Too Much Ice!
While we were sailing along the Vilkitsky Strait towards Cape Chelyuskin,
the weather changed and we were soon engulfed in a fog that made seeing
difficult. As luck would have it, we sailed past Vega Point without seeing
it but we were happy that the passage seemed to be mostly ice-free. We
were talking about what we would do when at anchor: a warm shower, a
proper meal, a good night's sleep etc. But as we neared Cape Chelyuskin
and our anchorage, we saw through the fog big bergy bits on our right-hand
side and soon also in front of us. We first thought that the thick fog was
playing a trick on us, that it was causing some kind of a Novaya Zemlya
effect but the closer we got the bigger the ice grew. They were huge bergs
of old ice packed together along the shoreline totally blocking our way to
the anchorage. The sight made us shiver. It was so unreal or actually
surreal, like one of Max Ernst's more depressing paintings.
This photo was not taken at Cape Chelyuskin. At the time,we were preoccupied with more pressing matters like getting out of there.
So far the sea had been calm but suddenly a swell appeared out of nowhere,
a powerful swell that started lifting the ice up and down, as it did our
boat, and we realized that we had to get out of there. We had only two
alternatives, either to go back the way we had come from provided that the
passage was still open behind us or to go north, and to the north we went.
The swell had been an early warning of a strong wind that started blowing
from the north-east and soon we were struggling against the wind amidst
floe and drift ice. Tacking is not one of Sarema's strong points but tack
we did for several hours until we reached the peninsula coast again. By
now, we were so exhausted and hungry that we let Sarema drift while we had
breakfast/lunch/dinner, we didn't know which as we had long since lost all
track of time.
After the meal, Pekka slept for an hour while I was on ice watch and then
it was my turn to take a nap. We agreed that Pekka would wake me up after
half an hour but instead of waking me up he started the engine and
continued our passage towards the Laptev Sea which was almost around the
corner. After sailing for about an hour, Pekka woke me up saying that he
needed to consult me. I was still half asleep when I went up and what I
saw made me exclaim “Missä helvetissä me ollaan??? Nyt viet meidät heti
pois täältä!!! (Roughly translated: “Darling, where are we? I don't think
we should be in a place like this!”). Which reminds me that I had thought
of teaching you some Tundra Nenets but as we won't have any time to visit
Nenets people and since Nenets belongs to the same Uralic Language Family
as Finnish, I have now decided to teach you some Finnish instead.
Now back to the scene above. I saw around us a zillion pieces of ice that
looked like broken crystal, hard, sharp, and transparent. It was clear
that we would never be able to sail through this closely packed field. So,
we carefully monitored our way out of the ice and luckily found a
protected anchorage in the nearby Amundsen Bay. I am now snugly curled up in
my sleeping bag with a glass of sparkling wine in front of me. For a
change, my hands are warm, my feet are warm, and since I don't have to be
on ice watch, I can finally close my eyes. Ah, life is sheer bliss