Dances with Foxes

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Sun 1 Aug 2010 02:53
We decided to stay put today in the hope of making the most of this beautiful place. After a bit of a lie-in, we had a massive breakfast. Richard and I set to work to dismantle and rebuild the Racor diesel filter to try to work out why it's letting air into the fuel. It took hours and, when we reinstalled it and started the engine, it was clear that we'd got something badly wrong. Richard quickly worked out that we'd installed a valve the wrong way around and we had to remove it, completely strip it again and reinstall once more. After that performance, the engine ran properly again but we were still getting strange air leaks and we're not really any the wiser, just older by about 5 hours. We were both extremely frustrated.

To try to salvage something from the day, we went ashore for a walk. The girls had been earlier and told us there were some ruins and graves to be seen - they'd also watched an iceberg disintegrate in front of them. Richard and I set off clambering up the glacially rounded rocks, covered in slippery lichen. We did find an old grave, complete with occupant staring up at us but we didn't see any nearby house ruins. As we headed back to Saxon Blue for our dinner, we saw a young Arctic Fox scampering about on the rocks nearby. He didn't seem scared of us so we stopped and I chatted to him. He came nearer until he was standing on the rock about 2 meters away from me and then he stood on his hind legs to get a better look at me before trotting away.

Richard and I just laughed at how unlikely this all was and then moved off again, only to see the same fox waiting for us a bit further on. I thought I'd see how close he'd come so I squatted down and held out my hand. He advanced a bit then stopped and watched me closely, waggling his head from side to side and rotating it so his eyes were one above the other. He moved away a bit so I made a squeaking noise and that got his attention. He advanced again and kept coming until I could feel the cold damp of his nose touching my fingers. Then he opened his mouth and gave me a little nip so that I could feel his teeth scrape over my knuckles.

Richard wanted a photo of him stood on his hind legs so it waggled my fingers in the air above him and, sure enough, he stood up to try to reach them. After that, he got all giddy and pranced about, hopping from four legs to two. Richard got some amazing shots. We were in danger of being late for dinner so we had to get going and he followed us all the way back to the boat. We tried calling Andrea and Kali on the VHF to look out at us and our new pet but they didn't answer the radio as they were too busy looking at us anyway. Andrea wondered if we knew about the fox leading the way and the girls were amazed when we told them how close we'd been.

Dinner was amazing - baked Halibut that some fishermen had given to Reverend Bob and he'd redistributed in true Biblical style accompanied by roasted vegetables. I still felt the need for more shoreside action so Andrea and I set off in the tender. We went to a slightly different bit of the bay but, as we came in, there were two little foxes watching us. I don't know if either of them was my friend but they were both prancing around near us. We went to explore and found the remains of a dozen or so houses and a couple of concrete building foundations. I don't think the turf houses were as old as the ones we saw a few days ago as they were smaller and squarer.

The rain that had been falling most of the day was clearing, leaving incredible cloud formations. The nearby island was visible up to about 100 meters above the sea, then it was all cloud up to about 800 meters, then the peaks on top of the island again. In the gap between two islands, we could see the fairytale shape of Umanak island wreathed in cloud. The sea was mirror calm but it wasn't peaceful. There were constant explosions, some sharp and some rolling like thunder. I'm not sure whether they're the icebergs disintegrating or the glaciers in the mountains around us. As we explored further, we found a proper graveyard with about 50 graves, many of them childsize and all marked by simple white-painted wooden crosses. Again, I'm not sure how old they are. None looked new but things decompose so slowly here that they could be 50 years old - I don't know.

Back onboard Saxon Blue, we all watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica and the others have gone to bed now. It's past midnight but the sun is still shining on the clouds above me. A sea mist is rolling into the anchorage and the moon is out. It's hard to go to bed but we've got a long day tomorrow as we've got to get to Umanak and meet Magnus, our new crew member.


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