Position update 03.36: 74.95255 N, 85.33304 E – (green arrow)
The wind has returned. The "Northern Passage" is continuing northeast, moving further up the coast of Taymyr.
Position update 12.59: 75.32919 N, 85.75737 E – That’s almost a full degree latitude and one and a half degree longitude since they started sailing again during the night.
Position update 16.05: 75.30144 N, 86.75412 E – Following the coast.
The sun makes a valiant effort to shine through the Arctic fog off Taymyr Peninsula.
Expedition report, 17.49:
We are tacking the seas for the fifth day now. All that time we’ve had a northeasterly wind direction. Admittedly the wind is not as strong now as it has been, and hence the seas are relatively smooth. But nevertheless we have to tack back and forth as we make our way northeast along this huge Taymyr Peninsula. It is here that we wind the northernmost point on the Eurasian continent, Cape Chelyuskin – that is where we are now headed.
The weather switches between foggy and sunny. In the nearby waters we see white whales. We have the unmistakeable feeling that they are watching us as much as we watch them.
We also feel the presence of the Swedish team that explored these waters in 1878. It is fascinating to read the sea charts for this region. Here are names like Sverdrup Island, Ringnes Island and Nansen Island – and we are sailing, of course, toward the Nordenskiöld Archipelago, named after Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld, the explorer who in 1878–79 led that Swedish expedition. Nordenskiöld was the first make a complete crossing of the Northeast Passage. Interestingly, it was Fridtjof Nansen who named the aforementioned archipelago in his honour.
As mentioned, we are approaching Cape Chelyuskin, named in honour of the Russian polar explorer and Navy Lieutenant, Semion Chelyuskin, who discovered it in 1742. We expect to reach the cape in two days’ time – and are very much looking forward to that. We are told that the Vilkitsky Strait is now navigable. Further east, however, in the Laptev Sea, the pack ice is still creating very difficult conditions.
That is our evening’s report from the “Northern Passage”. We’re looking forward to tomorrow.
Note: Neven has offered an informative post on ice conditions:
“There is currently a high-pressure system over the Beaufort Sea. If it stays there for a week or more, the Beaufort Gyre might get kicked into action again. In other words, the central ice pack will start to turn again in a clockwise fashion (which it hasn’t for 6 weeks), and if a low-pressure system stays in place between the Laptev and Kara Seas, then the Transpolar Drift Stream might start to transport the last ice that is blocking the Northern Sea Route away from the Siberian coast.
Of course, there is some multi-year ice left in the East Siberian Sea, but that narrow band of sea ice behind the Vilkitsky Strait is the main obstacle for the circumnavigation. The Northwest Passage is practically open already!"
(For complete post with links to Neven’s blog, which has satellite images and animation, please click Comments to yesterday’s blog post.)