71º19.49' N, 158º24.74´ W
As of today, an addition has been made to the already existing range of colours that surround us. The palette now consists of Grey, Grey, Grey, and Turquoise, the colours referring to the sky, the sea, the land, and the ice, respectively. Yes, this morning we saw ice for the very first time; there were huge blocks of floe ice all around us as we negotiated our way towards Barrow. They were not gigantic (although, I think the Americans still call them icebergs) but big enough to be of concern. Consequently, a 24-hour Ice Watch has now come into effect on board Sarema.
The weather forecast was another thing giving cause for concern as we neared Barrow. There was a low pressure area approaching us from south-west with 35 to 40 knot winds. Now, the direction of the wind was good because it would probably sweep the ice off the coast but, of course, its strength was something to worry about.
The Chukchi Sea is very shallow with less than 20 meter depths around Point Barrow. After Barrow, there was a large area of fast ice which, as far as we knew, was still attached to the shore blocking our way to Tuktoyaktuk. Since Barrow does not have a harbour, and the lagoon in front of the town has an average depth of about two meters, we were left with very few alternatives. After carefully considering our predicament, we decided to make a U-turn and head for the open sea. At a distance of about 30 miles from the shore, we hove to hopefully far enough from the pack ice lying north of us to allow Sarema drift with the predicted winds. At the moment, we are staying put and waiting for the approaching gale!