Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Damp and dismold in Nome

Not much to add really. It's still bleak, raining and cold in Nome – so bleak that Megan and I wimped out of our run this morning. Shame on us.

 And it's still blowing from the north east up north of the Bering Strait in the Chukchi Sea and along the north coast with no obvious sign that it's going to change any time soon. The ice is loosening and Point Barrow will probably be clear in a few days, so we are in difficult decision mode. It is very easy - too easy - to sit here and wait for the perfect moment – if it comes - but a couple more days seems sensible. Our friend in Barrow agrees - it's great to be able to talk to someone up there with real and long term experience of the conditions.

The focus for me has now shifted towards the other end. It's at least 4500 miles to the Atlantic, so 50+ days if we are lucky. We must be there by mid September at the very latest and I've just spent a difficult hour on the computer and the phone buying the digital chart for the Greenland coasts in case it is pearshaped when we do get there and we need a bolt hole somewhere. Not an easy coastline and with typical fjord wind conditions, so I hope we don't. Slarty didn't design it for sailing boats! Anyway, to get over there in time, I think we must leave here for Point Barrow in the next 10 days or look at the alternatives.

Sadly, therefore, not our year as far as the original objectives are concerned. We will certainly miss the eclipse and probably also any chance of a rendezvous with Pascal and the HMP team. They expect to leave Resolute on August 19. Slim chance indeed but I still have a beer delivery to make. Maybe a cache under a cairn at Beechey, just like old times! Pat Hahn says that this year seems to be more like the years when he was up there himself – everything is later than it has been for the last few years. It will almost certainly clear sufficiently to allow us through, but timing at the other end becomes critical. The Atlantic in October is not a good place to be.

So there it is. The main objective, the NW Passage is still definitely feasible but the fun bits are a bit more remote. Watch this space, if you have the patience!

For anyone planning to follow us – a word of warning. The digital charts that I own and some of the others that I have seen are far less detailed than the paper versions. By no means worthless, but certainly not what I have become used to further south. Check very carefully before you buy – I suspect a copyright battle somewhere in the background.