Aug 12 19:30 UTC (local time 02:30 Aug 13) At present moored alongside a ‘Stamukha’ sounding like the drink Sambucca ! N 76 43.2 E110 07.0
Well 10 mins after sending last nights blog, it tempted fate, the ice started to converge and get thicker, we slowly made our way closer to the shore, we even lifted the retractable keel, to get closer to the shore, but eventually the lead petered out.
We passed a disused Polar Station, from a bygone age. Old huts, antennas and rusty barrels all around the shore, what a remote place to spend the winter. Our Island was in sight, with a large tall marker in the far distance. So close but so far. Having poured over the ice charts and Sat Photo, if only we could get to E111 Degrees, our route would be free as far as Bristol. We wriggled around each patch of ice, backwards and forwards. Dennis was up the mast trying to find a route. It was too windy for the drone, and Ben was in bed. Slowly the ice all closed in. We must have tried every single option three times. Just 3 miles, but it could have been 300 miles.
B****r,B*******s, B*******s, and a Russian B*****t,
The wind and sea state were really picking up. Our options were few. Wind and tide against us, really shallow water of 5m , small bergy bits in the water to miss. NO shelter whatsoever. Do we make our way back the 40 miles where we knew a good anchor spot ? At this rate it would take us 11 hours, using up precious diesel. In the end a nice large floe came into sight, so we gingerly approached, and my comrades made the boat secure. It would protect us from the sea state like a pontoon, and protect us from the mass of ice coming our way. My watch finishes at 12 and I got into my pit at 3.30am.
To our surprise, the floe was moving at 1.3 knots, so up again to move. The strong winds were driving huge belts of pack ice our way, we didn’t want to be caught up against the shore. So, off towards our anchorage, and then a nice large ‘Stamukha’ appeared. Russian for ice that has grounded on the bottom, so not moving. Another mooring. This time it felt safe, so a good couple of hours sleep,
The ice around the Polar station had all been driven away in the strong winds of the night, maybe we could get to the Island, Andreya, girls at the helm, off they went. Again, stopped by the thick ice. Retreat to our Stamukha. New ice charts in tonight, really rubbish, and in fact worse than the last ones. The coast still stopping us, but we have a massive storm coming our way. 35 knot winds with gusts of 50 predicted. It should break the ice up though. My sleepless nights have gone into sleepless days as well, what if permutations of every kind. One thing for sure, I can understand why the Russians drink so much !