Captains Log 08/19/2014 Gjoa Haven

08/18/2014 1354 hrs

I think we finally got the weather we’ve been hoping for.

Yesterday marked one week, on anchor in Gjoa Haven. It has been cold and windy. Mostly blowing steady from the NW.

Friday the 15th, brought snow that stuck to the ground and although it melted later in the day, a furrow froze into my brow from its presence.

Snow sticks to the ground in Gjoa Haven
Snow sticks to the ground in Gjoa Haven

Each day we have rowed ashore and checked the ice. Little by little, a few tiny leads have grown toward us. But not near enough for us to make way. And so we have waited.

Some days we were excited and planning our next move. Some days, that lowly feeling has crept in. As we discuss wintering over and what our options are…

As all hopeful passage makers, we have our challenges, regarding wintering over. For the record. I would LOVE to stay a winter frozen in. But for now, I have 2 sons who need me. They are in Alaska and did not opt to join the trip this year. So I cant just stay here in good conscience. Being a father, is part leading the way, in an example of how to live well. The other part is being in their lives and appreciating moments that they find on their own.

So back I must go.

Also, Samantha and I have a wedding in January in Alaska. Which is where our Fiancé Visa was filed for. Also Samantha has a flying contract in Indonesia this winter…

All that to say that wintering over is not an option this year.

This leaves us to ponder our options if the passage does not open.

Now to be clear. I believe it will open. I also believe that our positioning is excellent. By tackling the passage in 2 years as opposed to one, we have left ourselves, not only positioned well. But rested and full of sailing memories and friendships from our visit to the Arctic.

Samantha playing guitar with our new friends in Gjoa Haven.  They are a fantastic RCMP family, living an interesting life in the Canadian Arctic.
Samantha playing guitar with our new friends in Gjoa Haven. They are a fantastic RCMP family, living an interesting life in the Canadian Arctic.

So the long and short of it is, if we make it out. Fantastic! If we need to stay, that’s fine too.

We will enjoy the process and pounce at opportunities to move forward, just as before.

As for today goes. We are enjoying our oversized ground tackle, anchored in 35 knots of wind. The fire crackles on as we peer to the weather we hoped for.

Yes. We want this weather. That cold MW wind was doing little to break ice North of us. What we needed was a warm low pressure system. We need warm, violent weather, to stir things up and turn that 9/10 ice into a mash.

Once the ice is reduced and divided, it is free to move. Our hope is to follow the first open leads through the pack, before all the loosened ice bears down on us.

In the mean time, we have decided to take off the pressure from our schedule. We will stop short of Iceland. Making Greenland our port for the winter.

This spring will leave us ready to explore Greenland in proper fashion as we sail East.

As always, the “Destination” is to enjoy each moment. So looking at our situation, through that light. We are right where we want to be.

2330 hrs.

Again the clatter of snapping halyards returns, as the winds rebuild from a short evening reprieve.

I’m glad we struck the Mizzen earlier, as that tired old sail was taking a beating. Even without it, we do not seem to veer to much at anchor.

Samantha Cozy by the fire.  While the wind howls around us.
Samantha Cozy by the fire. While the wind howls around us.

I foresee building a new Mizzen sail this winter and will be surprised if this one makes the trip.

I tried again to pull the ice charts from weather fax over HF Radio to the I-pad. I get a picture but it is unclear. I have a basic license, but still want for much knowledge in the HF world. There is so much to learn.

For now we have been relying on a few close friends for information.

Nick Massey (A close friend who has been helping since 2012, via internet, phone and HF Radio)

Monica Bourque (A close friend of Samantha’s who flew as a pilot in the Arctic for years)

And a very helpful man named Victor whom I have not had the pleasure of meeting yet. Victor has Arctic experience and has offered us sound advice.

Primarily between these 3 resources, we have good enough information to make choices.

Other family and friends send us weather and hello notes as well on our Delorme In Reach device. Which is always welcome☺

I have the feeling that we will be able to depart soon. That is good because all we do is eat, play cards and do little projects. Although I must say we are enjoying our time together as we wait for the ice and gnaw on the decisions to come.
Today we had coffee and fresh bread on the boat with Erkan. The Captain of Altan Girl.

Erkan has come all the way from Neniamo BC to Gjoa Haven. Solo. Also without heat, on a custom built boat of his own design. It is an Aluminum motor sailor with very unique exterior flotation. Erkan tells me he will try and go non stop to Turkey, by way of the East Coast, then cross Atlantic to Turkey.

Today we watched as he drug anchor over and over again. He never signaled for or asked for help of any kind. He simply set to work anchoring. Again and again. When we saw him later he was cheery and had no complaints.

It seems that is what it takes to be here. If you embrace the work, the experience is pleasant.

Also yesterday we had a lunch guest, named Tone Wang. She is a representative from the Oslo museum, now here in Gjoa Haven, repatriating artifacts to the Heritage center. These are items that Roald Amundsen brought back to Norway from the Arctic from his history altering, successful voyage through the Northwest Passage.

I have offered to dive under Amundsen’s anchorage site. That is, if the Gales subside before we depart.

The cabin is now a bit clogged with built dive gear. Hopefully tomorrow will be calm enough to take a look below.

As far as tonight, I think ill be up late. All though our anchor has held well so far, complacency will be held off by vigilance and a little work.

No one wants to check the anchor rode at 0200. But the consequences’ of grounding anywhere in the NW Passage weigh in heavy. So just like Erkan. We will put in the work.

08/19/2014 1746 hrs.

Well the gales subsided enough to row into town. But the only rowing needed was to slow us as we beached. Our anchor held strong, but the nights are getting darker and the ice was gnawing at my gut.

So I was pleasantly surprised to view the Ice chart today! That warm howling wind shook things up all right. And from the looks of it, we should be underway by Thursday.

In the mean time we will enjoy the company of our new friends, and hope for a lull so I can do that dive safely.

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