FROM 2-5. Nome-Tuktoyaktuk (Canada)

Some observations on a damp and slow day 7009 13651

There are Arctic Terns swirling around the boat and making tern noises – a high pitched rather squeaky squeeerky cheep. They have come a long way around the world – ever further than us. The GPS reads 8080 miles so far.

Tomorrow is Eclipse Day. With a bit of luck we will be tied up in Tuktoyaktuk – Tuk to its friends, so tucked up might be better. We will be 600 miles short of actually being under the path of totality which starts at Cambridge Bay and about 1200 miles short of Beechey. Not our year – there’s no way we could have made CB even though I think we left Nome within an hour or so of exactly the right moment and have made astonishingly fast time to here. We needed Barrow open at least 10 days earlier and no sustained northerlies for it to have worked. However, I still think that it was a neat idea, as we all did in the bar in Baton Rouge last October and there are still lots of just as important things to achieve – we have to follow the dotted line on Pascal’s chart and see whether we really do end up in the UK, perhaps with a visit to Beechey. This would complete a transit of the NW Passage and it would wrap the circumnavigation Pete and I started on August 20 2005 when we left Falmouth for Hobart. IFF we can get that one together, Berri would become one of very few, if any, boats that have circumnavigated via both Cape Horn and the NWP. Not strictly in accordance with Hoyle, as the 2 circs would share the Falmouth – Hobart leg, but each complete in itself. Interesting thought, but there’s a lot of water and ice to be negotiated before that can happen.

And an absorbing trip from Nome – history, lifetime special moments in the Bering Strait, Point Barrow not seen in the fog, then ice and fog and sunlight all together – still ethereal and not quite believable, yet it happened and I was certainly frightened by the possibilities. Seals, birds, jelly fish (how do they survive in icy waters?)and McQ hit a whale and I hit a tree. And three days of grey, drizzly cold damp westerlies that have blasted us across the Canadian border almost to Tuk. In marketspeak, challenging sailing, dead downwind in very big breaking waves with sometimes over 40 kts up the chuff. Seems to be easing now.

Lots of jobs to do in Tuk – the last few days have worked poor old Berri pretty hard.

Later 7005 13522
Have finally made contact with Peter Semotiuk in Cambridge Bay on the HF. Yeeehaaa. He says there is no ice at CB and it’s breaking up to the east and north. Fingers crossed and back to appendages as well all y’all.

Next day – 6950 13332 and the eclipse has been and gone. We’re motoring through the approaches to Tuk – about 5 miles west of the safe water mark at the entrance to the long channel. To get here, we crossed the mouth of the mighty Mackenzie River that runs across northern Canada. The water has just changed colour from deep muddy brown to the more usual rather dirty greenish jade. I think the muddy brown would be from way down inside Canada and mostly fresh water.

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