Playing on an Iceberg and Resolute

After leaving Croker Bay we decided to pull over and play on an Iceberg. We found a Monster berg and pulled the scout up to it. Everybody jumped off and instantly became kids. It looked like a perfect floating winter playground. Guests and crew all started to climb and play on the Ice.  After some time, we decided to back Fortrus up to the berg so that everybody could step off and on to the swim platform. Pretty cool…

Photo by Natasha Kovalenko

Photo by Levi Bell.

We anchored that night at Beechy Island.  We went ashore to see the gravesites of Franklin’s expedition. We all gave thanks to the explorers that paved the way through the NW passage. It’s unbeleivable to imagine what it would have been like to be stranded there. Noddy and Erik ran into an Arctic Hare on the island and got a few great photos. We also saw a fox running around on Beechy the next day. Other than the animals, the island has a very sober feeling about it.

The weather changed over night. The pressure dropped more than 16 mb and the seas became a short six feet. The winds lasted the entire 60NM to Resolute where we needed to be to pick up the Australian boys.  Our voyage is now definitely starting to feel like an adventure.

Photo by Charlie Howden.

Photo by Charlie Howden.

Michael was running a little low on fresh fruit and veg. We had my parents, Beth and Brian pack up some supplies and meet up with the boys on their way through Ottawa. The four made it through some thick fog and into Resolute. Michael was very relieved to receive some much needed fresh supplies. There isn’t much in the way of fresh vegetables or fruit up here.

With the change in weather, the ice decided to shift and block our way south. We contacted the Canadian Coast Guard to discuss the situation with the ice. They agreed with our plan. We will hang out up here for a couple of days and wait for the ice to dissipate before heading south. Let’s hope the ice cooperates with our plan.

Photo by Natasha Kovalenko.

Now that we have all the guests on board and a couple of days in hand, we’ve decided to head a little further north. The snow has been coming down hard and the boats brow is now covered in Ice.  The guests were having a good time taking photos in the snow.

We spoke to a few locals in Resolute and they put us on to a pod of Baluga Whales. Very cool white whales.

The hope tomorrow is to make it all the way to 80 degrees north. We’ll try to make it all the way up to the pack Ice.

Photo by Natasha Kovalenko.

Artic Hare. Photo by Erik Aubry.

 

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It just gets better and better!!!!

Polar Bears! Photo by: Paul McDonald

Just when we though it couldn’t get any better. We find a polar bear riding an Iceberg in the middle of the Labrador Sea.  Absolutely Amazing!!!

Polar Bear. Photo by: Paul McDonald


Clearing the Straits of Belle Isle

We’ve now cleared the Straights of Belle Isle. Looks like we just made it through in time. Twenty four hours from now brings 35 knot winds and short 12 ft seas.

We’re heading into some serious fog as we start our three day trek across the Labrador Sea. The winds are 25 knots and the seas are starting to freshen up. The big wind and bumps should stay behind us. We’ve got a little current running so we’ll only be able to average 8 knots till we reach the warm northern current that runs north along the west coast of Greenland. We’re hoping for a blistering 10 knots close to the shore.

The outside air temperature is down to 52 degrees and the water temp has dropped into the low sixties.

The whales and dophins have been all around us. Absolutely amazing…

We are not expecting to see another boat for the next three days. The coast of Greenland will be a welcome sight.

Photo by: Erik Aubry coming around Newfoundland

Photo by: Erik Aubry coming around Newfoundland


Arriving into Halifax

Halifax is a great town. It has a ton of great pubs, nice restaurants and it’s full of helpful friendly people. The buildings are old, beautiful and the streets are super clean. The Fortrus crew had a great time.

Brian from Premier Marine helped us organize everything that needed to be accomplished in such short time.  We discarded, shopped, loaded, and bunkered. Fortrus is now fully loaded and sitting very deep in the water. Sarah from the Maritime Summit Shop helped us with our cold weather gear. The staff was extremely helpful and had everything organized and ready for us to pick up as soon as we hit tall ship quay.

We left Halifax on the morning of August 9th. It is now day two of the crossing and with the long range weather looking good, we’ve decided to do a straight shot to Nuuk Greenland. It’s a 1300NM run that will take us around Newfoundland, through the straights of Belle Isle and up Iceberg alley.

We had another great dolphin send off and we’ve seen a few whales that also seemed to wish us a safe trip.

From this point on, everything becomes unfamiliar and extremely exciting. We’re all looking forward to see the first sign of Ice.

Fortrus arriving into Halifax

Fortrus At Work


Whale Spotting on the Way to Halifax

The seas have been flat calm and we had the opportunity to see more whales on the way to Halifax. This time we got to see some Humpbacks. They didn’t come too close but it’s always a welcome and exciting sight.

As usual, the fog came in thick coming around Nova Scotia. The bow completely disappeared as the fog took on the consistency of Pea Soup. The burgee pole that stands just 25ft from the bridge window was no longer visible. Fortrus had her Fog Horn sounding as we weaved through small fishing boats just a few hundred meters around us. We never even saw a light.

On the morning of August 6th, we’re hoping that the fog lifts before we start our entrance into Halifax.


Boston Harbor: Last U.S. Port Before the NW Passage

Fortrus arrived into Boston Harbor, which will be her last U.S. port of call before the NW passage. We had a great time exploring the coasts of New England and Massachusetts. Our guests for this leg of the trip were fantastic, and it was awesome to share this part of the world with such a wonderful group. The greatest highlight of the trip was beautiful flat calm seas that hosted a pod of twenty plus Minke whales. One curious whale swam thirty feet off the port side of Fortrus as we headed north to Provincetown. Michael’s food and the girl’s interiors service made our guests very reluctant to depart Fortrus in Boston. We will definitely miss this group and will try our best to bump into them again once we make it across to the west coast.

With Michael’s food and the girl’s interior services, guests are reluctant to depart Fortrus.
Photo by: Natasha Kovalenko

We now have 370NM between Fortrus and Halifax Canada. That’s where we will spend some time provisioning and getting ready for the north. We will acquire a new freezer that will fit up on the sundeck. This will help Michael with the massive job of provisioning Fortrus for the ride across the Arctic. It will have a secondary purpose of becoming a cold garbage locker once the provisioning has been depleted. We will be removing our dirty oil and taking on clean lube. Fortrus will also be fully toped up with northern diesel to handle the trip. We will definitely have a few very busy days in Halifax, nothing that a few poutines and some Timmy’s will get us through.

Erik, Levi and Scott: testing the sun deck driving station as they leave Boston Harbor.
Photo by: Natasha Kovalenko


Ice Reports

These are the Canadian Ice reports that we will be looking at daily in order to navigate safely through the passage.
I’ve attached charts from June 29th and July 29th to illustrate how the ice recedes. The warmer currents run north up the coast of Greenland and the the colder currents run south down Baffin Island. We will be running up the coast of Greenland before crossing back over to Pond Inlet. 
 
The smaller localized charts give much more detail. Non Ice class vessels like Fortrus can safely navigate in the green areas or 3/10th concentration. 
 
You can upload these charts at: http://ice-glaces.ec.gc.ca
 
We needed to stock up on paper charts as well, so we purchased just over 700 charts for the trip. Admiralty charts for the east coast, Danish Charts for Greenland and U.S. Charts for Alaska. We also made some upgrades to Fortrus by adding VSAT, Iridium, I/R Cameras and a Gyro. We completely serviced all machinery, navigation equipment and stocked up on spare parts and tools.  Additionally, we added a large garbage locker and a gas tank for the tenders, because of the time and distance between stops.  All the crew worked overtime to get the boat ready for this trip.
 
Steve Hubbart from M/Y Indigo sat down with myself and the crew on several occasions to talk about his trip. Steve safely navigated the passage in 2011. He gave us much needed guidance.