North West Passage – Day 38 – 39 – Kaktovik to Barrow Point

10th September 2023 – Day 38 and 39


I started my watch badly. Firstly I asked Dan if he could turn off the navigation lights. I thought it was wise not to waste battery power using lights during the day. Dan pointed out that he had just turned them on as it was about to get dark. I was convinced it was the morning, but it was the evening! Then, steering by the compass only, in the fog and without my eyes fully adjusted to the gloom or having a feel for the sails, I accidently gybed. I completely misread the S for E on the compass card and in a flash moment it was too late. No harm done, but the 6”(?) diameter wooden boom about 20‘ long is quite a beast to gybe by mistake. Dan gave me a hand by sheeting in while I put the boat back on course. Later in the watch the wind had died down and the swell caused the boat to roll heavily. The weight of the boom started to swing through the wind and even with the tiller thrust towards the sail it wasn’t possible to stop the second gybe. I sheeted in and gybed back into the course. We are now making good progress having skipped two stopping places. If the wind dies off, and we need to motor, we will need to find fuel, plus we are running short on water. Let’s see what pans out.

11th September 2023 – Day 39


It looks like Point Barrow will be our fuelling stop. We can’t get into the sheltered lagoon near the settlement because of our draft so we will need to anchor off the beach in the roadstead.

Shallow draft boats can get shelter behind the spits, but that wouldn’t work with Integrity. We anchored in the open roadstead.

The weather is forecast to be fairly calm but this persistent fog might make things tricky. The plan then is for a rapid refuel by Jerry cans. It will involve three dinghy trips at least. Some places won’t fill Jerry cans at all, and others insist on steel ones. If that is the case, we will need about 6 trips. Luckily the fuel station is only 50 m from the beach. We need water too. The plan is to fuel up and scarper as soon as possible. While the weather holds, we need to milk it as best we can. However, it looks like we will arrive around 17:00, maybe later by the time the dinghy is readied. Will the fuel station still be open? There may be an opportunity to get some WIFI and get more weather info and upload the blog, but time is pressing and we may need to get back to sea.

These three white tanks are the best position to anchor to get fuel

Well there wasn’t any time! We anchored in 3 m in position N71°18.2823 x W156°45.99 which placed us as near to the “Gas Station” as possible. We could see a fine line of surf on the beach. Three of us plus all the empty diesel and water containers jumped in the dinghy and headed to the shore. This was to be the first of three refuelling dinghy runs. The fine line of surf began the look quite big as we neared the beach. When we were about 5 m off the beach a large wave picked us up, swung the dinghy sidewards and hurled us onto the beach, swamping us with icy cold water in the process. Our dilemma was how would we get back to the boat with the tender loaded with about quarter a tonne of water and diesel. Our arrival on the beach turned out to be a bit of a sightseeing occasion for the super friendly locals. The locals all monitor VHF in their homes. They insisted on giving us gifts of Muktuk and freshly baked doughnuts.

Our gift of muktuk and doughnuts

A family helped us transport the fuel in their pick up truck. We would have loved to have spent some time there but there was a job that needed doing. We decided to face the challenge of getting through the surf line by choosing our time and going for it hell for leather using the oars to try to clear the waves. It worked and we were able to start the engine and get back to the boat. We aren’t so lucky on the second and third trips with the boat getting swamped each time.

Dan and Arthur running the dinghy through the surf line as the locals look on in amazement!

After a few hours we were able to get back to the yacht, lift the anchor and get underway. We enjoyed our gifted snacks with some hot chocolate and hung all our wet clothes up to dry. Next stop, we hope, will be  Lisburne Point where we may need to shelter from the strong headwinds that have been forecast.

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