At the moment we’re tacking back and forth more or less in vain

So we’re now in the middle of the Beaufort Sea.  Point Barrow came and went, The Mother and Denis got off, Johan and The Father got on and we went on our merry way.  Unfortunately though Tuktuyaktuk is only five hundred miles away the wind was right on our nose so we had to go quite a long way north so that we could get the right wind angle to sail to Tuk.  That hasn’t happened.  At the moment we’re tacking back and forth trying more or less in vain to find a position where the mainsail helps rather than hinders us.  At this rate it’s going to take another four days to get there.  In the meantime however I have some washing up,  so I need to leave you now.  I’ll write again when I can, bye.


44 days of ice, 5200miles, 3 polar bears, 3 unsuccessful fishing trips, 3 birthdays, 2 reworkings of time

Hello.  So, the news of the moment is we’ve completed the North East Passage.  It’s taken us forty days lots of ice, five thousand two hundred miles, a polar bear, three unsuccessful fishing trips, three birthdays and two reworkings of the time but we have finally done it.  We crossed the international date line yesterday, or technically this morning, just thirty six hours ago.  Everyone was tired then so it wasn’t celebrated which is a shame.  We crossed it on my half hour on deck so I personally have sailed Northabout to the end of the North East Passage, or, y’know, sort of sat there while auto pilot steered us over.  Credit where it’s due though.  Nikolai and Denis, without them we all would have died five of six times now.  From the past forty days I have learnt enough from and about both of them to know there isn’t anyone I’d rather have on the boat.  I have also learnt that I didn’t bring enough books.  You can never have too many books.  In the past three days we’ve been on the right tack so that whenever a wave come over the bow some water seeps in from the porthole vent and falls onto my bunk.  Whoo.

According to the auto pilot we’ll reach Point Barrow in the next eighteen hours, I can’t wait, I might actually be able to set foot on land for the first time in what feels like years.  At that point The Mother and Denis get off and The Father and Johan get on board.  Johan is a Norwegian skipper, he’s going to be navigator for the North West Passage.  It’ll be nice to have some new faces.  In the meantime I’ve got to have breakfast, I’ll write again once we’re in Barrow.  Bye.

WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! We’re done! We’re done with the North East Passage!

Hello, today I would like to start my blog with a quick word expressing my feelings.  Ahem, WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  We’re done!  We’re done with the North East Passage!  We’re half the world away from home and we’ve finished the North East Passage!  We’ve done it, we’re the first British boat to have done this!  We’re doing eight knots over the ground, we’ll reach Barrow tomorrowish and then we’ll start on the North West and we’re done!  We’re done!  We’re done we’re done we’re done we’re done we’re done we’re done!  I’ll talk more later but the laptop’s almost out of charge so I have to go, We’re done!  YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

We’re over half way there! six o’clock this morning we passed the 180 degree mark and are now in the western hemisphere! WHOOOOOOOO!

We’re over half way there! six o’clock this morning we passed one hundred and eighty degree mark and are now in the western hemisphere!  WHOOOOOOOO!  I’d just come off watch everyone (not me) toasted with a whiskey.  It’s really nice now to be able to think that I’ve already done more than I’ve got to go.  While we haven’t found that elusive west to east current we do now have good winds and are doing up to eight point five knots over the ground.  At this rate we’ll get to Point Barrow late tomorrow and then we’re off through the North west passage.  To my mind the North East Passage finishes with the international date line.  Almost over, almost over, just another few hours.  Because of this and because anyone about my age will be going back to school in a couple of days I’ll try and say a little more than usual….

To anyone going back to school, I am somewhat ambivalent about being here and not there, on the one hand this is an amazing experience through which I’m trying to do some good (ACT, WWW) and I don’t have as much schoolwork as you do.  On the other hand, the trip is difficult and at sometimes very uncomfortable, missing school means I’ll have a lot of catching up to do when I get back, I’m doing no exercise whatsoever so I’ll be really unfit when I get back and while this is not meant to sound like a whinge I didn’t know any of the other crew except The Mother before this trip and the youngest of them is still over twice my age and we don’t speak the same language.  I think it’s worth it.   To anyone who’s interested in Wicked Weather Watch, the North West Passage thawed so quickly this year we’d have been better of going west first.  It was basically open by the time we reached the V Strait.  Also, Gill, the head of WWW is running a half marathon in a couple of days time, wish her luck.  In the meantime tomorrow, when we pass the date line, we’ll have to repeat a day.  Which means I have to wait a extra day for christmas, aww.  I’ll write to you when we get there, bye.

179 degrees. This is agony. We have less than sixty miles, and everything seems to be going much much slower

179 degrees.  This is agony.  We have less than sixty miles to until we’re half way round so of course everything seems to be going much much slower.  It’s not though.  We’ve got the genoa out for the first time in weeks and have been going along at over seven knots over the ground.  The weather has been good, wind but not too cold, although, you remember that current that was supposed to help us through the East Siberian Sea?  All and I mean ALL, of the experimental evidence that we’ve encountered supports the conclusion that it just doesn’t exist.  If it did we’d be going over eight knots, so I don’t know what we’re doing wrong but it’s frustrating.  I am really looking forward to Point Barrow.  It’s not that it’s a particularly exotic place, I’ve been to America before and I’ve been further north before.  The reason it’s exciting is because all I’ve seen for the last month has been Russia, and the Russia I have seen is massive, bleak and sameish.  The North West Passage is apparently much more interesting.  I hope so, I’m bored with constant brown moors, we’ve had them for the last four thousand miles.  In order to catch up with Alaskan time we’ve changed the clocks I’m now doing the two till six watch rather than the six till ten.  In reality the only effect this has is when it’s dark the clock says it’s midnight rather than six in the morning.  If we’re lucky it should take us four days to reach Barrow.  I think that there is where the North East Passage finishes, not long now, bye.

Five thousand and sixty five miles. As of today thats how far I’ve come in sixty six days on board

Five thousand and sixty five miles. As of today thats how far I’ve come in sixty six days on board.  Given our mode of transport it definitely feels as if that’s how long it’s been.  We’re at one hundred and seventy two degrees, in the morning we passed the opening into a large bay where the town of Pevek is.  That was where we might stop to refuel if needed, luckily that did not prove necessary. In order to catch up with the eleven hour time difference we’ve altered the clocks.  Technically everyone is still doing the exact same thing at the exact same time but according to the log I’m now on watch from twelve till four.  We’ve had the staysail up today and have been going quickly enough despite the frankly horrible sea state.  If we keep going as we are we’ll be half way round by tomorrow, that is definitely something to give us hope.  I’ll write to you once we reach 180 degrees, bye

Another interesting development as we’ve kept on going south and east is the reinstatement of the concept of night. We now have a couple of hours each day when it’s actually dark

Hi, so, we left the Laptev sea a few days ago and are passing through the middle of the East Siberian Sea.  We’ve had to divert a long way south to avoid a large patch of sea ice that we couldn’t get through.  As we’ve gone south the days have started getting much much warmer.  On my morning watch today we had eight degrees.  Thats warmer than anything we’ve had since we were covered in smoke from a forest fire while anchored in that bay.  Another interesting development as we’ve kept on going south and east is the reinstatement of the concept of night.  We now have a couple of hours each day when it’s actually dark.  On the one today some of us saw the Northern Lights, unfortunately, I was in bed at the time.  Because of the time difference, until recently, the sun set at two in the after noon and rose again at eight in the evening. To compensate for this we’ve changed the clocks and our watches so that it’s dark during the night.  Because of this I now have the twelve till four watch instead of the six till ten.  About fifty miles ahead of us is the Russian town of Pevec, it’s where we would have stopped to refuel or repair things that had broken while sailing, if there were any.  As it happens,  because of how much we’ve been sailing we could get to Point Barrow under engine alone.  Not that we plan to of course, but we could.  Though I have said it many many times before, I think we’ve passed the last of the ice.  According to satellite pictures we’ve received and the ice charts we’ve got, the bit of ice we’re currently going round is the last piece before the North west Passage.  So through a combination of blind optimism and some actual evidence we hope to reach Point Barrow some time next week.  I’ll write to you again to tell you when we get there, bye.

I at least am coming dangerously close to feeling actually happy

17.22 UTC from the East Siberian Sea

Hello, so, you remember the blog I did a few days ago where I said I was really miserable? Well in response to that a whole set of people put comments on the PolarOcean website offering advice and generally being supportive. I’ve just finished reading them.  Thanks for those, it really cheered me up and made me smile.  I got messages from a schoolfriend, my headmaster, oh, and by the way Andrew, you may not think much of your micro poetry but The Mother and Barbara really like them, I’m afraid I usually need to get one of them to translate it for me.  I’m not much of a poet, sorry.  I got one from a crew member who’ll be joining us in Tuk who flew a small aircraft over the Atlantic at 20, I look forward to hearing about that David, thanks.  I got one from Whiteness School. Hi guys, thanks for writing, yes the puffin is still there and I’ve still got that skeleton horse one of you gave me, sorry I can’t remember your name, you were the one in the grey hoodie weren’t you?  There were a few more from people I couldn’t identify, thank you everyone who wrote, whoever you are.  Though some of the comments were humorous and some were actually very helpful the reason they actually touched me is that I’m surprised that there are people out there who care about how I feel.  Generally I just try to get on with things and not think about how I feel, so the fact that you actually took time out of your day to write those was a new and lovely experience.  Thanks.  Anyway, in more happy news We’ve got enough wind to put the staysail out and the skies are clear.  I think quite a lot of how I was feeling may have been that I hadn’t got any sunshine for over two weeks, the last couple of days however have been warm(ish) and bright.  I at least am coming dangerously close to feeling actually happy, I don’t know about anyone else.  Just at the end of my watch earlier we hit one hundred and fifty seven degrees, we’re doing well.  Provided we continue like this we should be in Point Barrow in under a week.  Bye