A Tough Decision
21 August 2018 | Dundas Harbour to Brodeur Peninsula
Our North West Passage attempt is over, we all reached this decision this morning at just gone midnight a few miles short of Brodeur Peninsula, at the entrance to Prince Regent Inlet. We are all very disappointed but nature has the final say up here: Ask Franklin. We departed Dundas Harbour yesterday morning and were called on the radio by the Canadian Coast Guard ship Pierre Radisson. Part of his communication was the message that they strongly advise against any NWP attempts this year due to the unusual ice present. Later Victor our ice and weather router sent us the same official message with clarification. The Coast Guard is not able to get to all areas this season to effect a rescue or offer ice breaker assistance. Further the passage beyond Bellot Straight is blocked and likely to remain so for at least 2 weeks and even then the prediction is not good. Compounding this is ice currently blocks our exit on the Alaskan shore. A 200 mile stretch of coast is blocked by solid 10/10 ice and a further 180 mile section is only navigable by a 3 mile wide belt of 3/10 ice currently being squeezed closed. This would have left us stuck in the middle with no alternative but to over winter in a small settlement and risk Destiny to the winter's ice, and of course a massive risk to her and crew to push trying to get there. The ice will start to refreeze up here in the next 3 weeks; it is a short season, 2 nights ago it snowed and the fresh snow is still sitting on the pack ice, the water is only 1 degree here. We have 4 days of strong North East wind predicted, so heading several hundred miles South made no sense if we had to return against the wind. A unanimous decision to turn back was made, safe and sensible of course but very disappointing for us all. We now face plan B which has not until now even been thought about. Where to head to now?
PICTURE: Berg in the flat calm sea of Lancaster Sound with Devon Island in the background, a glorious day motoring in the pack ice (1-3/10ths)