FROM 2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Catastrophising.Tue 20/05/2008 05:13

Keith C: could you please email your contact phone numbers to the website and Speedy will forward them to me?

Those of you who know me will understand that what follows is called catastrophising – thinking things through to worst possible conclusions and developing contingency plans. What it isn’t is the beginning of a rationalisation for failure.

The task, as I see it, is to get Berri safely through the NWP and out to a safe port at the other end with an acceptable safety margin. The eclipse would be a wonderful spin off. So – starting from the far end, we really need to be at the south end of Greenland by the beginning of September at the absolute latest. The Atlantic is starting to growl by then and even getting to Halifax might be difficult. That means leaving Beechey Island or wherever we get to up there by mid August. No later. Allow 30 days (ambitious in itself)for the NWP from Barrow to Beechey, and we must be past Barrow by mid July. Dutch to Barrow via Nome is at least 2 weeks, so we must leave Dutch by the end of June. The current plan is to leave by June 14, so from here we have a contingency factor of about 2 weeks. That’s the balance, and there’s no real safety factor built in if we accept the latest dates. Nor does it give us time for maintenance and fixes in Dutch.

I think we will be able to push through this nastiness here, but it may take a lot longer than I had allowed for. If it is more than two weeks, we have a problem. The broad options then seem to me to be:

- accept that it would be stupid to headbang beyond the two weeks and so head for Hawaii or preferably Vancouver, park the boat and rethink for next year, or just go home or for a cruise. Kimbra could join us wherever.

- get to Dutch come what may, park the boat and – say – fly into Cambridge Bay for the eclipse, then collect the boat and sail home via Canada and points south

- Get to Dutch, reassess what may still be possible given our arrival date and get on with it. A sail up to Barrow would be pretty interesting…

Kimbra, all this affects you most. My preferred option would be the Cambridge Bay one and then you could sail back down the Alaskan/Canadian coast and fly home when duty calls. Any comments?

All that said, I’ve got work to do – I think we may be at the start of the wind change – appendages crossed please.

False alarm – it’s pretty ordinary out there. Some very big waves – going downwind would be tricky, but upwind, Berri is no better than an old square rigger like Cook’s Endeavour or Resolution in these conditions. We just can’t do it, so we have to manoeuvre to optimise for future changes and then wait and see whether they happen. Right now, we are tracking 300M at 2.5 kts…

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