With the ice charts showing only a slight improvement but the wind continuing to blow in our favour, yesterday, Terje and I took another walk into the Bellot Strait to see what conditions were like. It was clear that the north easterlies had cleared some ice from the strait but there was still a choke point in the narrows and more ice at the western entrance.
The ice charts that evening gave more encouragement and showed that the winds had created a lead down the west coast of Boothia Peninsula that we could use to make our way south.
We decided to delay our departure until 6am the following morning when we could use the last of the west going current to punch our way through any ice we encountered and this proved to be a useful tactic helping us to get through the choke point. The ice build up at the western end proved far more formidable with 4/10ths or more stretching across the entrance. Once again Novara proved her icebreaker credentials and by using the strong west going current we were able to pick out a narrower section and punch our way through.
We were followed successfully by Les and Ali on Arctic Tern but the 3rd boat Gjoa had some problems and got trapped in the ice and had to ask for help from the Russian expedition cruise ship the Akademik Sergei Vavilov who were also transiting the strait.
With great skill, their captain and crew managed to get close enough to connect a tow as a large polar bear advancing across the ice to the Gjoa made this adventure even more memorable!
Although we encountered more ice along the coast we made good progress as we headed south in favourable winds and calm seas.
Gjoa with the Akademik Sergie Vavilov