Saturday, August 15, 2009

Farewell Resolute

Fiona left Resolute Friday morning, 14 August, sailing south down Peel Sound. Progress Saturday was made more difficult with south winds and at 6:30 pm Russ reported that they had finally sailed far enough south to have "ice in sight". The next couple of days will no doubt be the most intense for the crew of the Fiona as Franklin Strait and Larsen Sound are still strewn with ice. The ice is melting rapidly on the east side and one vessel has with some difficulty made the journey through Peel Sound to Goja Haven. Vessels from the west are gathering at Cambridge Bay and it appears at this time that all vessels involved will have a trip through the Northwest Passage this season.

While waiting in Resolute Bay the Fiona kept company with two vessels, the French Fleur Australe and the German Perithia. (Picture above: Fleur, Perithia, Fiona in Resolute Bay) The Fleur Australe left Resolute 7 days before Fiona and has reached Gjoa Haven. The Perithia is estimated about 6 hours behind the Fiona in Peel Sound.

The Fleur is a 65 foot aluminum ketch with a retractable keel. That keel made it possible for Fleur to escape Resolute Bay the morning the ice pack trapped Fiona and Perithia by allowing it to go into shallow water around the pack. This vessel is home to a French family of 6, two adults and four children ranging in age from 1 to 12 years. Russ wrote about Phillipe, captain and father of the children, after a morning near shore for fuel, "Being close to shore, when the tide went out Fleur rested on the bottom allowing Philippe to scrub the bottom, at least some of it. He claims he’s “losing a knot” because of the growth on the hull. A man who single-handed races boats around the world (winning two O-Star races) he is hardy. In a wetsuit, in the Arctic, in the water cleaning his boat. Not me." You can read the journal of the Fleur Australe's voyage through the passage on their blog: You will need web translator as it is written in French.

The Perithia is a fiberglass hull Bavaria 44 and home to Jovar and Kathryn. Their blog is: Again, the translator--it is in German.

A fourth vessel, Bagan, a Nordhavn 57 motor vessel has wonderful pictures and video on their blog: Because of the ice pack in Resolute, Bagan bypassed it and spent their time touring various bays and inlets. They are presently about a day ahead of the Fiona.

There are four vessels making the trip from west to east and two cruise liners that are planning to pass each other somewhere in the passage.


Russ Roberts' August 15th journal entry:

We spent all night tacking across Peel Sound.  The wind was out of the south, the chop was building and we had slowed to 2.5kts across the ground.  By tacking our average miles made good was down to two nautical miles every hour.  But we were sailing and not burning diesel fuel!  Eric weighed the option of pulling into a bay to wait out a wind shift.  I am for continuing to make whatever progress is possible, to be in whatever advantageous position might develop.  I do not want to miss a window of opportunity with the ice.

Bagan e-mailed via single side band Sailmail that he is underway havng left Pattinson Harbor in Young's Bay.  He saw a lead opening up on the ice chart.  That is why I was anxious to be down there.

There is no word yet from Perithia.  I have been calling at least twice a day on VHF.  Safety in numbers, or at least "comfort in numbers," seems like a reliable old saw on most any occasion.  And this is the Northwest Passage!  I still do not understand the skipper's thinking on this matter.

Today it has been one month since I saw a tree.  Tonight we are back to motoring into the teeth of the wind, making 2 and 1/2 knots.  We're kicking up a lot of water and occasionally taking a wave over the bow.  Not a fun watch.  Earlier today I was in great mood; delighted to be underway and heading in the right direction.

1740:  Serious ice in sight at 72 14N.  This is probably the ice that Deb reported yesterday.  Given the south winds overnight it is reasonable that it is now north of the position of her report.

1820:  Fiona just deviated around small ice floes that required David to hand steer for twenty minutes.  No problem.  This ice is associated with a larger patch reported around Bellot Straits.

The next 120 miles will tell the tale; this is the major challenge we anticipated on the trip.  Of course, unanticpated challenges may arise at any time.  And the thought occurs that some challenges may be of a nature that the same situation does not even register with another person.  These would be individual, personal, challenges.

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