Since our last update from Pt Hope we’ve headed north to Barrow, the northern most point in the U.S. We plan on leaving tomorrow, but sadly we’ve decided that from here we’ll be heading back south as opposed to further east. While the ice conditions in the Canadian arctic will probably improve enough to allow a transit of the Northwest Passage later this month, that won’t give us enough time to get the boat somewhere where we could leave it for the winter before Seth has to be back at work September 15th. We both feel that trying to force our way through the passage earlier would simply be unsafe. While it’s disappointing not to see the Canadian arctic, Barrow and the surrounding area has been a great place to explore.
We left Point Hope on July 30th with light southerly winds. Those winds soon increased considerably and we had a fast but very rough passage north. The shallow and straight coastline of northwestern Alaska means there’s no place hide from the weather, so we rode it out to Pt Barrow where, luckily, the winds moderated allowing us to get into Elson lagoon to the north of the town. We spent our first day here recuperating from the passage, and then headed in to explore town.
As it turned out, we met up with friends of friends here who very nicely loaned us their four wheelers (quads) to get to and from the boat (anchored about 5 miles from town) and out into the tundra. We managed to drive the whole rode system (which isn’t very big) spotting huge flocks of migrating birds heading south for the winter along the way (smart birds!). Twice took the boat out to the ice to look for wildlife — once 20 miles NNW and once 50 miles east along the coast. While the wildlife proved elusive, the ice and landscapes were stunning.
From here we’ll head south as far as the weather will allow us, possibly stopping again at Nome or St. Paul if conditions deteriorate. Celeste will spend the winter in Dutch Harbor again. As soon as we’re back to a reliable (if slow) internet connection we’ll be sure to send along photos and, something new for us as of this summer, video (Vioila and Shawn, we shot a video of testing out our 40 E in the sea ice, where, as the cold water slows it down a bit, it did 5 L per hour).
Cheers from Barrow!
Seth and Ellen
Be sure to check on Celestes blog at www.gonefloatabout.com