Oh yes, we have seen quite a few bergy bits during the past 24 hours. They did not come as a surprise as Peter had warned us about these blocks of ice that are like miniature icebergs, made of thick, old ice. And, mind you, they are small only in relation to the proper icebergs! The bits were exactly where they were supposed to be, starting from Larsen Sound and continuing to Franklin Strait.
We had headwind (surprisingly!) and when tacking off the coast of Boothia Peninsula, we soon saw a lot of ice ahead of us, both bergy bits and smaller floe ice. We immediately changed our course and headed back towards the coast. Henceforth, we continued hugging the shoreline until dawn. The two good things about bergy bits are that they like to float alone without the company of other bergy bits, and that because of their size, they can be easily spotted except at night, of course. You may already have guessed when we were in the worst bergy bit area: in the middle of the night, during its darkest hours, naturally! This meant that we were both awake all night trying to see the bits that showed on the radar and the possible other bits that did not. Again, many of the bits became visible only after we had passed them but here the reason was obvious. As we were heading north, the bits in front of us were backlit and, hence, disappeared in the dark seas.
For this particular leg, we have adopted a daily routine that is quite different from what we normally have: because of the ice, both crew members stay awake from dusk till dawn. At the crack of dawn when the visibility has improved sufficiently, the more tired crew member goes to sleep, after which we have breakfast together. Then, the other crew member goes to sleep, after which we have lunch. Thereafter, we take turns in resting but the main thing is that one of us is always on watch. This continues till dinner time which is around nine, after which both of us must stay awake and keep a sharp lookout for ice. We have learned from bitter experience that when there is nobody on watch, the ice will find us. For this reason, we are determined to stick to the above routine until we are absolutely clear of these ice-infested waters!
Today, we had also another good reason for keeping a sharp lookout, but we'll tell you more about that tomorrow.