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September 14 2005

Idlewild Log Entries

August 12, 2006
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November 29, 2005
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October 1, 2005
September 27 2005
September 14 2005
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September 11 2005
September 10 2005
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June 11 2005
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April 14 2005
March 2005
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July 2003

On September 9, ice has  been holding us now since Sept 2.  Yesterday continued to tighten ice around us.  We got squeezed up on top a couple times and slowly fell off.  No exaggerated list at any time but as the boat would slide up each time it would do it in jerks that sounded very loud as though someone was pounding on the hull with a very large hammer.  The first time this happened  I slept through it and the second time Brad did.  At 14:00 yesterday our friends in 'Fine Tolerance'  decided to temporarily abandon their ship and come to ours as their boat was listing seriously and they didn't want to spend the night there.  It was fortunate they came when they did as we were a quarter mile apart, and the boats then moved farther apart.  They were only able come about 100 yards across the ice until they came to an open lead.  We had decided to assist them when they announced their plan to come over and three of our boys Kevin, Brian & Jason dragged our dinghy ‘Sidekick’ over the ice and had to cross 3 separate leads to get to them.  It was nice to have them safely on board.

 

This was a relaxing period in the ice but after 3 hours it started to tighten again and we were pushed up on a 70 foot diameter floe leaving us at a 10 degree list.  Went a good distance on our floating dry dock.  At 03:00 September 9 we found ourselves 50 yards from shore with a big Polar Bear 15 feet away and the boat not moving.  The bear moved 200 yards away and went to sleep on the ice. 'Fine Tolerance' was not in sight.  At 08:00 we started slowly moving and increased to a maximum of 2.3 kts.  We drifted around some Islands and were completely surprised to see when 'Fine Tolerance' had come around the other side of the Island and drifted near us. The water opened to about 5 tenths but we couldn’t control where we went because we are still marooned on our floating Island.  Our speed slowed in the afternoon as the ice again started to pile up.  The Coast Guard icebreaker 'Sir Wilfred Laurier had contacted us through the day and about 14:00 sent his helicopter to check us and take pictures of both boats as well as check the ice in the area.  The CG boat didn't get here until 21:00. They checked on 'Fine Tolerance' before coming over to us.  By this time the ice had closed in around us.  They carefully and very skillfully assisted in getting us off the ice flow then went to try find the ‘Fine Tolerance’ (FT).

 

Sept. 10 was another exciting day.  At 03:30 Kevin called the ‘Laurier’ (SWL) and explained we were drifting toward an Island and shallower water.  Their line had broken towing FT, which now has a broken prop, so they immediately came to our aid.  They loosened ice as good as possible around us and we got in behind them closely.  Following the Ice breaker can wreck your boat as huge chunks can spin out from under the boat at you.  Also a chunk can easily push us aside and then their prop wash turns us broadside, new pieces come in and it is very difficult to get back in following position.  The SWL was concerned as we were drifting to shallower water and said at one point that this may be our last attempt, but their deck crew was able to position a large fender in front of us and we would push against them at full power.  We still got pushed off to one side or the other many more times, but eventually the ice thinned.  The ice was drifting toward the Island at 0.7 kts so we lost what we gained many times before we got up to looser and thinner ice.  After we gained about 4 miles the ice was thin enough that we were able to go on our own and the SWL went back to find FT.  She had drifted between the Islands to thinner ice and they were able to tie on again and came up to the position of Jotun Arctic (YA) and Cloud Nine (C9) after midnight.  We had proceeded ahead past YA and C9 to anchor at Coutts Island.  Ben, Brian, Troy & Kevin climbed the mountain and the ice was probably passable to Bellot Strait.  Next  morning Kevin, Brad, Brian & Jason went up again to check ice at 04:30 and it was better.  We checked with SWL to see what they would like us to do and they asked us to come back to their position near C9 and YA as we might be able to provide some assistance.  C9 and YA were unable to exit their bay at this time.  SWL was justifiably concerned about the depth and would move ahead a short distance, back up, measure depth with a lead line and repeat until they got in to release the 2 boats.  C9, YA and us rafted up and met each other while SWL went to get FT in tow again.  They called at 14:00 for us to come to their position 4 miles SW and follow them to Wrottesly Bay to wait out a coming gail.  It was dark and blowing and snowing and we headed into an uncharted narrow fjord to try to find a shallow spot away from the cliffs to anchor.  Not fun but we found a spot at 55 feet.  One man on anchor watch. 

Sept 11 Brad called at 02:45 after 2 hours sleep to say bilge alarm ringing in the forward cabin so lift floorboards and check.  Water slowly coming in and bilge pump frozen to the floor.  Kevin’s watch at 03:00 so he bail bilge into the sink and I went to bed.  In the morning Brian and I thawed out the bilge pump and got it working and find the source of the water.  We had drained the forward ballast tanks but they had ice and this fjord has slightly warmer water so that was melting and running into the bilge.  Troy lit the water heater and Jason put a hose to the fresh water tanks and we circulated hot water until they were warm to try to keep everything in the hold from freezing.  Blizzard most of the day.  Phone Peter Simotiuk our diligent and helpful radio net operator and provide an update of our happenings as our SSB propagation is no good just now.  I’m thankful again that Alice insisted I get a Sat. phone.

Sept 12 Kevin called me at 00:30 that anchor is dragging.  35 kts and little to no visibility  and our fjord is narrow.  I tried to wait and see if it would hold where it was but it kept dragging.  It’s a 110 pound Bruce and never drug before even on the river with wheels on and 3 jet boats tied on.  No choice pick her up and start circling up and down the fjord in high winds.  Kevin soon found a comfort level and it worked good.  Wind subsided a bit at 08:00 so we went out into the bay and called the SWL for a weather update.   Ice solid from Wrottesley Bay to Coutts Island so no go today but winds to change to NE so maybe it will improve.  We went back up the fjord farther than before as it cleared off and wind dropped.  A river coming in at the top and lovely anchorage, beautiful in 25’ and lots of room (in daylight).  A polar bear was guarding a caribou hide, but left when we took the dinghy over to him.  Walked up the river and counted about 50 tent circles of rocks which indicated the char fishing is probably good.  SWL called for us to go for supper so we went out there but wind up again.  We got laundry done and a great supper.  We met more people and had a very pleasant visit.  Back at our fjord, 5 miles from the bay anchoring wasn’t as simple with zero visibility and 25 kt wind.  Somehow now the anchorage seems very small.

Sept. 13 our lucky day.  SWL called at 07:30 to say the Strait is open and we are going.  The larger Ice Breaker, ‘Louis St Laurent’ (Louis) came in Sept 11 on way from Cambridge to Labrador so he is going to come and help assure safe passage.  The day went well with all boats in single file, Louis, SWL, FT in tow. C9, YA and us in the back.  Only 5 kts because this is maximum for some boats.  Tides not running in our favor and we were the only boat not in tow that hadn’t been through here before.  I was hesitant to go through at night, but we did and we had some fierce currents at and near Magpie Rock, a notorious place.  We passed the most northerly place in continental North America, Zenith Point at 21:30 and exited Bellot Strait at 22:30.  We are all very pleased and excited.  The other boats all anchor at Depot Bay but we continue on.  Two men per watch, clear night and we could spot bergs and evade them.  Sept 14 good visibility but winds expected to 35 kts.

 
We had based our plan of going into the ice on sound information of ice
conditions, how the ice was changing and a favorable weather forecast.  In hind sight we think there was a good likelihood of making it through unassisted, but it would have been foolhardy to turn down the offer of help.  And from a rescuers position it is better to be early than late.  We thank the Captain and crew of the ‘Sir Wilfred Laurier’, they were very competent and professional and provided congeniality far beyond their duty.