PROGRESS REPORT No. 12
Map relating to this progress report
After dinner last night we were sitting around the cabin table playing cards, A hundred and One-a new game, introduced by Gary. We were well fed and all seemed well with our world.
It's hard now to see why we were so complacent, possibly because we had made good time since leaving the Lena River Delta behind. The ice had not materialised where expected and we had got on a further fifty or so miles. The previous evening we had tied to a floe at the ice edge to await improvement. A cargo vessel, also bound westward, lay about a half mile away. The day had been as pleasant and sunny as could be, doing some film shots under sail around the loose ice, followed by swimming, yes, the ten second arctic- plunge.
Before dinner fog had come down and the ice around had thickened. No matter, tomorrow would be all right, and the cargo vessel was still around. In the middle of the hand, a VHF call came in for us, the ship was moving out.
God Almighty! You never saw such a transformation. In minutes we were fully geared up and on deck. The ship had moved off, now about a half mile off through very thick ice. With engine revving and manic poling, we bashed, swerved, screwed and twisted our way up to her stern, to follow her out the mile or so to the ice edge. Her big propellers churned, water swirled and as she moved off lumps of ice, house sized, leapt up around us back about 100 feet behind. Right under her stern seemed marginally better. Did we have to do this? Yes we did, otherwise we might be stuck for days, even for a week. In under the stern we got, but found it impossible to hold our bow on line-as she used one propeller and then the other we were thrown about into the ice on either side. They offered us a line, big hawser. We took it through our puny stemhead and made fast, our bow about 30 feet from her stern. Now what were we in for?
I'll shorten the story. From nine o clock last night until about three o clock to day, we were hammered, our poor boat was bashed with ice of every make and shape. Depth charges in reverse rose under us, floes beside rattled against us, brash swirled and jammed our rudder, our centreboard, half-up was driven up further by impact. This ship was not going to the ice edge at all, but was forcing her way through the ice choked strait south of Ostrov Bolshoi Byegichev. This was our way too, but could we or should we be doing this? Very high risk, but the alternate was to sit for a week or maybe more. We stuck with it, changing helmsman and bowman every half hour.
The end came tranquil. The sea cleared, the ship picked up speed to about six knots. We parcelled a bottle of Irish, our brochure agus cead euro,( i rouble) in water proof bag, passed it up their stern, and cast off the line. She continued, bound up the Khatangski River, we altered course to the north- west. Her siren gave three goodbye long hoots. And we don't even know her captains name.
Well, we won't be doing that again. But we have made the ground. We're going to anchor shortly, over on the west side of this bay, at seventy four and a half degrees north. We'll sleep well tonight, and tomorrow, the wind already blowing westerly off the land of the Taymyrski Penninsula, should allow us to get upwards towards seventy six degrees north.
Northabout In Ice. Jarlath and Slava On Deck
An Arctic Swim
Northabout Through The Ice. 24th of August 2004
An Arctic Rainbow