Fine Tolerance and the North West Passage. Newsletter No 13



Fine Tolerance and the North West Passage.
2005 Newsletter No 13
8.00 Zulu, Friday, 18th March,
Position: Iced in solid in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada.

Just a short update to let everyone know that we are both fit and well and, as you can see from these photos taken two days ago, Fine Tolerance is still firmly trapped in the ice. Even with the winter nearing it's end it will still be sometime before we can get underway again.

The past few days have been very pleasant with the highs in the -25 to -28 degree Celsius range (-13 to -20 F). Since the beginning of this year the mercury has seldom risen above -35C and when the wind chill factor is added had been below -50C for weeks on end. Hopefully those really low temperatures will now be a thing of the past for us. The sun is now shining brightly and we now have 10 hours of sunlight a day. Every week the sun stays another 1 1/2 hours and in about 9 weeks we should be in perpetual daylight. Look at the length of the shadow in the photo below. Even though this shot of Liz walking down onto the shore was taken just after 1.00pm local time, the shadow shows that the arc of the sun is still not that high above the horizon.


We have cemented our plans for the coming season. We see one of four scenario's playing out. These are:

1) Fine Tolerance is seriously damaged and cannot continue. We did come up here with the knowledge that this could happen and it would be foolish not to take this scenario into account, however, with only another four weeks or so before the ice starts to begin to melt and with everything appearing OK we believe that this is the least likely scenario of the four.

2) We try once again to make it through the North West Passage and onto Greenland. After there we are unsure which route we will be taking down the Atlantic before rounding South Africa and heading homewards. Making it through the North West Passage is still our main aim at this stage.

3) If the spring and summer season are late, short and cool, and if the ice break-up does not look like presenting us with an opportunity to slip through then we will make the decision earlier than last year to turn around and, provided the possibility exists, to make it out back around Alaska and down into the Pacific.  We would be aided in this earlier decision by the Canadian Coast Guard Ice reports which last year proved time and again to be very accurate. 

4) All our best laid plans are beaten by the conditions and we once again are iced in in the north.  In this case we would be most likely be forced to leave and return to home after seeing Fine Tolerance safely bedded down in the ice for the winter.

The North West Passage had beat the entire might and resources of the British Empire throughout the three centuries of it's sea going supremacy so we will not be ashamed to have failed in our humble attempt. The experience of becoming a temporary member of this community in the high Arctic has been so very richly rewarding in itself, reaching far beyond all our expectations that the effort to get this far, even without succeeding in our original quest, will have been so well worth it

Yours   Phil and Liz

Fine Tolerance