We’re in Tuk! It’s amazing! Forty percent of the land is small lakes and the village is built around it.

We’re in Tuk!  It’s amazing! Forty percent of the land is small lakes and the village is built around it.  It’s bleak, like the rest of the Arctic, but there are some small hills and some foliage, so in comparison to the area around Barrow it’s a veritable rainforest.  We arrived several hours ago in an area away from the rest of the village because it’s more sheltered and there’s a hurricane in the US.  When we arrived we refuelled and Nikolai and Barbara got a ride into town to see the pontoon near the village.  They returned and proudly announced that they had procured not only the car they’d come back in, but also the house of the people who met us’s boss for a shower!  Not surprisingly we all went and had showers, it was very nice. I also got rid of my coffee stain face look by shaving, a big improvement, and apply some cream to the quite spectacular spots I’ve developed on my chest.

Tuk has no hotel, no restaurants no cafes no anything, all it has are two supermarkets.  Barbara and Constance went to one of these and got sticky ribs and chips that Nikolai then cooked up into the best meal I’ve had since Tromsø.  In the house with the shower we were also granted use of the television that it had.  From this we discovered that Canadian television has absolutely nothing worth watching.  Eighty percent of it is adverts.  We returned to the boat for dinner and discovered the first proper dark night I’ve had since I crossed the Arctic circle.  It’s really nice.

I also discovered that over this trip I have become laughably unfit.  I used to be able to do five kays in under twenty two minutes.  I went for a two hundred meter walk and my feet hurt by the end of it.  Grrr.  It’s quarter past one in the morning now and we’ve got a busy day tomorrow so I should probably go to bed.  I’ll write again in the morning.  By which time I think I’ll have been on the boat for eighty five days.  Would it be wrong to say I’d like a bed where I can sit up straight without banging my head?  I like to think not.  Bye.

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In the meantime we’re hoping for aurora. I’ve been hoping the clouds will clear and it’ll get dark earlier on my shift so that I can get to see some.

We get to Tuktoyuktak tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to that, we get to get off the boat, if there’s a food place maybe have dinner off the boat and just walk around.  Actually, interesting point,  the Inuit towns are all dry.  It’s illegal to sell alcohol there but it’s not illegal to buy it.  The reason is that the Inuit have no resistance to the drug.  It’s never been around before so their physiology isn’t able to cope, they get drunk and addicted very very easily and it kills them if they have too much. So that’s a fairly good reason I think.

When Dad came on board in Point Barrow he brought me a mascot for Barrow and one for Tuk.  Two rubber ducks, Rupert Murduck, and Soducku.  I’m going to put them on the front when we get to Tuk.  Rupert Murduck isn’t actually anything to do with Murdock, he’s just a mermaid duck, a merduck, so you have to call him Rupert.  We didn’t have a choice, it had to be done.

In the meantime we’re hoping for aurora. During the North East Passage we had one night where there was an aurora that was worth seeing.  Typically, almost everyone was asleep.  Only Barbara and Denis saw it and since then I’ve been hoping the clouds will clear and it’ll get dark earlier on my shift so that I can get to see some.  No luck so far but I have a promise that if some are seen I’ll be woken up.  See you in Tuk, bye.

Our other new crew member has settled in well. Johan’s good to have in board, very confident and very cheerful. Definitely a contributor.

Hello.  So the North East Passage is over! We are now the first and only British boat to have sailed the North East Passage in one season.  Whoo.  We felt this required some kind of celebration so when we stopped in Point Barrow we had Dad go and get pizza before getting onboard.  The Beaufort sea has taking about twice as long as we’d hoped.  Bad winds hampered us from the start and we had to go north to try and get round them, when that didn’t work we just motored into the wind until we reach Tuktoyuktak.  We should reach it tomorrow and we’ll refuel and be on our way in about twenty four hours.  I’m really looking forward to being able to get off the boat.  With the length of time on Northabout and the lack of exercise I’ve lost a lot of weight.  Mostly muscle I think but I won’t pretend I didn’t have fat to lose at the start of this.  I don’t know how much I’ve changed but Dad noticed just from looking at me.  Scary thought.  It’ll be difficult getting my fitness back at the end of it.  In the meantime our other new crew member has settled in well.  Johan’s good to have in board, very confidant and very cheerful.  Definitely a contributor.   I’ve just come off my watch and need to sleep so I’ll go now, see you in less than half the world, bye.

Auto helms stopped working but moving and putting effort into the steering keeps you warm which is nice

Joy of joys, the auto-helm’s stopped working.  Dad (Steve Edwards, crew), thinks he knows why so we’ll hopefully be able to fix it in Tuk.  In the meantime we’re back to helming by hand. This is a mixed blessing, on the one hand it’s really irritating to have to helm in large swells and with a strong headwind because any movement you make is at first ignored, and then exaggerated by, the wind.  So it’s hard to keep a decent track and it makes it harder to look out for ice.  On the other hand, moving and putting effort into the steering keeps you warm which is nice and it means you don’t have to put as many clothes on which is also nice because when you go down stairs and it’s twenty four degrees it can get quite uncomfortable.  I would rather have the auto-helm.  Something that is very good though is the addition of a certain Norwegian to the boat.  While Denis was nice and very good at the sailing we couldn’t really talk to him and this made life a little, not much but a little, difficult.

Johan on the other hand can speak very good english, is also a very good sailor and very nice to be around.  He’s got the attitude that I’ve come to associate with very tough, very confident with just a hint of silliness to their humour.  It’s a good combo.  Apparently pictures of me washing up have become famous back home, on that matter I would like to set the record straight. Yes I have been washing up on my days but it’s Constance Barbara and Denis that ruled the Galley on the North East Passage.  I don’t think that’s going to change, though Johan is a good cook.

I’ve got to sleep now but I’ll write again soon.  In the meantime, do svidanya.

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.