At what temperature does sea water freeze?
06 November 2013 | 64 49.7'S:063 29.8'W, Half a mile from Port Lockroy
How cold does it have to be for sea spray to freeze on a boat? We're not actually sure as our thermometer gave up the ghost around -6C and that was a good few days ago when it was still practically tropical. Frozen sea spray on all the guard wires, shrouds, lines and just about everything does make for some impressive photos, even if it does make boat maneuvers a bit time consuming, what with having to chip ice off and dig out any lines, winches, cleats you might need. It's also not so fun when the frozen sea spray is on your face, or any other part of you, for that matter. Our first experience of seawater freezing happened overnight in the Drake, about 50Nm North of Smith Island. Caution being the better part of valour we decided to hove to through the night rather than push on through to try and find shelter. Pelagic then stoically rode out a storm which saw gusts as high as 60kts. True southern ocean conditions saw gigantic waves and icy seas. The crew, now almost all over their seasickness, seemed to take it all in their stride. 36 hours later when the storm had completely abated, there was a valiant de-icing operation as we motored down the Bransfield in flat water. It felt as though we were almost there, pushing our way through broken sea ice in the Northern Gerlache. Little did we know that our epic wasn't over and we had to spend once last night battling 40kts from the southwest. Luckily skipper Dave managed to find us an ice free spot in which to shelter in the entrance to Dallmann Bay just before night fall, but with no safe anchorage the crew spent a restless night holding station in the lee of The Wiafs, taking hour long turns in the freezing cold, holding the boat steady and shining the spot light on stray bits of ice. It was a great team effort, with those not on deck at any given time making sure that those who were on deck were kept supplied with dry-ish gloves, hand warmers and cups of tea at the ready. Thankfully we caught a break for our last run in to Port Lockroy, and enjoyed clear blue skies and decreasing wind all the way. The storm had filled the bay with even more ice than normal and so we are currently tied-in about half a mile from the huts, wedged into the sea ice with two lines onto some stray (grounded) glacial ice and one onto an old whaler's chain ashore, an operation not made any easier by the sudden heavy snow flurry. It was rather magical though, Pelagic, surrounded with ice, tied onto ice, with big fat snow flakes landing all around. I think its safe to say we all slept rather well last night.