Breskell: drone launching and ice climbing…(16)

After a good « night » rest, time to take the road again,

After a good « night » rest,  it’s time to take the road again, in fact to « walk the ice » again.  It’s 10:30 am .  We get out of our embedded nest in the drifting ice-field and soon are back on track. 

Eric at the bow with the hand-held radio and me at the wheel with the receiver;  together we try to find again a clear path among the ice-flows.

Grinding our way north

The closer we get to the open waters in the north, the harder it becomes. 

Exhausted by that game… we stopped the boat.

Two hours later, exhausted by that game and not knowing for how long and how far we have to play with so much ice, we stopped the boat.  Time to get a bird view of the surroundings and so up we send our drone. Ten minutes later, the bird is back on board.  Its diagnostic is not encouraging.  For now, and as far as its electronic eyes can detect , there is no lane of open water close by.  Poring over our charts and combining maritime and aerial information, we conclude that we still have easily another 10 to 12 miles of this ice-field  before the promised open water.

Suddenly , the content of a recent meeting flashes in my mind . I ask my partner:

 « Eric, do you remember the mooring this French kayaker guide speaks about in Ilulissat? »

Exactly, where it sits is difficult to figure now.  It has to be somewhere close. Localizing  the buoy , with one single shot, we can get us two birds:

first, a safe anchorage for the night,

second an even more attractive option:  close to the mooring, just on the other side of a mountain, this guide promised open waters.  For what I remembered from the meeting, this buoy is no more than a few miles away.  Why not send the drone again in a scouting mission for this missing mooring? And out our bird goes again. Returning from its flight , we carefully analyse the computerized pictures taken by our machine.  Yes, close to us, an attractive option exists around this elusive mooring.  A better alternative toward the open water than the next harrowing 10 to 12 miles offered by our encumbered ice-field.

A short cut.. not without risks!

It’s a short cut and not without risks. Our chart shows a deep but narrow canal about 200 to 300 hundred feet wide. 

A huge iceberg is guarding  the entrance…

With an added important feature not shown on our map but brought to us by our bird: guarding the entrance sits a huge iceberg.  A closer scrutiny and we conclude that we have enough room to squeeze Breskell in the canal without disturbing the sleeping giant.  So yes, we can manage the risks and reap great rewards in return.  

To reach this promising  mooring, we have to play with some more ice for now. Eric, again, calls the shot from the bow: to the right, to the left, straight ahead, 10 degrees to port.  Carefully, I apply his radioed instructions on the wheel of Breskell. Poor boat.  It’s probably the first time she got so much contradictory information in so short notices. Until now, she was doing her parts without much fuss. 

Suddenly « bang »!  Sure,  Eric yelled to stop.  Sorry for that Breskell. The brakes on a 50 feet boat are not responding exactly like those in a car. They need more room and much more time to comply with the captain orders.  Too late. 

After « walking the ice », I now made Breskell
climb on it!

After « walking the ice », I now made Breskell climb on it!  Not sure, if she really enjoyed the jump.  This chunk was too huge and too thick to crush by the weight of the hull.    Still disapproving of the climb and not without a few moaning, the boat slides slowly backwards waiting patiently for us to try a better option than escalating the ice-field. 

If you cannot break it.. back off!

Backing up, I find a lane of free water around this huge and stubborn icy  platform.  After some more « right, left and straight-on » we get at the entrance of our narrow passage in front of « Samlle Sund ».  Our mooring waits farther down there.  After getting in, we accelerate, 3, 4, 5 and even 6 knots as the ice, now, clears up. 

Even a tent…

Getting around several more islands, we reach later a beautiful protected anchorage into a small bay with even a tent pitched right on the beach front.   Finally, no need for a mooring.  The bottom is good, the anchor holds pretty well.  Now, we can rest for a while without drifting around. 

And open water lays close by.  

A reassuring thought just before drifting again this time only to sleep.

More to follow..