Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fiona Arrives Gjoa Haven

Entry from Russ Roberts journal on 8/20/09:

46 miles to Gjoa Haven at 0815.  It will feel good to get there.

Rae Strait is bumpy this AM after overnight winds which have swells unsettled.  It's raining and damp.
Last Message received from Russ on Wednesday night: "Quiet night tied to floe. Underway 6AM. Motoring well. 130nm (nautical miles) to Gjoa. Biggest story on this trip is how little story there is. Glassy water. Visibility great today. Egg salad sands for lunch. Advise all well!"

The SPOT tracker sent coordinates at 1:04 PM this afternoon locating Fiona in Gjoa Haven. Congratulations to Fiona and crew on a safe passage through icy Peel Sound, Franklin Strait and Larsen Sound. Hopefully hot showers for all! ~DH~

A moment to reflect upon the ice. When one embarks upon the Northwest Passage, even in years of minimum ice coverage, one has to expect to "get up close and personal" with big hunks and sheets of frozen water. One must accept the possibility that any vessel other than an ice breaker or ice hardened ship could be lost due to damage by ice. Vessel loss or damage must be placed into the "acceptable risk" equation.

My personal emotions on this trip are fueled by the fact that I do not own the vessel I sail upon. I can only feel vicariously what Eric of Fiona, Sprague of Bagan, Jovar of Perithia and the other boat owners are experiencing as the reality of the Northwest Passage begins scraping, gnawing and shrieking against their beloved hulls. Polar ice creates noises only Steven King or Bram Stoker could describe in words! Not knowing what damage may be accruing below the waterline is a mystery I'm sure none of them enjoy.

My primary concern, that feeling I am closest to as a non-owner crewmember, is personal safety for life and limb and the safety of those with me. At no point in the Peel Sound or Franklin Strait, at the points of maximum ice concentration, did I ever fear. The imminent danger of a swim in the Mustang suit due to hull rupture never came close. In the event that our situation had deteriorated and the sad eventuality of sinking did occur, the land was always close. The radios, Epirb and SPOT beacons always functioned and stood by in case they needed to be employed to send a "Mayday." The options for safety aboard and ashore and help if needed always remained open and available. We never exhausted our plans for a safe outcome.


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