Progress Report No. 1 2005

Bulletin Number One, 2005.

The Siberian winter was a cold one. Very cold---a real Russian winter. The Russian ice-men say that that's a good thing. They say that cold winters are followed by hot summers, and that's what we need to pour the hot rivers northward to melt the Arctic ice.

We hope only that the cold, which went to minus 57 degrees in Khatanga, hasn't damaged Northabout in her winter berth within the frozen-in hull of the big river barge. In Nome, Alaska she came safely through a winter which went to minus 40 degrees.

Anyway we'll know shortly because Jarlath and Tom Moran are going out in ten days time to oversee the lift- out and to get the mast back in and the boat ready. Our friends in Khatanga tell us that the river should be clear of ice and flowing by June 12th.

We've had a busy winter fundraising. That end of things is looking OK, thanks to our own cash-call , our good friends and some commercial support--about which more later.We did a lot of slide-shows, all high-tech now with powerpoint and all that. I really would have preferred to do no talking until we had the Passage completed and were back home. However we were asked to tell our story . It would have been ungracious to decline, we dined well---and besides, we need the money!

Colm is now working in Moscow and he's talking to our old friends in the Northern Sea Rute Administration. We hope to get the Permit by extension of last years, rather than go through the whole process again.

Last year in Khatanga we asked why we couldn't just lift the boat onto the riverbank for the winter?The answer we were given was that, apart from any security problems, the river rises 10 metres, yes ,33 feet!, during meltdown.

What happens is that around now the big melt begins inland , for several thousand miles.The meltwater begins to run bigtime under the river-ice, bulging it upward. Then the river ice is broken upward by the water-pressure and the ice begins to flow, big lumps the size of houses.A few days later much of this ice gets grounded on the shallows where the river meets the sea. This huge build up in effect becomes a dam, with the river building up behind it. A few days later, wham, the dam bursts and the river takes off, water and ice flying seaward. By June 12th all should be placid--or so we're told! And 'Northabout' will be launched.

The sea ice won't start to crackup until the beginning of August, so ther's no point in getting started before then. At the end of June, Jarlath and Tom will be back home and will tell us how they got on. We'll do a Bulletin then--Jarlath and Toms' Story.