keskiviikko 29. syyskuuta 2010

September 29th 2010

Port Saunders

50º38.74' N, 57º16.45' W

We left Red Bay in the evening of the 26th and started off for Port Saunders on tranquil, moonlit seas. As the night wore on, the wind started picking up and soon, we were once more beating against 35 knot headwinds, gusting to 50, and oncoming seas, eventually building up to three to five metres. We arrived at the Port Saunders fishing harbour the next day dripping wet and tired. Part of the small harbour is under construction but fortunately they managed to fit us in. We were given a place alongside a fishing vessel which is alongside another fishing vessel which is alongside a wharf.

Again, taking Latte for a walk is a little problematic. The very first time Pekka and Latte went ashore, Latte miscalculated the distance between the second fishing vessel and the wharf and, as a result, she fell into the water. Pekka managed to lift her up quickly but, understandably, the poor thing was a little shaken afterwards. The good thing about this incident is that she is now more careful and has a little more patience when climbing over the railings.

Today is the 29th of September but, to be quite honest, neither the weather nor the venue is quite what we had hoped for. Although the gale-force winds have died down for the time being, the skies are overcast and it has been pouring for the past two days. But, if we look at the bright side, there are showers, a washing machine and a dryer in the harbour master's building next door, and three grocery stores, a library, a liquor store, a bank, a post office, and a hairdresser's, all within walking distance from the harbour. The last time we had all these luxuries close by was in Nome, about two months ago. So, all things considered, now it's time to do the laundry, install a new hydraulic pump, and go to the hairdresser's. But, as for the birthday party, that has been postponed until further notice.

September 26th 2010

Nearly Visiting Cook's Harbour

We made our next landfall neither in Cook's Harbour nor in Newfoundland for that matter. As we approached the entrance of Cook's Harbour, C-map showed us heading straight in the direction of a nearby island which meant an error of more than half a nautical mile. This time correcting the datum error made no difference, there was something seriously amiss. Ahead of us was a narrow passage unknown to us, heavily breaking waters, and we had no electronic chart to guide us through. The buoys marking the passage into the harbour were covered with welter of foam and the wind was picking up. It was clearly too risky to try to find our way into the harbour. This time, Pekka had enough common sense to agree with me, and we continued our passage to the next conceivable port which was, unfortunately, on Labrador's side of the Strait of the Belle Island. It was called Red Bay, and it was a place to remember!

Our Friend The Beluga

51º42.82' N, 56º26.62' W

What should you do when a beluga wants to be friends with you? This was the problem we were faced with while anchored in Red Bay, Labrador. We arrived in the little bay late Saturday evening in total darkness and did not discover until the following morning that we shared it with a lone beluga. We felt a little apprehensive it being alone as we knew that belugas are sociable creatures who are usually in parties of five to ten individuals.

The beluga had, on his back, well healed but distinctive marks made by a propeller which could be the reason why the pod had been forced to leave him behind. As far as we could judge, he was a young beluga but not a calf, and we thought he seemed healthy and active enough although we are no beluga experts. He kept diving close to Sarema for the better part of the morning feeding on something he found at the sea bottom.

After a while, he seemed to acknowledge our presence and circled the boat every once and a while. But it was not until Pekka lowered our light grey dinghy from the davits that the beluga knew that he had found a true friend. After that, the beluga and we were inseparable. When we went ashore, the beluga came along swimming directly underneath the outboard propeller so that we eventually had to turn it off as we were afraid that he would hurt himself. Now, the only way to proceed was rowing but that too was difficult as the friendly beluga was constantly in the way of the oars. Finally, we had to resort to cunning. As the beluga was swimming around the dinghy, we kept our eye on him and when he was at a distance of about ten metres from us, Pekka quickly turned on the outboard motor, and off we went. We could see the beluga raise his head in astonishment and dash after us but we were too fast for him. He didn't reach us until we had to slow down near the shore due to possible rocks, and again we had to start rowing as he came so close to the outboard motor. When the water became too shallow for the beluga, he finally turned around and swam away.

When heading back to the boat, we carefully monitored the bay in order to spot the beluga, and when we saw where he was, we started off in the opposite direction in order to avoid him, and made a large circle to reach the boat. But, in about fifteen seconds, the beluga appeared by the side of the dinghy, and seemed to be more than happy to be reunited with us.

When it was time to continue our journey, the beluga came to help us weigh the anchor, after which he escorted us to the mouth of the bay. We were a little anxious about the possibility that he would follow us out to the sea but, after a while, we couldn't see him anymore. This was a relief although, at the same time, we felt bad about leaving this friendly and curious whale behind. He is undoubtedly a very exceptional beluga, and we feel honoured to have made his acquaintance.

sunnuntai 26. syyskuuta 2010

September 24th 2010

In the Wake of Igor

After Hurricane Igor, it has taken far longer than we would have thought for even the weather to get back to normal. In our protected Fox Harbour, twenty to forty knot winds have persisted for the best part of the week, and the seas outside are steep and breaking. In Newfoundland, numerous communities are still isolated as roads and bridges were washed out, and tens of thousands of households are without electricity and water. According to statistics, this was the worst natural disaster to hit Newfoundland in modern times.

For us personally, the only thing that Igor managed to ruin was our schedule. We had hoped to be in Halifax by the end of September, actually before the 29th so as to be able to celebrate Riitta's 60th birthday ashore in a manner appropriate for an elderly lady. But as things stand at the moment, we'll just have to make do with the second best alternative which is to find a spectacular (and safe) anchorage somewhere on the coast of Newfoundland, and to enjoy a festive meal of snow-crab, courtesy of a St. Lewis fisherman, accompanied by champagne, naturally. As the worst-case scenario was that we would still be somewhere in Baffin Bay amidst icebergs, that doesn't sound too bad, does it?

keskiviikko 22. syyskuuta 2010

September 22nd 2010

St. Lewis

As the day grew older, the wind continued rising and, later in the afternoon, it started to rain. The barometer reading dropped to 980 mbars, and the wind speed varied between 35 to 55 knots throughout the night. In our little bay, the waves soon developed a foam crown and began beating against Sarema's side. Eventually, the wind and the waves formed a united front constantly tilting the boat so that it was impossible to keep anything on the tables. Our night was restless with very little sleep as we listened to the sounds of the storm and were every now and again awoken by a violent movement of the boat.

As we woke up this morning, we saw that Igor had swept the sky absolutely clean leaving not a single cloud on its surface. It is a beautiful, sunny day, and although the wind is still blowing, it is clear that Igor has gone its way, and that the weather will soon be back to normal.
We will stay in St. Lewis for a few more days waiting for the seas to smooth down a bit before continuing to Newfoundland where we should make our first landfall in Cook's Harbour.

September 21st 2010

Escaping Hurricane Igor

52º21,89' N, 55º40,85' W

There is a limit to what you can write in real time on a blog that your family members are also reading. With this we are, of course, referring to Hurricane Igor!
We were sailing near the coast of Labrador when we got the news about the approaching hurricane. We didn't have a lot of time, more or less 24 hours in fact, to seek refuge and get out of its way. Luckily, at the time, we were close enough to Fox Harbour alias St. Lewis, located at the south-east corner of Labrador, to find shelter in its fishing harbour.
We arrived here yesterday afternoon and had plenty of time to prepare Sarema for the possible hurricane force winds before nightfall. This was not the first time we had prepared our boat for a hurricane, so we were familiar with the procedure and knew exactly what to do. We tied Sarema properly to the wharf, wrapped up her sails, and removed all loose items from the deck. When everything was done, we went inside, enjoyed a scrumptious supper and went to sleep.
At the moment, we are having breakfast and listening to St. Johns' radio station describing how Hurricane Igor is devastating most of Newfoundland, just around the corner from us, with heavy rain and winds exceeding 160 km/h, causing flooding, destroying buildings, and washing out roads and bridges.

In a way, we have been exceptionally lucky with the weather. Although we have had more than our fair share of headwinds, so far, we have managed to avoid extreme weather conditions. The first time was in St. Paul, the Pribilof Islands, when almost a week-long gale started the same evening we arrived there; after that, in Nome, Alaska, a storm broke out on the Bering Sea a day after our arrival; and now, Hurricane Igor. So, you can imagine how extremely happy we are to be here, in the protected harbour of St. Lewis, all safe and sound.
But, apparently, this is not yet the end of the story as we can hear and feel the wind picking up. And, according to the latest news, Hurricane Igor is leaving the devastated island of Newfoundland behind it, and is heading for east Labrador!

maanantai 20. syyskuuta 2010

September 19th 2010

Labrador Sea

53º49' N, 55º47' W

We are happy to report that all is well aboard Sarema. Our progress has been slower than expected and hoped for, but it is something we have come to accept by now. The winds, swell, and the Labrador Current just seem to be incapable of co-operating with each other which is quite a nuisance but the circumstances could be far worse. We haven't had a single storm yet! and, the other day, we managed to escape a gale by coming closer to the Labrador coast. So, although our current life at sea is by no means a breeze, we have every reason to be content.
Manual steering has not presented a problem as we soon discovered that the best system for us is two-hour shifts at the helm night and day, as necessary. The time may sound a bit short but with her long keel and four and a half metre beam, Sarema is not the easiest of boats to steer, especially in these troubled waters. When at the helm, our daily routine is thus two hours of steering and two hours of sleeping plus eating, times six. Actually, it is exactly as monotonous and tiring as it sounds but the main thing is that it works. But, thank god, there are also days when the winds are steady and the sails are trimmed just right, and Sarema flies across the seas by herself without a helmsman!

Now that we have come further south, there are more and more seabirds entertaining us; black-legged kittywakes, storm-petrels, northern fulmars, skuas, auklets, puffins, etc. We have also seen whales almost on a daily basis. And, yesterday, it was Open House all day; first came the whales, then the porpoises and, later in the afternoon, the dolphins. It was absolutely wonderful! Of course, being stuck with the helm, you can't rush to the bow to see them play, and there is no way you can take photographs which is a real pity (the one above was taken in Baffin Bay). But, as always, you can't have it all!

torstai 16. syyskuuta 2010

September 16th 2010

At the Helm

58º 46' N, 55º 43' W

It appears that s/y Sarema is the very first Finnish vessel to navigate the Northwest Passage and consequently, our odyssey has got some media coverage back in Finland. There was a minor mistake in the piece of news published by STT (Finnish News Agency) that we would very much like to be true. It said that it had taken us about four months to sail the 11,000 kilometres from Alaska to Canada (Halifax) which, in fact, gives the impression that we are already in Halifax. Oh, if only we were!
Instead, we are still at sea beating against winds, swell, and oncoming seas. We hove to again the other day as the about three-meter seas and the more than 30 knot headwinds seemed to be a bit too much for our little hydraulic pump that controls the steering. The next morning when the seas had smoothed down a bit, we continued our journey in the only direction the winds allowed us to proceed without difficulty, i.e. towards Ireland which undoubtedly is an attractive destination but....

After about 24 hours, however, we were able to lay a somewhat better course to Belle Strait after which we eventually hope to find a little less troubled seas. Since the heaving to, we have had no problems caused by the hydraulic pump but, what we are left with are the problems caused by not having a hydraulic pump at all, which again has resulted in that we don't have a functioning autopilot anymore, either. So, here we are, two tired sailors in the middle of the Labrador Sea with more or less 1,000 miles to go, and the only means to get out of here seems to be manual steering. We are sure we'll have a good laugh about all this someday, maybe around the year 2050!

keskiviikko 15. syyskuuta 2010

September 16th 2010

Making Waves
(Excerpts from two articles in the Nunavut News/North)

Marine Wildlife and Inuit Culture Versus Exploration of Oil and Gas
Resources in the High Arctic

Despite the outcry over the granting of a licence for seismic testing to map potential oil and gas resources in Lancaster Sound, Jones Sound and northern Baffin Bay, few believed anything could be done to stop it. It was even speculated that the only way to stop the testing – a type of testing Inuit said had disrupted whale calving and migration routes in the past – would be to go out in a boat and engage in some sort of Greenpeace guerrilla-style protest.
The ship with the seismic testing equipment on board had already reached the High Arctic and with the following Monday morning being the start day, the case was brought in front of Justice Sue Cooper, Nunavut Court of Justice, by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association on Thursday and Friday.
Sue Cooper handed down her decision Sunday afternoon. Despite the conclusion of the project's environmental impact statement that the seismic testing would have little or no effect on marine mammals, the report itself contained protocols on how to minimize the effects on wildlife. The fact that such protocols exist, Sue Cooper dryly pointed out, imply seismic tests do indeed have effects on marine mammals.
Hunting whales, seal and other marine mammals is part of Inuit livelihood, and an integral part of their culture which Cooper recognized and stated that should the seismic testing disrupt the animals' habits, Inuit would lose a source of food and part of their culture and thus suffer irreparable harm. On the other hand, she concluded the loss suffered by the seismic testing project's proponents... would only be financial.
With Justice Sue Cooper's small 13-page document as a slingshot, Inuit have taken down the Goliath of the Government (Natural Resources Canada).
This means that the Eastern Canadian Arctic Seismic Experiment scheduled to start in the High Arctic is now on hold indefinitely.

We thank you for your wise decision, Sue Cooper!

P.S. The ship RV Polarstern is doing seismic testing now in Greenlandic waters.

tiistai 14. syyskuuta 2010

September 13th 2010

Endless Days

The pump is finally working!!! The malfunction had something to do with carbon brushes, but it has now been fixed. Although the pump is repaired only temporarily, Pekka is so confident that it will take us all the way to Halifax (I do hope he's right!) that he has given up wearing the headlight, thank god!

In order to make the overall distance to Halifax seem shorter, about a week ago, I started practising a special kind of self-deception by dividing the remaining 1,600 nautical miles into parts: Only 190 miles to Nuuk!, No more than 250 miles to Iqaluit!, Just over 600 miles left to Saint Anthony!, etc. Even though we have no intention of visiting any of these places, the mere knowledge that they are within easy reach (relatively speaking, of course) has helped me cope with the seemingly endless days of this last leg. But, actually, it is a real pity that I feel this way as I know from past experience that after only a few days amidst the hustle and bustle of a city, I'll again long for the simplicity and solitude of our life at sea.

maanantai 13. syyskuuta 2010

September 12th 2010

Hammering Ahead

63º03' N, 58º28' W

At the moment, Sarema is limping towards Nova Scotia due to the combination of 25 knot winds, approximately two meter swell and the Labrador Current, all coming from different directions. It is as if we were in a bowl of soup which somebody is constantly stirring. And the fact that our hydraulic pump is now in a continuous on-off mode does not help the situation any!
As I told you before, we have had major problems with the hydraulic pump that controls our autopilot. Our main pump broke before Cambridge Bay and we had to install a spare pump that is not working properly either. Pekka has tried to fix it but so far with little success. The best method to revive the pump we have come up with is, believe it or not, to hit it with a hammer! Every time the pump stops, which is almost every half an hour or so, Pekka dives into the aft cabin, opens the hatch and hits the pump with a hammer. He has to be extremely quick about it because Sarema starts to turn in the wrong direction immediately when there is no steering. In order to see the pump in the dark, Pekka is nowadays wearing a headlight night and day, and the hammer is also nearby at all times. Poor Pekka, besides looking absolutely ridiculous with the headlight on, in the present state of affairs, his good looks are also beginning to suffer from lack of sleep!

Except for the continuous pump revival episodes, the past several days have been rather dull. But, fortunately, the nights have not! We are sailing so far out at sea that during the day, the only things we see are the sky, the sea and an occasional seabird. But as the light of the day fades and night begins to fall, it is as if we entered another world altogether with billion stars twinkling above us, and Aurora Borealis glowing in the northern sky. It just takes your breath away!
Despite the magic of the star-lit nights, we are anxiously waiting for our arrival in Halifax. The other day when we were talking about it, we realized that we are actually returning to Halifax as we visited the city already in 2005. This again means that we have sailed around the Americas, i.e. North and Central Americas. The circumnavigation has taken a total of five years due to the three unforgettable summers spent in Alaska. So it has been quite a long tour but we have been in no hurry, until now!

sunnuntai 12. syyskuuta 2010

September 11th 2010

Davis Strait

Now that we have done it, I have to tell you how impressed I am with the way Pekka had prepared Sarema and her crew to meet the various challenges presented by the Northwest Passage. Sarema sailed through the Passage with flying colours, her crew were warm and comfortable most of the time, had plenty of good food, and all the necessary materials and spare parts required along the way.

The only thing that has caused us major problems (in addition to ice, fog, and wind, of course!) is the hydraulic pump controlling the autopilot. We began the voyage with two pumps; the one that we had already been using for the last couple of years and was still supposed to be in excellent working condition, and an older, smaller pump as a spare. The bigger pump broke in the middle of the Passage, and we have ended up struggling with the spare pump that took us all the way to Baffin Bay but, thenceforth, has functioned with great difficulty. Maybe this is just bad luck but, you never know, maybe it too suffers from post-passage disorder!

perjantai 10. syyskuuta 2010

September 10th 2010

We Made It!

66º 30.00’ N, 60º 16.48’ W

Today, S/Y Sarema crossed the Arctic Circle for the second time during her voyage from Seward to Halifax. This means that we have finally put the fabled Northwest Passage behind us. The distance between the two crossings amounted to 3,547.9 nautical miles, and it took us a total of 44.5 sometimes endless days to navigate it. Although we still have about 1,600 nautical miles to go before we arrive in Halifax, this calls for a celebration. Pekka, the Master of Ceremonies, is about to open the bottle of champagne now so...

Cheers, everybody!

September 9th 2010

Davis Strait

68º11' N, 61º53' W

We spent the night safely tucked aboard Sarema while the wind was howling around us and the sharp waves kept banging against the boat. Since we were drifting, we were a little concerned about the possibility of hitting an iceberg and, therefore, one of us was on watch all through the night. By early morning, the wind had dropped enough so that, even though the seas were still high, we could continue our interrupted journey.

At the moment, we are making good progress and will reach the latitude of 66 degrees 33 minutes north, i.e. the Arctic Circle, sometime tomorrow. This will mark the end of the Northwest Passage for us. Pekka, who is in charge of the festivities, has already put a bottle of champagne to cool!

keskiviikko 8. syyskuuta 2010

September 8th 2010

It's Blowing!

68º 44' N, 62º 40' W

The day started with 15 knot winds from the west. Soon, the wind began to shift more to the north as predicted and gradually, also gain more speed. By noon, it blew exactly from the direction forecast, namely from the north-west. But, this time, it was the speed that was wrong!
We enjoyed sailing and made excellent progress with 20 - 25 knot winds, started reducing sails with 30 knot winds, reduced even more with 40 knot winds, but when the anemometer showed 51.4 knots, we didn't think it was fun any more. We have now been heaving to for the past seven hours, and it is still blowing 35 knots outside. It seems that we'll spend the night here and continue tomorrow, hopefully under better circumstances.

September 8th 2010

Post-passage Disorder
69º59' N, 64º56' W

After analysing our present state of mind, we have come to the conclusion that we are suffering from post-passage disorder! Post-passage in the sense that, although, technically speaking, we are still in the Northwest Passage, in reality, the Passage with all its challenges begins or ends, depending which way your are going, at Lancaster Sound.
After all the excitement, anxiety, stress, and frustration we have experienced, since Lancaster Sound, it has been, I wouldn't like to use the word but here it is, BORING!

It may be that this state of boredom is about to end soon as the weather forecast for today is 35 knots from the north-west. This would give us a real boost south provided, of course, that the direction of the wind is forecast correctly. It has frequently happened that the wind speed is correct but its direction is not. But we are mentally prepared also for the worst-case scenario, which is 35 knots on the nose. After all, we are sailing aboard the Sarema alias the Headwind!

September 7th 2010

C´e nebbia e il vento ha cambiato direzione.

As you can see, we have taken up Italian! The reason for this is that we needed something to take our minds off the approximately 1,800 nautical miles we still have ahead of us, and every sailor's favourite subject, the weather.
We have spent the last few days hoping for the fog to lift and the wind to blow from the right direction but, alas, both in vain. For the third consecutive day, dense fog keeps hanging over the coast of Baffin Island, and we have now lost all hope of seeing another polar bear. But the more important aspect of the weather is, of course, the wind.
Instead of coming from the north as forecast, it is presently blowing from the south-east, making our lives miserable. At the moment, it feels that we are making such slow progress that we'll probably be speaking fluent Italian by the time we reach Halifax. Ciao!

maanantai 6. syyskuuta 2010

September 5th 2010

Baffin Bay

72º024.89´ N, 73º34.62´ W

Since the refuelling on the day of our arrival did not leave much time for anything else, we ended up staying in Pond Inlet for two days and two nights. On our second day, Pekka changed the engine oil and filters, and Riitta walked up to the Inns North Hotel and spent several hours uploading photos. At these latitudes, the signal strength is normally so weak that it takes ages to upload a single photo. And, for some unknown reason, there are always photos that simply refuse to be uploaded.
In the afternoon, we walked around the hamlet which didn't take very long. By far the most interesting place in Pond Inlet was the Rebecca P. Idlout Library. In addition to the library itself, it houses a permanent exhibition of Inuit history, artefacts, clothing, etc. As in so many libraries before, we made great discoveries also here in their Books for Sale Section (1 dollar each); five novels plus Doonesbury Deluxe and Madame Benoit's World of Food that includes some interesting Finnish dishes. Although, one of her recipes begins with “Like so many of the Finnish dishes this one may sound odd but,... “, we decided to forgive Madame Benoit and, someday, try at least the extremely exotic sounding Finnish Jellied Beef Tongue. However, the jewel of our findings was, without a doubt, a photo book titled Florence; History, Art, Folklore, with the city map tucked between its pages, and that too only for one dollar!

The librarian told us that the natives in Pond Inlet speak Inuktitut but a different dialect from Inuktitut spoken, for example, in Gjoa Haven or Cambridge Bay. Which reminded us of your homework! The blue sign, photographed in Gjoa Haven, is indeed in Inuktitut, and it says 'Nunavut Ladies' Group'. To give you a few more words, this time in Iñupiaq, that may come in handy on your future travels in the Arctic, to those who got it right, we say “Aarigaa!”, which expresses our satisfaction, and to the rest of you, “Arii!”, which means the exact opposite.
We weighed anchor early Sunday morning and headed for Baffin Bay. Due to the fog that seemed to have engulfed the whole Baffin Island, combined with the at least two dozen icebergs and numerous growlers that lined its shores, we decided to go further off the coast and stay at a distance of about five miles from it. We also decided to reduce our speed during the darkest hours of the night so as to diminish the impact of a possible collision with ice. Naturally, this slows down our progress a little but, as always, safety comes first.
If the fog has lifted by tomorrow morning, we'll sail closer to the
shore and continue our favourite pastime, namely Polar Bear Spotting!

lauantai 4. syyskuuta 2010

September 3rd 2010

Pond Inlet

72º41.77' N, 77º59.29' W

We left Port Leopold in the evening motoring in a dense fog that persisted till early morning. When the curtain of fog finally lifted, it revealed the majestic cliffs of the Borden Peninsula, the different geological layers exposed by erosion. Between the cliffs were deep valleys as brown as the rest of the landscape, with only occasional, sad remains of the once existed glaciers.

We continued motor-sailing for the next one and a half days. It was a thoroughly enjoyable leg with gorgeous views and icebergs, the sun shining and the much disliked fog keeping its distance. We could see it lurking behind Sarema but, this time, it never caught us. We also had fair winds and following seas, which we had not had since … we couldn't even remember when.

As we turned from Lancaster Sound into Navy Board Inlet, we passed Tay Bay where Alvah Simon, his wife Diana and their cat Halifax wintered ice-locked aboard their 36-foot yacht Roger Henry. Alvah tells the story in his book North to the Night, which we think is a book worth reading.

The following afternoon, we dropped anchor in front of the tiny hamlet of Pond Inlet. Our only reason for coming here was to get fuel, and that was what we did. Since Pond Inlet does not have a jetty, we had to order a fuel truck to the beach. There, we filled our jerry cans, seven at a time, dinghied the cans to the boat, emptied them into the fuel tank, then dinghied back to the beach with the empty jerry cans and so on. It took us four rounds to get a total of 607,1 litres of diesel, and we are now ready to leave tomorrow for perhaps the final leg of our ongoing voyage.

torstai 2. syyskuuta 2010

September 1st 2010

Port Leopold

73º51.994' N, 90º18.303' W

As you can see from the previous blog entry, we were absolutely exhausted and extremely frustrated after several days of tacking through foggy Peel Sound and negotiating the ice in Barrow Strait. But, after a good night's sleep in Port Leopold, things are now back to normal. So much so that, one day, we may even sail to the Antarctic!

Instead of going to Erebus Bay as originally planned, we came to Port Leopold, on the north-eastern corner of Somerset Island, because of the ice in Barrow Strait. Here, Riitta (the weaker negotiator!) had a unique opportunity to admire the view from the mast top as she went up to fetch down the top lift with a broken shackle. Our next, compulsory stop will be Pond Inlet where we will get fuel and hopefully fresh vegetables before continuing our voyage towards Baffin Bay.

August 31st 2010

Barrow Strait

74º03' N, 91º00' W

As we turned around the corner of Somerset Island and arrived in Barrow Strait, there was more and more ice floating around us. For some reason, we had thought that we had seen the last of it coming through Peel Sound. You can therefore imagine how dismayed we were to see ahead of us, a narrow but continuous belt of ice that seemed to stretch from the shore straight across the Strait. It was a nightmarish feeling as if the ice that we thought we had left behind, had come to haunt us.
At first, we just could not see a way through it. We then carefully motored closer to the shore and finally found an opening through the ice belt. Henceforth, the sea was practically ice-free until we saw a second ice belt rising from behind the horizon! There were three ice barriers like this one after another after which the ice seemed to vanish. So, if it is true as it now seems that the pack ice is behind us, the floe ice is behind us, and most of the bergy bits are behind us, all we can say is, “GOOD RIDDANCE!!”

We now know that, despite its unquestionable beauty, ice is a truly frightening element and, unlike the polar regions, it is something we can definitely do without. So, for future reference, if we ever again come up with one of those great ideas like “Hey, why don't we sail to the Antarctic!”, we hereby authorise our children to lock us up!