Sailing in Freezing Weather near Ice Edge

Published on September 13th, 2015

Chinese skipper Guo Chuan, leading an international crew on a 97-foot trimaran, set sail on September 3 from Russia to attempt the first non-stop sailing world record along the Northeast Passage from Murmansk to the Bering Strait between Alaska (USA) and Russia. Here’s a recent update…

Sailing on the East Siberian Sea, this is the coldest day of our journey. The water temperature is 0 degrees, with only the salt in the water keeping it from freezing. But it is the humidity which is the problem as almost everything outside the pit is frozen: the deck, the shoots, ropes, sails, mast, camera, etc.

Most of our weather instruments at the top of the mast do not work, so we can only depend on the GPS and the digital weather models instead. Guo Chuan got a cricket bat out, which we have to use from time to time to crush the ice so that everything could function normally, or it would be extremely dangerous.

On the satellite pictures we can see that we are very near to the ice edge. So we are very carefully and check the radar in a frequent manner. When we did see the ice edge, it was a big white stripe at the horizon with no end. We came closer and altered our course to south quickly afterwards.

Growlers are so unpredictable and it seems they can come to us anytime from anywhere. It is difficult to sail near the ice edge eastwards. Though it is faster, it might be too risky for us as we might stuck in the ice area. But sailing south means we will have stronger winds and more growlers and floating ice. It is a real challenging now.

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