Tokimata's Travels

Vessel Name: Tokimata
Vessel Make/Model: Ganley S130 steel cutter
Hailing Port: Coromandel, New Zealand
Crew: Peter, Rachel, Danny and Tom Garden
27 June 2013 | South east Greenland
10 June 2013 | Narsarsuaq, Greenland
01 June 2013 | Nuuk Greenland
14 October 2012 | Disko Bay to Nuuk.
11 September 2012 | Aasiaat Greenland
01 September 2012 | Tay Bay
22 August 2012 | Franklin Strait
20 August 2012 | Icebreaker Channel
16 August 2012 | Victoria Island
11 August 2012 | Apporaching Tuktoyaktuk
10 August 2012 | Tuktoyaktuk
05 August 2012 | Just past Prudoe Bay
03 August 2012 | 60 miles SW Pt Barrow
01 August 2012 | Chukchi Sea
26 July 2012 | Nome, Alaska
23 July 2012 | Nome, Alaska
17 July 2012 | Nome, Alaska
04 July 2012
Recent Blog Posts
27 June 2013 | South east Greenland

The green of Greenland

We spent several days in the sheep farming area of Greenland, long fjords up to the mainland scattered with Norse ruins.

10 June 2013 | Narsarsuaq, Greenland

Nuuk to Narsarsuarq

We left Nuuk in snow flurries and deep cold. On Monday 3rd June Pete got the latest weather using wifi at the Seaman's home in Nuuk then we headed to the fuel dock and left at 1.00 pm in 20 knots, slight seas and snow. We took the inside route to Faeringhavn, one of many abandoned settlements here, left [...]

01 June 2013 | Nuuk Greenland

Ready to leave Nuuk

Its now nearly 8 months since we left Tokimata tied up in Nuuk Harbour to brave the winter storms. We were pretty nervous with the prospect of being rafted up to several fishing and tour boats in the commercial harbour - comings and goings of boats all winter pushing ice around, with heavy snow and [...]

14 October 2012 | Disko Bay to Nuuk.

Greenland's majestic west coast.

With our arrival in Aasiaat on 8th September the issue of where to leave Tokimata for the coming winter loomed. The options were either to hurry onwards, perhaps to the UK or down to the Azores - both trips of around 10 to 14 days from Aasiaat, or to stay in Greenland. Looking at the weather files for [...]

11 September 2012 | Aasiaat Greenland

The last leg

Our sail into Tay Bay in 40 knots in the middle of the night was our first taste of the much more variable weather we were to encounter on this last section of Northwest Passage. Up until now we have had pretty much favourable winds all the way from Point Barrow in Alaska. A scientist in Tuktoyaktuk [...]

01 September 2012 | Tay Bay

The bear who came to dinner

From our overnight anchorage at False Strait Bay - a tiny cove with barely enough room to turn the boat around, we went through the 15 miles of Bellot strait to Fort Ross, a lonely bay with two wooden buildings ashore, the old Victorian wooden house semi-derelict but with the remains of posh wooden [...]

Sailing boat vs polar bear - who gives way?

05 August 2012 | Just past Prudoe Bay
Rachel was on watch 4 hours ago, constantly dodging big pieces of ice and keeping just off the low sandy islands along shore when a huge polar bear swam across Tokimata's path. He looked at the boat but couldn't care less and just keep on swimming right in front just a few metres away - a quick 30 degree dodge with the autopilot got round him but it is clear that sailboats give way to bears up here. That was the fourth polar bear we've seen today. Three others were on Cross Island, one of the sandy barrier islands barely a metre above sea level that run all along this part of the coast. They were wandering along the shore amidst a huge pile of wale bones and two small huts. By the look of their dirty chests they had possibly been feasting on a whale carcass on shore.

For the last 12 hours or so we have been quite close in shore - just 200 metres off the barrier islands at times - skirting inside of a huge area of pack ice. The ice chart showed it as running 60 miles along the coast and 20 miles out just east of Prudoe Bay - a big chunk of slightly rotten pack ice. Although it is clearly in the process of melting and quite rotten, we can't go through it. It has been an amazing ride with brilliant sailing - 15 knots on a beam reach - perfect for manoeuvring in the 2/10th ice cover near shore - and now brilliant sunshine and 15 deg C outside.

We came past Barrow at 11am on Friday with a good NE breeze whizzing us along as we passed the Coast Guard cutter Sycamore anchored off the town and checked in with the Barrow Comms Centre. Given that the ice was due to close in Friday night, blocking the route around Barrow, all four boats had elected to keep going and not stop at Elson Lagoon just past Point Barrow. Upchuck was nearly 12 hours ahead - motoring full on, Sol and ourselves passed Barrow together, with Tranquilo a few miles back. The pack ice was visible off Barrow and also once round the point there was a scattering of ice to be avoided.

Barrow is the furthest north part of the USA and our heading is now slightly south of east as we sail down the Alaskan coast towards the border with Canada, some 350 miles away. We had a great days sailing under spinnaker with a 10 knot SW wind. By the end of the day the wind had died and we had to motor for a few hours - plodding along at 4.5 knots and 1200 rpm to minimize diesel usage. Loads of seals popped their heads out to check us over and we have seen the odd one basking on the ice flows.

By Saturday afternoon we were approaching the Prudoe Bay oil terminal area. For about 50 miles along the coast before and after the bay there were lights, buildings, abandoned oil rigs, platforms and a huge lit up oil terminal on an artificial island in the bay itself. We were about 20 miles out from the head of the bay but the mirage-like affect you get in the arctic of making things seem closer lifted in the buildings and rigs above the horizon making them seem quite close.

The charts are not too accurate in this area - most of the surveys are years old, and at places close to the barrier islands our chart plotter showed us sailing over the top of the islands. But fortunately the sea bottom seems to be quite regular and it is easy to follow a depth contour along the shore when close in to the islands - sometimes we were down to 3 metres of water - 1 metre under the keel. It would be possible to get in behind quite a few of these island and anchor up for a rest and get shelter from any waves, but for us it is flat calm and tranquil with just enough breeze to keep us moving now. We plan to stop at Demarcation Bay, just before Demarcation Point which marks the border. Tom and Danny are keen to try a bit of fishing in the small rivers in the area and replenish our supplies - we have just about finished the 10kg of salmon they caught in the Nome River. The flat islands have plenty of drift wood on them despite no trees for hundreds of miles. This will have come down the huge McKenzie RIver from the heart of Canada. The river is still 300 miles away but it disgorges timber that is found all over the arctic.

This is certainly a magic place and seeing it with pack ice so close to shore, and therefore polar bears and seals making use of it is a real privilege - one that may not be around for long at the rate the arctic is melting.
Tokimata's Photos - Main
Cruising the coast south from Nuuk to Qaqortok - June 2013
15 Photos
Created 13 June 2013
Tokimata stayed in the water in Nuuk harbour through the winter.
6 Photos
Created 3 June 2013
Disko Bay and south to Nuuk
25 Photos
Created 14 October 2012
20 Photos
Created 11 September 2012
24 Photos
Created 10 September 2012
Along the coast of northern Canada, to Herschel Island, Tuktoyaktuk, Victoria Island and Cambridge Bay.
29 Photos
Created 18 August 2012
22 Photos
Created 18 August 2012
More waiting but lots to do.
10 Photos
Created 26 July 2012
10 Photos
Created 23 July 2012
Nome is the last stop before passing through Bering Strait and into the Arctic proper and NW Passage. Gold was first discovered here in the late 1800's and continues today with up to 50 2-man suction dredges operating in the offshore waters within a few miles of the town.
19 Photos
Created 17 July 2012
From False Pass into the Bering Sea, north to Nunivak Island and Etolin Strait and across Norton Sound to Nome.
13 Photos
Created 17 July 2012
From Kodiak Island across to the mainland and 500 miles south down the Alaska Peninsula to False Pass.
18 Photos
Created 17 July 2012
Starting in Hoonah on 21st May we arrived in Kodiak on 15th June after a week in Glacier Bay and a weeks of boat provisioning and preparation in Sitka.
15 Photos
Created 17 July 2012

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