Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Busy Day

Entry from Russ Roberts' journal:

Due to lousy weather and increasing concentration of ice Eric called the Coast Guard to give them our position.

After pancakes for breakfast we are checking and filling the Go Bag.  This is a partial list of some stuff we need to put in it in case we need to abandon ship(discuss more with others):

SPOT locator beacon
Iridium phone
Shotgun & shells
Paper (most interesting when the story survives the characters!)
Batteries for all

Talking with the others the contents of the Go Bag, we talk about the shotgun.  "Do we need more shells?"  asked Eric.  There were four in the plastic Ziploc sitting next to our Go Bag.

"I want all of them that are on the boat!" I said.  There is no desire to execute a successful abandon ship exercise, make it through ice and fog to shore ... only then to be eaten by a polar bear!  We dug around for the whole box of shells and put it in the bag.

At 2200 Joe and I began watch.  After leaving the Bellot area we began what we're calling the "ice watches;" two of us are paired up to stand "watch and watch," each pair taking a four hour turn (normally on Fiona each man stands a two hour watch alone).  With two on watch all the time there is one to steer and one to "con" the boat.  Joe and I have a good system.  He stands forward when needed and directs with hand signals.  I include him in my "scan" at the helm and am able to respond immediately.  We've not brushed any ice in some very close quarters with this system.  This has to be the world's biggest game of Dodg-Em.

Going through the ice last night (this morning) at 0200 was the toughest.  The quality of light was such that one could not really tell where there was clear water and where there was ice.  We took our best shot.  It seemed to work.  Funny, because it might not have worked.  Looking toward the 2AM "setting sun" would show a path perfectly clear of ice.  But that was a sucker's bet.  If we turned that way we would find ourselves right up on big floes.

We just continued turning and jinking and managed to stay clear by inches.

1330:  Eric and David on are watch.  In the last few minutes the boat has tagged several floes as it motors into cul-de-sacs in thickening fog.  They've had to put it into reverse and back up just now.  The sea, meanwhile, is glass smooth due to the calm winds that contribute to the fog.

2330:  Dog tired.  Nine hours at the helm today.  The four of us spent all afternoon and evening on deck wrestling ice.  Radar useless.  Attenuates and gives the impression of leads where there are none.  Fog continues.  Unable to make forward progress and the route behind is closed with ice.  We give up and tie to an eight foot high bit of ice that sticks to a floe.  We are off Andressean Head.

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