03 September 2010 | Approaching Tuktoyaktuk
Liz for Dermot
We managed to have a long and informative chat last night on the radio schedule with Peter Semotiuk. We haven?t always been able to communicate clearly, possibly as it is difficult on a gaff rigged boat to arrange decent antenna aerial set up, and this can make a dramatic difference when attempting long range radio communications. As ever he had helpfully downloaded the relevant area's shipping forecasts that covered our current zone and the ones we were headed for. The forecasts sound OK for the next few days.
We also learned that the poor Clipper Adventurer is possibly still stuck near Coppermine. When you look in detail at the chart and pilot books, some of the track soundings were only ever taken at more than 4 mile intervals so you can see how significant shallow areas could have been missed.
Mathieu Bonnier is rowing down the west side of King William Island (we went east of it). This will save him a lot of time but there is always the risk of big bits of old hard ice coming down M'clintock Sound. He does however seem to be making great progress. There are also two British Royal Marines rowing and sailing a tiny boat the other way. They left the boat for the winter in Cambridge Bay and are currently battling up Peel Sound and hoping to get to Resolute before freeze up. Good luck to both sets of rowers.
There is also a bit of a race going on with three boats all seeking to be the first ones ever to do the NE and NW passages in a single season. To do this they start at Norway and go over the top of Russia, then Alaska and then Canada!!
Currently there are two Norwegians (one of whom is known to Amelia having walked to the geographic north pole and thus marked himself being a recurrent glutton for ridiculous punishment and hardship!) in a small trimaran in the lead. They seem to be making things unnecessarily hard on themselves (and jeopardising being first) as they do not have a motor. Peter thinks that they might be caught, but all of them are still I think in Russian waters and have heck of a long way to go before the season is over and everything is frozen solid. That is a race we are very happy not to be competing in.
Talking of the weather it is noticeably colder today. About one degree Celsius. But an all important positive not negative one degree. For now. We check the barometer hourly and it has always been pretty steady and high. Today was very high at 1027 milllibars. Not sure what that means up here.
We are entering an area with lots of actual and abandoned oil exploration paraphernalia. They have created all sorts of artificial islands, which are then left to disintegrate once they have served their purpose. As a result there are all sorts of unmarked obstructions some of which are awash and a real hazard to navigation. Somme are deeper with 20metres on top of them that should not bother us.
We passed one ship today, the Polar Price who had five submerged craft on the end of a 9km cable doing seismic work. They requested we give them a five-mile wide berth so that our engine did not interfere with the seismic readings.
We are now approaching Tuk. We will probably spend two nights here, see some of the sights and stock up with fuel and food. Hopefully will find a reasonable internet connection somewhere too.
From here we will probably stop at Herschel Island and then we pass Demarcation Point that marks the boundary between Canada and the USA. Just beyond Demarcation Point is another possible anchorage, called unsurprisingly, Demarcation Bay.
Relentlessly grey day today with no visible land so I have resorted again to Bernard Harbour and their abandoned accommodation block for a photo. A "highly desirable residence, in need of a little renovation, that does not meet modern insulation requirements" as the estate agents might describe it.