Strait is completely blocked, the W side of it has still 9 to 10 tenths of ice, completely blocked. The wind should be calm for a little while and then pick up from the N, hopefully blowing away the ice that's holding us here. Let's see what will happen next.
But we enjoyed the trip here, the sailing and the environment was fantastic, we had sunshine, fog, a beautiful fog arch, seals, bowhead whales, lots of ice and a beautiful sunset. Right now we're enjoying a nice little glass to celebrate our arrival here. And I'm sure we'll sleep well in this ice free little bay! Best regards from Tooluka, Eef + crew

17-08-2013 positie: 73°41' N 090°14' W - Prince Regent Inlet
temperatuur: 1 gr
watertemperatuur: 0 gr, ijs in de bilges!!
wind: WNW 5-6 Bft -> kalm
barometer: 1005 hPa
koers: S
mijlen vandaag: 59M
mijlen totaal sinds upernavik: 784M
We are underway! Finally the ice has opened up and the wind is from a good direction, so we have left our hiding hole and crossed the Lancaster Sound. The wind was still strong when we left and with a first reef in the main and a little bit of jib we reached speeds of 7,5 knots. When the wind died down a little we unfurled the jib and when it picked up again a little later, speeds hardly ever dropped below the 8,5 knots and were regularly over 9 knots. Fantastic sailing, very spectacular and a wonderful feeling after all those days at anchor and all the motoring before. So in a few hours we had laid back the 40 miles across the Sound and entered Pr Regent Inlet. Just past the bird sanctuary of Leopold Island we encountered our first ice. To the W of the island there is still 9/10 of ice, and some of it seeped through the narrow gap, to keep us busy. Fortunately the wind decreased at about the same time, so with a speed of 5-6 knots we managed to find ourselves a way through the first band and later through the rest of the ice. Not much, from a distance it looked completely closed, but on coming nearer a few openings became visible. By now, nearly midnight, we have rolled away the jib, the wind has died down completely, and we're steaming to the S. The forecast is for calm weather tomorrow, so we'll try to get to Bellot Strait as quickly as possible, to see if the ice at the other side has opened up. Information through a friend in Holland told us that for Greenland this is the coldest summer since registering temperatures and that the melt of sea ice stays far behind the average melt. We notice, apart from all the ice, that the water temperature is very low: around 0, and the frozen condensation water in the bilges confirms that! And that in the middle of August!! Right now we're enjoying being underway and moving in the right direction! No idea what is to come next, but we'll let you know when we've found out, Eef

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