Sunday, August 18, 2013

SV TRAVERSAY III - A Little South - Beechey Island to Fort Ross

Sunday, 18 August 2013

A Little South

In an email containing one of our compressed ice charts, friend David Lloyd commented that "It is a little like a chess game with the ice." 

We are continually asking ourselves "What will the ice do next?" and trying to keep from being surprised.

After a day and a half at anchor at Erebus and Terror Bay listening to howling winds and contemplating the accumulating snows on Beechey Island's lonely graveyard, a new ice map showed an angry 9/10 ice floe approaching Beechey from the west. Here in the Arctic, the day starts when it needs to start; not necessarily in the morning. So at 10:30 in the evening, we upped anchor and returned hastily to Scallon cove. We had accomplished nothing save lightening the boat of 100 liters of precious diesel fuel. .. well, sure - some of it certainly was used keeping us warm and would have been used anyway.

Fuel is a big issue here. Due to propane valve incompatibilities in various countries and perhaps a lack of interest in barbecues, we are now into the second of two tanks of cooking fuel - last filled in Stornoway, Scotland. Mary Anne soldiers on in the galley daily producing wonderful food for a hungry crew. Nonetheless her propane usage worries cramp her style with baking in the gas-hungry oven only allowed once a week. Diesel fuel is easy to find at any inhabited place; perhaps we will be lucky with propane too.

Returning to the story, on August 17, after less than a day at Scallon, the new ice chart showed our move had been prudent. Ice now filled Erebus and Terror Bay. On the negative side, it also showed Scallon to be threatened. We would have to leave right away. On the positive side, Peel Sound was beginning to clear out. While its entry from the north was plugged up, we could navigate through a narrow band of 2/10 ice into Prince Regent Inlet and perhaps enter Peel Sound through Bellot Strait if the clearing continued.

So at 5:30 in the afternoon, all three boats at Scallon, TRAVERSAY III, Swiss LIBELLULE and British ARCTIC TERN, set course to the southeast toward Bellot Strait's eastern entrance at Fort Ross, an abandoned HBC trading post.

Today has a different feel. The sea temperature has risen from 1C to 2C and the sun is shining. Is it really warmer or is the knowledge of having traveled 100 miles or so to the south fooling with our imaginations?

The pace seems to be quickening ... today's and tomorrow's ice charts will tell.

At 18/08/2013 17:40 (utc) our position was 72°59.46'N 091°30.83'W

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