Victoria Strait Expedition team rescues trapped boat from ice!!!
Posted by Nick Walker in Franklin Expedition on Sunday, August 31, 2014
“Gjoa, we’re looking around on this ice, and we’d like to know if you have bear bangers and a firearm on board. Over.”
“Uh, bear bangers, but no firearm, Voyager!”
“OK, Gjoa, we’re going to see how close we can get to you. We want to try to nudge some of this heavy ice out of your way. Over.”
That wasn’t the first exchange between the crew of One Ocean Expedition’s 117-metre Voyager and the small alloy sloop Gjoa, sailed by Glen and Ann Bainbridge of Toronto, but it might have been the most tense. And it launched a few hours of true Arctic drama that tied in everything from a sudden envelopment by heavy sea ice to prowling polar bears. Only scurvy may have been missing.
It began with the combination of rising tides and swirling currents at the western exit of Bellot Strait, south of Somerset Island in Canada’s Arctic, where the strait’s west-rushing waters meet those flowing south through Peele Sound. The confluence is known for its vortex currents and its tendency to pull in ice from all directions. “On our charts there’s a warning to beware of this spot,” says Aaron Lawton, One Ocean’s Expedition Leader and director of operations.
The main search zone of the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition to find Sir John Franklin’s ships Erebus and Terror is Arctic Ocean floor northwest of King William Island. To reach it, the Voyager — with Royal Canadian Geographical Society members, its expedition partners and other cruise-goers on board — sailed south through Prince Regent Inlet, and by August 29 was heading west into 35-kilometre Bellot Strait, where ocean currents move at a swift nine knots (about 17 kilometres per hour). After lingering near the east entrance to Bellot until the tide rose around 8 a.m., the polar cruiser slipped through, passing muskox, polar bears, cliff-side colonies of Thayers gulls and Zenith Point, the northernmost jut of mainland North America.
The Gjoa and its two-person crew, meanwhile, had made the same transit earlier that morning, destination Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, and had just radioed in (likely to NORDREG, the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone) from the west side of the passage to report their location.
“It all looked clear,” Glen would later say from his deck, “and within about 30 seconds we were trapped.”
In the last few kilometres of Bellot Strait, the crew on Voyager’s bridge — and everyone else on the expedition, for that matter — became more and more intrigued by the tiny sloop with sails tied down, beset and off kilter in the middle of several kilometers of tightly packed ice straight ahead.
“It’s easy to sit up here and say, ‘How did they get in there?’ ” says Ted Kennedy, ice pilot on the Voyager. “But when you’re only a few feet off the water you can’t see past the floe in front of you.”
When a voice called out “Polar bear at two o’clock!” every pair of binoculars and spotting scope on deck was out at once. Not one, but two hale-and-hearty-looking bears were padding within a few hundred metres on each side of the Gjoa “These folks are already not going to get out of the ice by themselves,” said Lawton, relaying messages from the bridge to all watching from the bow. “And we’re a bit worried because one of these bears is slowly making its way toward them. The deck of that boat is barely higher than those animals are on all fours.”
For the next half hour the Voyager crawled through the heavy ice, using its bow thrusters and applying differential power to its two engines to steer, with rudders streamed astern so they weren’t damaged. Although the ice was first-year, and already broken into large chunks, much of it was more than two-metres thick — heavier than the vessel (which is ice strengthened but not an ice breaker) would normally ever sail through. But as Lawton jokes, “Our Captain Ionin’s touch is very gentle.”¬
Some of the crew started debating whether a 45-70 or 30-06 rifle would be most effective in the event of a polar bear attack on the Gjoa. As if on cue, the bolder of the bears, on the starboard side, turned and ambled away across the ice patch.
In minutes the tight ice around the little boat had been swept away by the Voyager’s hull, and without taking damage the Gjoa was able to spin around and fall in behind the larger ship, where it was tied on and towed out of the ice pack, away from polar bears and dodgy currents. After glancing off a few ice floes hard enough to leave paint streaks, she was released into open water to cheers, waving and great relief (with a few sheepish looks seen on the Gjoa).
It was a happy ending, but still a pointed reminder that for all our growing familiarity with the Arctic and modern conveniences — better and better bathymetric charting, GPS technology and frequent updates from the Canadian Ice Service — we can still be at the mercy of the natural forces that also killed or made powerless some of the best-equipped Arctic explorers.
“We’re on a mission, but it doesn’t matter what your goal is,” explains Lawton, “whether you’re a tourist ship or a cargo vessel. Everything gets put aside and you provide assistance to another mariner in distress.”
For more information, updates and other Franklin content, follow @CanGeo and @RCGS_SGRC on Twitter.
WellFound Team member gone cruising…
Bill Regan – a valued member of the WellFound Yachts team- and his lovely wife Trisha, have spent the last few months cruising the Bahamas and more recently up the Florida coast through Georgia on their way to Charleston, SC.
They have been keeping us up to date on their adventures with a very informative blog. I’m sure you will all find it an enjoyable read… if you see them on their travels, stop and say hello!
Some excerpts are posted here, but a complete account of the adventures can be found at: http://sailingwanderer.com/
“There are many words you could use when describing the Berry Islands. Remote. Beautiful. Desolate. Uninhabited. Pristine. Primordial.
They are a small chain of islands off the beaten path of most cruising boats. Of those that do venture there, many just make a quick layover at Hoffman’s Cay to see the blue hole that is there. We’ve spent the past two weeks on Wanderer exploring parts of these islands including the aforementioned blue hole, some amazing beaches, snorkeling small coral gardens in the cuts between the islets, and hiking up a jungle like path to a bluff with some of the most breathtaking vistas we’ve seen.”
“Transiting from the Berry Islands to the Abacos, we decided to head for the Bight of Abaco. Why? It’s off the beaten path and there are anchorages along the way that don’t require as long of a passage, which is important when you have an older dog who pretty much refuses to use his AstroTurf mat on board.”
“The Bight of Abaco is truly a beautiful place. It’s like the Florida Keys and NY’s Adirondack Mountains had a bastard child. There are tall pine trees and cliffs that give way to limestone rock beaches dotted with palmettos and mangroves.”
“Hope Town is a very special place that reminded us of other places that we love to visit. It’s like taking one part Fire Island, one part Key West, sprinkling in some Newport (for New England charm), with a dash of Annapolis and you come up with Hope Town.”
“Since then we’ve enjoyed the facilities at Treasure Cay even though we are anchored out, for only $10 we can use the showers, pool, walk the grounds, and hang out on the amazing and probably nicest beach we’ve seen in the Bahamas. Wide, powder soft, white sand with turquoise water that stretches in a big half moon shape for miles, well, it’s postcard material.”
“We opted to stay at anchor in the flats north of West End rather than patronize the aforementioned marina. It wasn’t a bad place to be really, and we did find out that the holding ground was very good for our anchor as we sat out not one, but two 40+ knot squalls there.
Frenchman Sails around the world on a Beach Cat
Are you aware of this:
You don’t need to live in Florida, as our cruising grounds are open to the world, your help will not be questioned.
Our rights to anchor freely are being questioned and tampered with.
Some ocean front home owners are angered by sailors anchoring near their homes. Let me put this in perspective. Our waters are naturally shallow. So shallow that boats can not get close enough to a home to be a nuisance. We already have laws that restrict boat anchoring near bridges, canals, channels (where the homes are), and near our coral reefs etc. Also in Florida we have protected waters known as the Inter-Coastal Water Way. The ICW extends the length of the east coast and may sailors use it traveling up and down the country, and they will anchor for the night. In heavily used areas we have free pump out services to keep the waters clean and safe. All of this is currently regulated. Sailors typically are ecologists and take necessary steps to protect our seas.
Please take a couple of minutes and sign the petition attached… thank you
Delivery of Havana 40 Motor Yacht from Key Largo to Ft Lauderdale Sept.13, 2011
“Quick jaunt on a Havana Power Cat.”
Last week I had the pleasure of helping the owner of Cruiser Cats of South Africa deliver his new Havana Fly bridge 38/40 up the coast to Ft Lauderdale. She was going to Ft Lauderdale to have her hard top installed before being delivered up the coast to Annapolis for the Fall Boat Show. If the trip up the coast is anything like our little jaunt, it will be both fast and effortless!
We are seeing more and more of these larger power cats and it is no secret that they are becoming more popular these last few years, It’s easy to see why! The well thought-out Havana interior is not just roomy but very practical. She has lots of room for two or even three couples to both enjoy each others company or find some space away from others for some private, quiet time. Now 40 feet is by no means a big boat, but on board the Havana, there is plenty of room for living and storage.
Now, performance is where the catamaran hulls and the Havana in particular really stand out! This yacht goes through the water effortlessly! On most boats of this size you can feel the boat pushing at the water before she even thinks about getting onto a plane. Not the Havana! The acceleration is so smooth you can’t feel any transition at all. As we left the harbor in Key Largo, she effortlessly increased speed from 6 knots going down the channel to 20 knots without skipping a beat.
This model has the larger 260hp Yanmars and I would have to say that they are a really great choice. Sure you can lop along at 8 to 10 knots burning only a few gallons an hour, but sometimes you just want to arrive before sunset and these very quiet power plants will push the Havana along at 20 knots while only burning 10 gallons each, every hour. That would be an average of 1 gallon per mile witch is pretty good fuel economy for a boat of this size.