Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fiona Underway to Cambridge Bay

Email from Russ Thursday August 20 after arriving in Gjoa Haven:

"We arrived in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut this morning around 10AM. Rainy and foggy but otherwise good to be here. This is where Roald Amundsen wintered with the Gjoa before proceeding west to complete his passage. At the end of his second winter in Gjoa Haven he encountered San Francisco whale ships in Deale Sound near present day Cambridge Bay, thus being the first to link both sides of the Northwest Passage.

"I'm leaving the trip in Cambridge Bay. There's no ice from here to Alaska so the [major] ice challenge of the trip is virtually over. Also, I've completed my own linkage of the Passage, having passed vessels bound from the Pacific. So I can leave with a sense of satisfaction."

On Friday August 21 he wrote: "Aground again [for the second time this trip] yesterday due to winds that piped up at the fueling 'dock' (really just a metal bulkhead set against the shore). Plans for dinner ashore and a long time in the rack, boat talk for 'bed,' something the crew has craved for days, are dashed. We are up with the tide at 11PM to maneuver away to deeper water. Our plan works well (although our execution is rather slap-stick); two anchors and the dingy as tug boat on the bow allow us to kedge, pulling against the wind to point the boat so we can make headway with ship's diesel.

Ocean Watch (one of the vessels making the passage from west to east) pulls in just as we are setting our anchor. I make a casual 'Ocean Watch, welcome to Gjoa Haven' call to them on VHF Channel 16 belying that only minutes before we are all 'thumbs, elbows and left legs' getting situated. Joe Waits says, "China called. They want their fire drill back." I am glad to be at anchor, rather than still performing in the 'midnight circus' getting off the 'dock' (with a bag over my head to hide embarrassment), before Ocean Watch gets in.

"Quite a feeling to meet the eastbounder and know the trip is all but complete. Amundsen must have felt similar though greater seeing the whaler in Dease, 'Vessel in sight!' Will leave noon tomorrow hopefully after brunch with with Capt. Mark Schrader and Ocean Watch crew ashore.

"P.S. No ice AT ALL sighted south of Matty Island. Amazing. No ice AT ALL sighted in my drink for a month. Tragic."

Fiona did leave Gjoa Haven Friday afternoon heading west for Cambridge Bay. Early this morning gale warnings were posted for the area they were traversing and the SPOT locator has shown they are not moving and apparently have taken safe refuge until the winds become more favorable. ~DH~

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