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Eshamy's Northern Passage
Trees in Hammerfest
10/03/2011, Norway

Trees again!

There is land..
10/01/2011, Near the Norwegian Coast

Well it was a long night Thursday trying to wait for the wind and keep the batteries charged, we found a little then it disappeared and we waited again. Saw two ships nearby (Silver Bergen and KV Svalbard) all lit up in the late evening which we think were large fishing boats. The night was overcast and so dark that the flashes of phosphorescence looked like numerous camera flashes, the paparazzi at a premier! Strong winds were forecast from the north for Friday and finally they came, starting off a steady breeze and increasing all afternoon. This was great as we needed some good winds to get us further south and away from 74° N which we seem to have been at forever! The sea picked up quite a lot too so we had a windy bumpy Friday but it eased later in the evening. The sky cleared for a while during the night and we saw faint auroras and the stars again. This morning has been lighter, with calm seas and variable winds which are currently blowing from the south. Was amazing to finally see land in the dawn light this morning and what is even better is that we're heading to it! Bath, clean clothes and a good night's sleep await us in Hammerfest, Norway and after 40 days at sea I think we've earned it :-)

10/05/2011 | Louise Allison
You certainly have earned it! Well done! xx
10/06/2011 | tini
Thrilled to see you leaving Hammerfest altho rain drops on the web camera didn't help then the camera stayed too long in that position and by the time it had swung around to the port exit you had been and gone--so frustrating Please locate if poss, web cams in Bergen and give us a wave--if you have time. Shops are great there K on the harbourside
We've seen the Light!
09/29/2011, Barents Sea

Well although the weather is grey and dreary I have to say the temperature is quite a lot warmer than we've experienced in a long time. Gone is the dry icy chill from the air and now it feels comparatively warm and damp. Funny to be saying it feels very warm when we're still at 74° N. According to the Eshamy thermometer the sea temperature is now approximately 8°C. I wish the clouds would disappear for a day and night though! We are now within the Norwegian 200 nm limit so to celebrate we had a feast of fried potatoes, boiled tinned vegetables and tinned salmon. This was followed by a shot of Russian vodka for something different, although alcohol seems to be dangerous at the moment with our current reduced tolerance! The wind wasn't very kind to us late Tuesday night, early Wednesday morning and we've been pushed further north again in our attempt to head west. It's a bit painful knowing we are so close to land yet so far..are we there yet? Wednesday didn't improve much and the afternoon was spent checking the batteries and fixing the furling line for the genoa which had gotten itself in a mess. The evening got better though. When I went on deck it was so dark that all I could see were the flashes of phosphorescence in the waves. After a while it seemed to get quite bright and I noticed the clouds had cleared and I could see some stars. At first I thought I was hallucinating from too long spent at sea or sleep deprivation but then I realised it was the auroras! What a sight..it was spectacular and I was treated to an impressive display and a sky full of stars (with the odd shooting star) for hours, interrupted only by the occasional patch of clouds. Out of habit I found myself looking for the Southern Cross amongst the stars then realised what I was doing..wrong hemisphere. I am very happy now I've seen the auroras (thanks for the info Dad)! It's currently Thursday afternoon and we're becalmed again so to boost crew morale we had pancakes and are now sitting here waiting for the wind. I think this is the calm before the storm as the saying goes. There are 50 or so fulmars surrounding the boat and it's so still that you can smell them!

10/01/2011 | Emily
Wow! What an amazing sight to see! Hopefully not too long before you set foot on land again. Keep warm & safe :)
Another night becalmed in the Barents Sea
09/27/2011, Arctic

Well the wind didn't improve on Saturday afternoon but had the opportunity to bake some bread which was a success. Best loaf yet! It was quickly devoured. We had some visitors at dusk as well..a large pod of dolphins which came and played around the boat and in the swell, was just great to see. After another night becalmed in the Barents Sea (what an experience!) we spent Sunday trying to find some wind. We plodded along for the day going 2-3 knots, before the wind increased a little Sunday evening and then eased again but Monday morning it picked up and stayed. So Monday we had a great day of sailing with flat seas and all the sails up, going 6-7 knots for a large part of it. Unfortunately it died again last night an hour or so after we reefed the main and took the mizzen down :-( After some drizzle, wind shifts and fog in the early hours of this morning the wind is slowly picking up again. The dolphins have visited us again twice more in the past 2 days, including at least 3 mothers with young. Was amazing to sit at the bow yesterday morning with them jumping out the water either side of me, I think they liked that we were going a bit faster! The sea is clear and a lovely deep blue colour here, so underwater the normally grey dolphins look like they are glowing light blue, especially their lighter parts. We constantly have seabirds around the boat now too and it's been interesting watching them. Saw a great skua attacking fulmars when I was on deck yesterday which wasn't really very nice to see. I hope they all got away ok.. It has been overcast for days and the skies are not so impressive anymore, will miss those incredible Arctic skies! Lost count of the days since last on land but I think it's about 37 now. Long passage indeed but not as long as some, I think there was a gentleman recently that spent over 1000 days at sea without making landfall. We've seen one boat on the AIS in the past few days but expect we'll start seeing more as we near the coast, particularly fishing boats. Not far to go now but it seems to be taking forever! I think there will be a few celebratory drinks and a lot of much needed sleep when we arrive :-) Fingers crossed we see the aurora borealis tonight...please!!

Is it the Barents Sea?
09/24/2011, Arctic

Stuck in a high pressure system with no wind going 1-2 knots at best! Looks like it might be like this for a few days which is not the best of fun after such a long and adventurous passage. But anyway it's not so cold anymore, and we still have food, water, dirty clothes and hopefully enough diesel for charging the batteries until port. It's not long till October now and for every day that we are stuck here it gets closer to winter, so the weather might not be so great when we finally get further south. But it's a beautiful dawn over the glassy sea and the clanging of the boom, sails and associated blocks makes for a nice dawn chorus. Well perhaps not! Currently going 1 knot at 233° which is better than nothing? We had a real treat last night, the wind picked up for an hour or two from the east and we got up to 6.7 knots at one stage which was exciting. Was very depressing when the wind disappeared though, being becalmed can be rather trying and painful! Let's hope the next blog tells of more wind (but not too much wind!). Thanks again for all your messages, still a while yet till we are in port and can phone and check emails properly. Looking forward to it! Will post a selection of pictures from the past month then, they're mostly of the sky and sea though :-) Tried to post some the other day but the connection is too poor. Quite curious about what is happening with the ice and the refreeze behind us, hoping they keep good archives of the ice data so we can look again at the past few months once we're back on land. Hope you're all still able to keep track of our position via the SPOT ok, it was a little intermittent for a while due to poor satellite reception.

Bird Life Aplenty
09/22/2011, Arctic

Well the wind decided to ease later on Wednesday and we had a day of tedious sailing, trying our hardest to get what speed we could out of the dying wind. With as much sail up as possible we were going only 2-3 knots all afternoon not really in the right direction either, but at least it was progress (the hot bath, clean clothes and drinks still seem so far away)! The birds seemed to like it though and we have been visited by large flocks of gulls which have hung around the boat for some time. We are seeing fulmars again and the odd guillemot too, as well as skuas. Even saw a jellyfish which was exciting, and this afternoon saw some flashes of silver on the water which I'm sure were fish. There is life at sea again after seeing very little for such a long time :-) Cake unfortunately wasn't a success, the bananas are not the mashing kind but only discovered that after mixing all the other ingredients together! It turned into a carrot and raisin cake but not the worlds tastiest. Saw a big ship last night and actually spotted its lights by eye well before the AIS picked it up (~12 nm away). The sky has been impressive, large clouds and amazing light with the occasional rainbow. That is one thing about the Arctic the skies are incredible! Currently reading 'The Ice Master: The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk' by Jennifer Niven and am very glad I didn't read this book a few months ago as I think it might have put me off this journey! They were very very different conditions that year to what we've encountered though. Must read more books on Arctic exploration, those early polar explorers were extremely brave.

09/22/2011 | Doug
Please add your position (Lat/Long) to your posts so we can see where you are at.
Thanks,
Doug
09/24/2011 | Doug
Now I understand why no L/L and I'll be cheering in a few days when you make the announcement - CONGRATULATIONS!!!

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Eshamy's Northern Passage
Who: Jeffrey Allison, Katherine Brownlie, Alex Taylor, James Allison, Paul Brossier, Martin Oakley, Chris Phillips, Tanya Hargreaves, Philip Schofield (Onshore Communications Officer)
Port: Hartlepool
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