As the Bremen left Depot Bay yesterday the Bruce Roberts designed Arctic Tern sailed into Fort Ross having been held back for a couple of days by the ice in Cresswell Bay. We had confirmation from them of the whereabouts of the Norwegian tug, the Tandberg Polar, towing its large steel barge and a few hours later this unlikely Arctic traveller sailed into the Bay and anchored.
We dinghied over to Arctic Tern to exchange G'days and met up with skipper Les, his partner Ali and their crew Nick, Nicky and Randall. They had made it as far as Fort Ross last year and were turned back by the ice in Bellot Strait and beyond and sailed all the way back to Newfoundland to sit out the winter before trying again this year. As is the cruisers' way the world over we invited them over for sundowners later that evening.
After an exchange of information on conditions, the use of the icebreaker, etc, the crew of the Tandberg Polar were also invited over for drinks. One drink became two and with five Norwegians on board two became lots and our precious supply of beer, wine and rum is now a shadow of its former self!
We had been watching closely the ice that was being driven through the Bellot Strait by the westerly winds and brought into our anchorage by the currents. This ice had been limited to a relatively few small floes of first year ice, but in the early hours our anchor watch spotted a continuous line of ice coming into the bay with the current. By the time we had got up and dressed this continuous line of ice stretching over 100m wide and 20m deep had reached the boat and was pressing on our anchor chain. Fortunately we were to the right of centre on this floe and after some tricky manoeuvres and the sacrifice of more anti foul we extricated ourselves from the floe and left the bay in search of a safer anchorage in Levesque Harbour, right at the back of Brentford Bay.
As we entered our chosen bay we saw a large male Polar Bear on an ice floe and switching off the engine we were able to drift to within 20 metres of the bear who sat undisturbed and let us take his photo. As we drifted past we spotted a mother and cub up on the cliffs and once again motored slowly over to take some more amazing shots as both looked down to see what these strangers were up to.