Saturday, September 7, 2013

S/V LIBELLUE rounding Point Barrow tonight heading south for the Arctic Circle in the Bering Sea

Approaching Point Barrow

07/09/2013, Beaufort Sea

What a beautiful white rainbow! (Fog-Bow) This year really has-been trying for everyone. Of the 10 sailboats attempting the Northwest Passage from east to west (ie Greenland to Alaska), there are only five (s/b 6) left: Dragonfly and four (5) boats behind us a few days, namely Acal├Ęphe (CAN), Isatis (F), Belle Epoque (A) and (probably) Arktica (F) plus Traversay III. The boat that was ahead of us, Not Lose the North (B), apparently run aground on a sandbank off Point Barrow in a gale and the crew had to be rescued by helicopter. Traversay III (CA) unfortunately had to give up due to problems in Tuk with their propeller shaft (ENGINE MOUNTS REPAIRED). DAX (S) had an engine problem in Pond Inlet. Our dear friends on Tooluka (NL) and Arctic Tern (UK) turned around in Bellot Strait. Apparently, this year is equally difficulty for boats doing it in the other direction: one of 'em gave up in Cambridge Bay due to engine problems (
EMPIRICUS?). And the others are fighting with dense ice in Prince Regent Sound. Let's keep our fingers crossed. So far we have not had any major problems, only minor things like a damaged haulyard hand, anchor windlass, VHF malfunctioning, alternator, 2 water pumps, engine and dinghy davits roll handle. Fortunately, we managed to replace or repair most of these. The ice forecast for the coast of Alaska is very optimistic, as the sea ice is currently about 50 nm off Cape Icey(?). We continue to have nice easterly winds 20 kts (but a strange rough sea, probably due to the relatively shallow grounds here) and hope to round Point Barrow tonight, and escape from the Beaufort Sea into the Chukchi Sea heading south: towards Bering Strait ...

Fog on the Beaufort Sea

06/09/2013, Beaufort Sea,

We saw our first northern lights last night - amazingly beautiful This morning we crossed into Alaska. We hope to pass Point Barrow in 2 days.

Herschel Island
05/09/2013, Pauline Cove, Herschel Island, Yukon

Today we stopped at Herschel Island (Yukon) for a few hours. Pauline Cove used to be the biggest whaling station on the Beaufort Sea back 100-150 years ago. There were up to 500 people living here and many whaling boats from the U.S. Their spent the winter in the sheltered cove. There are only two kinds of whales in the Beaufort Sea, the beluga and the bowhead whale (also called Expired Greenland whale). They were whalers hunting bowhead for the baleens mainly used for ladies corsets. They hunted the whales almost to extinction, before fortunately corsets got out of fashion again. The friendly Royal Canadian Mounted Police showed us the whaling museum with lots of artifacts, animal bones, and tools from the local Inuvialuit and Gwich'in hunting in the area back then. A very interesting and worthwhile stop over indeed. The cherry on the icecream was of course the sauna, very nice effective long day out on the sea (followed by an obligatory jump into the seawater 4.5 C.)

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