Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The edges of the decision.

Rather too much Consultation last night and I've just wimped out of a run this morning. The big low pressure system is still parked west of Barrow giving us a N or NW gradient with up to 25 knots and 10ft seas further north. Amodino had only got as far as Cape Wales by last night - about 150 miles in nearly 4 days. There is a tiny break forecast for tomorrow and the next couple of days and we might get going and have a look but it's not promising. Barrow appears to be sufficiently open to get through. The ice in Queen Maud has started to melt but there's still a lot of fast ice there and the Canadian Environment Service graphs show 10% more ice in the NW Passage than last year. It's beginning to look as if we might have picked the wrong year, but there's still time to get through safely if we can get to Barrow and Maud melts enough to give us a reasonable probability once we do. Pat, who has been there and been caught for a year, says that if the break up in Maud and Peel Strait is late, the ice tends to be blown south and packs in from White Bear Point north to Jenny Lind, blocking the passage.  If that happens this year and we are not through, we would have to leave the boat in Cambridge Bay or go back 600 miles to Tuktoyaktuk or even further west if is still open. The later we get to Barrow, assuming we do, the more we should know about what is happening to the east, but the decision will not be easy unless things change significantly in the next week or so. Today, I am going to try again to contact a friend of Pat'swho lives in Cambridge Bay - someone who has also sailed the passage and knows the conditions - to try to get a feel for what might happen there over the next month. He hasn't been answering his phone, but maybe today.

If you are not already bored silly by all this inactivity, watch this space.