On August 16th, things look better . First, our friend Jessy, one of the two nice Arctic Bay policemen who greeted us during our clearance in Nunavut, visits Breskell today.
We make him feel really welcome on board. He had never been invited on a sailboat before. He discovers our floating home, our living quarters and gets a glimpse of what life on a sailboat looks like at anchor.
And then Dominic, already the winner of an award for his 2017 documentary filmed on Breskell about « Disko bay » , shows him the “teaser” done during our first meeting with icebergs and polar bears.
He enjoyed it so much that he was like a kid playing with a new toy when he saw all the professional equipment used by our filmmakers to produce it. He later offers his house to do our laundry and have a shower.
At that time, our outboard motor gives us some hard time; recalcitrant to start this “kicker” and running rough! I bring it back on deck to work on it, probably some dirt plugging the gas line. I remove and open the carburetor. And true, I find a lot of dirt clogging the inside of the bowl. Could not think of a better way to clean it than to blow it with my mouth. Not the best tasting choice, not the best working idea, but it worked! Parts back together, and again in the water, the outboard runs well again.
To regenerate my taste buds out of their fuel poisoning, a well deserved fresh beer was needed to celebrate this achievement.
Now, the steady red signal at the entrance of the passage starts fading. A south wind blew hard the last night. We don’t swing much at anchor on our 50 feet home. “Morgane” , much smaller at 34 feet, takes off in the middle of the night to get some more shelter from the wind and waves on the other side of the bay. They return this morning to anchor close to Breskell. Yesterday was nice and sunny. Today is another usual summer day in the Arctic. It’s is foggy, rainy and cold. The weather forecast predicts even some snow expected during the afternoon. Normal arctic weather pattern. With this summer snow, the first good news finally shows up. It’s closely associated with this morning ice-chart. Ice melts and moves fast out of our way. After waiting for so long, it’s the talk of the week among my crew on Breskell. In the harbor, every other sailor gets pretty enthusiastic.
Finally, a serious chance materializes !
We are going to make it! Cambridge Bay, or “Ikaluktutiak” with its native name, is our last anchorage before the celebrated Passage.
It awaits, close to the West Channel . Quite far away still an easygoing ride with the clearing up of the ice.
After Cambridge, there is no backing up.
We would chase our dreams to the other side and far beyond: Beaufort sea, Arctic Ocean, sea of Chukchi, Bering strait, Aleutian Islands, gulf of Alaska. Mythical territories at one extremity of the earth, they fascinated generations of sailors trying to discover another way to sail west. Many of them lost their life in there quest. Our sailing predecessors had names like Cook or Bering. Giant sailors among the giant mariners who, even today, inspire awe and modesty to all seafarers who venture in these unforgiving waters. How delightful to follow landmarks left with these ancestors on such remote lands.
Signal blinking again. Not red anymore, not green yet… Ice is moving fast, boats also. Restlessness increases all around. I do not know what decision “Balthazar”, close to the entrance, reached. “Chaman” wants to go. They move and anchor close to us. They receive news from boats still in Cuming inlet and plan to share with us this information. The “dreamer community” shows a great state of agitation and cooperation.
Lot of actions on Breskell today. I clean the immaculate deck another time, move objects here and there to the same location, adjust instruments that don’t need to be corrected, read information I already know. Enough to stay busy and to forget that all we require is a flashing green light opening “our” North West entrance. It rains all afternoon. We stay inside doing computer works or watching movies. The wind blows most of the day. A very cold day common in the arctic when it rains. “Morgane” moves again to find shelter on the opposite side of the bay. They feel safer there. Finally, the wind was not as strong as predicted .
Nothing to compare with our stormy “night” when Breskell was straining on her chain, when our anchor dragged and we left the harbor in a hurry. On the contrary, like babies in a cradle, the nice rolling of Breskell induces sleep in each of us. Ice slowly melts. Sadly, nothing special happens.
When you cannot “fight or flight”, scientists working on the human brain describe this “waiting in tension” as the worst possible scenario for animals and humans alike. We are not programmed to resist long in that context. Things need to be done to get out of it. But what ? Our goal is clear: we sailed this far north to do the North West Passage. To do it now. We fight for it successfully, but we cannot struggle anymore. Flight south so close to our own summit? No one wants to picture that. In laboratory, animals in such disturbing settings develop all sorts of serious diseases. Humans in similar situations are suspected to develop the same illnesses.
For now, my crew grows only restless . Nothing really serious. As a captain, I am the master and commander of this ship. Master after god they said. Sadly, ice doesn’t care much about such human or divine prerogatives.
Three boats share today our anchorage. “ Morgane” our small steel boat, “Sauvage” and “Chaman”. You are going to learn more about these last arrivals after we get acquainted. Just the look of their boat and you already know that they are all serious about the sailing’ business .
One, “Sauvage” , “owned and crewed by the Wattrelot family is a comfortable yacht of 60 feet, built for high latitudes and Trade Winds…” What impressive charters they have done! If you want to live your dreams, just look at them in their world wandering.
The other one, “Chaman” came from Antibes, in the Mediterranean sunny southern part of France, sailing straight to Nuuk in Greenland. They picked up a crew here and jumped to Arctic Bay, just to get stuck, like us, in this rainy and foggy day.
Not much to do except to visit each others, share our dreams, make another hypothesis about the ice movements and wait ! For how long? That’s the question!