I had an interesting watch this morning. Just crawled out of bed, rocking and rolling getting ready. I even put my second thermals on, checked the log to see what was happening. clipped on before leaving the saloon, and clipped on behind the wheel.
Just sitting down, put my leg up for stability and a wave came across the boat. Didn’t see it or hear it. For a fraction of a second, my whole body was under water, and it was only my leg stopping me going out of the side, and hopefully my tether would have stopped me going over completely.
I actually had a mouth full of sea water which was novel. Nikolai thought it was hilarious. I’m just very pleased it was me and not one of the lighter ladies.
Here’s brief video showing some slightly smaller waves:
Their live tracking map reveals that they have passed Ostrov Troynoy and are now heading east in the general direction of the Nordenskiöld Archipelago:
The latest sea ice map of the north eastern Kara Sea reveals some open water in the Vilkitsky Strait, but as yet no way through for a small yacht like Northabout:
A bit further afield the University of Hamburg’s AMSR2 imagery reveals the current ice conditions along the rest of the Northern Sea Route:
All in all it doesn’t look as though Northabout’s crew will beaming videos back to us from the Laptev Sea over the next few days, but never say “never” in the Arctic!
Somewhat tongue in cheek David Hempleman-Adams reports from the Kara Sea:
N76 20 E083 28 Pressure 998 water temp 4 outside temp 5 cloud 6/8 sea state 3 winds 15 knots.
Making steady progress east. I always love it when we click over degree of longitude. Of course, they are pretty close together up here. ( I have been dreaming of the 180 long), for weeks.
The winds will slowly take us north east today and tomorrow. Hopefully find our island with the Palm trees and wait for the Ice to break up. Looking forward to seeing an Ice update today and see if this storm has changed anything. Fingers crossed.
The Vilkitsky Strait is covered in thick clouds this morning, so here once again is the view from on high using passive microwaves:
Today’s sea ice update is that concentration in the Nordenskiöld Archipelago and Vilkitsky Strait seems to be falling fast. Visual confirmation of that is eagerly awaited.
10 days out of Murmansk, and there’s visual confirmation of some sea ice at long last! An extract from today’s Polar Ocean Challenge update:
Making steady progress East. We had the latest ice charts for the Vilkitskogo straight. Still blocked and the Laptev still blocked, but big changes from the last set of charts, and encouraging.
Nikolai and Dennis are having bets. Nikolai thinks it will be free on his birthday, the 9th Aug, and Dennis on his, 6th Aug . Either way, would mean a few days rest. We are heading for a small sheltered Island. Different to the first choice, as the ice from the North has come down and blocked it, so trying for another Island closer to shore and closer to the straight. So if anything dramatic changed quickly, we would be close to react. Ie, A strong southerly taking the ice from the shore.
Saw our first ICE today on my watch, just an hour ago. What is slightly worrying, it didn’t show up on the Radar. It’s probably good for the big icebergs, but not low ice in the water. I think we will see a lot more of that before the trip is out. You can’t beat that old eyeball.
In a brief update this morning the crew of Northabout report they are:
Anchored! for rest repairs and to wait for favourable ice conditions in the NE passage and for the new ice charts. Proper shipslog update coming later with some photos (which take ages to upload) But for now we’re getting a bit of a rest & having a cuppa.
They have found some shelter in the convoluted coastline of Ostrov Pilota Makhotkina, just off the shores of Siberia and within striking distance of their exit from the Kara Sea:
As Reggie points out below, the sea ice in the Vilkitsky Strait broke up remarkably early this year. Here’s his view from June 23rd:
and if you watch our latest Northern Sea Route animation carefully you’ll note that the ice was already mobile at the beginning of June:
In actual fact the Vilkitsky Strait never became blocked with land-fast ice last winter. Compare this ice chart from the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute for May 4th 2016:
with this one from July 2nd 2013:
Three years ago the island where Northabout is now sheltering was still encased in land fast ice at the beginning of July, as was the Vilkitsky Strait itself. By August 25th when the yacht Tara passed around Cape Chelyuskin into the Laptev Sea on her own Polar circumnavigation the Strait looked like this:
The latest video from the crew of Northabout reveals them anchoring off Ostrov Pilota Makhotkina:
The skies have cleared over the Vilkitsky Strait this morning! Here’s a “false colour” image from the MODIS instrument aboard the Aqua satellite:
On “true colour” images sea ice looks white, and so do clouds. Using a different set of wavelengths reveals the ice in pale blue, with the clouds still white. Northabout remains anchored, and it’s easy to see why!
The latest AARI ice charts are out, but don’t reveal a way through to the Laptev Sea for Northabout just yet:
Here’s a fairly cloud free satellite image of what lies ahead:
The crew of Northabout report that some of that ice has made its way into their anchorage:
Whilst at anchor we have a respite from our normal watch routine and it is replaced with Anchor Watch, which is an hour and half slot, mine is from 12.30am to 2am. The other crew and Northabout are in a deep slumber, perfect quiet interspersed with gentle snoring from contented crew! Last night was an exception, as the wind picked up and changed direction, resulting in some bits of drifting ice coming into the bay, ‘crashing’ into the boat at about 4am, giving all the crew an alarming wake up call. There was no danger, it was simply the deafening noise of ice and aluminium in the still of the night! Dennis was soon on the job with the ice poles, keeping all at bay!
As Bill points out below, Northabout is now heading in the direction of Vilkitsky Strait:
Perhaps they’ve had an early look at the latest AARI ice charts of the Laptev Sea? The Northern Sea Route Administration web site is still displaying the ones from August 5th, which showed the route blocked by 9/10 ice coverage in places:
Satellite imagery at visual frequencies is rather cloudy again today:
but there’s still no obvious way through to the East Siberian Sea that I can see.
Northabout has just rounded Cape Chelyuskin and is now heading into the Laptev Sea!
Here’s the new ice chart for the Laptev Sea:
A navigable strip does seem to be opening up around the coast, but there’s still a stubborn patch of 9/10 concentration sea ice blocking Northabout’s way.
Previous Polar Ocean Challenge articles: