PROGRESS REPORT No. 7
Map relating to this progress report
Monday August 9th.
We're at Longitude 164 Degrees East, just after passing Cape Baranoff. We're in clear water, four o clock in the afternoon and going gallant. Yesterday it was a different story. I had written:
"Anxious now is the going off the north side of Ostrov Ayon. It's foggy with the vis. down to about 200 metres. We're just inside the edge of the pack ice. The leads through which we're going are short and twisty, exits invisible. This is far from our 'Long Mile Road' lead of a few days ago. A couple of times this watch we've had to reverse our track to get out of dead- ends. And its cold, very cold, in the fog. We have full cold weather 'battledress' on now, Thermal long- johns, comfy Mid layer and waterproof Outer Layer.-and its all needed. No waltzing or weaving through the ice now. Its all hard work on deck and anxiety below."
And it got worse !
However there's no reason why you should have to suffer our repetitive chronicle-and we are making fair old progress and that's the main thing.
Let us tell you a bit about the good time we had in the town of Pevek; that most unlikely place for any fun-- talk about a broken down place. Its population of 13,000 is reduced to 2,000. Even the walking- wounded seem to have gone south.
Last Friday night about 11, we arrived and we tied the boat to the jetty, a sunken barge. An hour later, formalities were cleared and with rapid step we went looking for a bar, a hotel or a caf. Most unlikely it seemed, as we stepped along broken paths and passed empty apartment blocks. One doorway had three people standing outside. We approached -and heard music. In we went, Caf Romashka. The joint was jumpin', loud music, drink, dancing. We quickly got the hang of it!
Next day, sluggishly in a drizzly sort of a day, I walked up the hill behind the town. It took an hour and a half, so it must be about 700 metres high. Several groups were out on the tundra picking berries and mushrooms. In the valley off to one side was a group sitting round a fire-I stayed a wary distance off. Coming down, they were still there. They waved me over. They were six men and three women, having a picnic in the rain. The table was loaded with food of all sorts, fish, reindeer, flavoured berries, cheeses. It was insisted that I eat. I was thirsty and they gave me a cup of soda water-or so I thought, pure raw vodka it was. And now, as a guest, had to drink up!
They were geologists, mostly from Ukrania. It was a birthday party. Discreetly, so as not to cause offence, I gave the senior man, Sergei, Alexei or whatever his name was, a 200 rouble note for the birthday boy. It got no further as deftly he pocketed it.
Several hours later, I had somehow got into the spirit of the thing, some of the bodies were hors-de-combat. A jeep arrived, bouncing over the rough ground. The comatose were loaded in, speakers were wired up and music, scratchy, but loud, filled the valley. I had just enough wit to make my thanks and escape.
Down in the Caf, things were in full swing. There was a table of ourselves, another of a big family birthday group, another of policemen. This was an older crowd altogether than last nights teeny boppers. Our new Russian friends toasted us and we them, repeatedly!
Next day, that was yesterday, we took on diesel and left.
To keep in out of the ice, we're generally following the line of the coast. Even though its longer, its faster in the long run. Our next destination is the town of Tiksi, 800 miles westward from Pevek, passing through Proliv Laptev and leaving Novi Siberski Ostrovi to starboard.
Here is some basic Russian.
Mys-Cape or Headland---remember Mys Schmidt.
Our effective progress is most easily measured by reference to our Longitude. At present, this is 164 Degrees East. This is the number we've got to keep reducing.
By the way, to get the best readout on our map position:
Click 'Position Report'---a map will appear, not usually very informative.
To get an improved map-Click on the line of text, two lines above ( MSN Map? ). You can then zoom in and out of this map.