Dodo's Delight remains anchored 2 nm East of Point Hope. The weather forecast continues to predict northerly winds for the coming 5-7 days, which in turn is pushing ice south. Things aren't looking good. Communications with David Scott Cowper, aboard "Polar Bound" located further south in Dutch Harbour confirms our fears that we are running out of time (Scott Cowper was the first person to navigate the NW Passage single handed and is another experienced Arctic Explorer with a purpose designed and built motor yacht for the Arctic elements).
The open ice pack season in the Arctic is shorter to the West than it is in the East. We have a 1000 mile passage to make with no real cover and are very reliant on favourable winds. How long can we sit here, restlessly wanting to move north then East? Once we have made the dash across the north of Alaska things will become easier. Places to run to in inclement weather and from 125 degrees west the coast changes from an uninspiring tundra to a maze of inlets, islands, navigable sounds and thinner ice.
The normal navigable passage season is in August and September, and as we are basically treading water every day that passes makes success less likely - at least in 2013. Whilst the past two decades have seen the ice melt increase in longevity year on year, 2013 had been to date a reversion of the trend. Many are talking about it being a "bad ice year".
We are in communication with a couple of other boats attempting the passage both from our side (the West) and from the Atlantic. All are concerned. At present the ice is between 5 & 7/10ths from Barrow East for a distance of approx. 350 miles - impassable by most yachts, including Dodo's Delight.
Last night we had a crew discussion on options. If we get a break, we potentially could get to 135 degrees west before the winter bites back. At this longitude the Mackenzie river runs inland into the canadian Yukon territory and c. 120 miles inland there lies the town of Inuvik - a potential wintering hide. However the Mackenzie river has a complex outfall into the Arctic Ocean with many lagoons and tributaries with limited accurate charts. Just getting up the river would cause challenges.
So for now we sit and wait, fingers and toes crossed that we get a consistent Northerly.
Whilst we are protected, and have now found good holding (for the anchor), cabin fever is now on the cards. Five people, all with very different characters, on a small boat which is damp, condensation running everywhere, food staples being tinned varieties and the constant movement is bound to bring friction. We did buy two loaves of bread from the Native Store in Point Hope yesterday - US$10 a loaf! Our living area is little bigger than a garden shed or small bathroom.