David Buckland and I awoke at 3:45 this morning to join first mate, Renske Ritzema, on the morning watch. We hoisted anchor at Sorgfiorden on the island of Friedland to head south through Hinlopenstretet. Our hope was to get through the polar ice that had been drifting northward through the straight, and dogging us for the past several days. The very same ice that nearly trapped us yesterday. To the disappointment of the polar bears, we got away. Full news on other reports.
There was the dimmest light in the sky, as indeed there is all through the night at this time of year. Looking across the horizon, Renske pointed out, one can see where the ice is located, not from seeing the ice itself but by detecting the white reflective band it makes on the skyline.
Within a half an hour I was at the controls of the ship with the entire Cape Farewell team, unawares, slumbering below. It was blissfull; silent and calm. There’s a lot of life on board this boat and it was really wonderful to be in the vastness of the arctic morn with the gang asleep.
She is sweet to control, this vessel. One needs to feel the turnings and compensations of the wheel as she moves about the course, mildy rolling in the morning swell. Finding the way through the broken ice pack adds to the joy, especially when successful.
And successful we were, to a point. The ice pack arrived, first on the horizon, then up close. Soon we were within. Renske took over the controls. Simon, our brilliant and friendly scientist, explains that loose polar ice is moved by a combination of wind and rotation of the earth, the latter causing the pack to drift to the east. The ship’s radar and Renske’s skill guide us through to open water.
But not for long as events turn. Two hours south we encounter the second wave of ice blocking our progress. I learn the patience of polar sailing, as we head back north to the fiord from which we came. Seems we will spend another night at Sorgfiorden with the hope that the disappearing polar ice pack will float past us, thereby allowing our passage tomorrow to future adventures.BACK TO TOP