North West Passage – Days 32-33 – Passage to Tuktoyaktuk

4th September 2023 – Day 32


We are currently about 30 nm from the Baillie Islands. There is Snowgoose Passage which cuts off the corner, but it is too shallow for us. From the mast spreaders it is possible to see the Smoking Mountains about 30 nm off our port beam.

These mountains are continuously of fire, and yes that is smoke!

They burn permanently but we wonder how the fire started in the first place?

Dan thought he may have seen seen some whales but that was a long shot, not literally of course. He also spotted some seals but I have only seen a solitary fulmar and a few more geese going on holiday down south. Overnight the temperature was 2°C. The wind has now died off and we are burning through precious fuel. We are expecting an easterly to build up soon so we can sail again. The calculation is that we would have only 15 nm spare if we need to motor all the way to Tuktoyaktuk, and that assumes 1,800 rpm cruising speed for the 56 hp Beta engine. If we need to motor into a strong headwind we will burn more fuel. Arthur has been doing a shopping list for Tuk. We need to eat the provisions on board, so we will choose food that goes well will rice and pasta. 

In theory, and take that with a pinch of salt, it should be 10 days continuous sailing from Tuk to Nome. ETA Nome about 17th September, three days later than the original plan. It all depends on the weather, if we need to shelter from headwinds it could take longer, a lot longer. There are no over-wintering options once we leave Tuk. We can’t hang around because the ice could cut off Barrow Point. Gales become more common later in September in the Bering Straights. There have been several reported orca attacks on fishing boats. There could be some “fun” ahead!

5th September 2023 – Day 33


We ended yesterday with several good sailing watches, saving us precious fuel. However by my watch early this morning we were bashing into awkward waves under power and only making a few knots, often being halted by the wave train. This isn’t ideal being aware of the tight fuel supply. We were contemplating anchoring or heaving too but the waves seemed to be moderating so we carried on. Now at 12:15 the sea has further moderated but the wind is dead on the nose. Dan has just rolled in the jib and sheeted the main down tight. With higher engine revs of 1,800 we are making 5 kn. There seems to be about 60 nm to go so it looks like an arrival in the dark, not ideal. Once we arrive, the wind is due to turn easterly making it perfect to depart! There will be a military operation on land with Will and I trying to secure some fuel, Arthur to buy provisions and Dan to find some wifi. If there is time we will try to do some laundry. It will be a hectic few hours before we set off for Herschel Island.

Stop Press 02:00 arrived at Tuk!

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