A dog's eye view

Summer 2022
John Andrews
Sat 2 Aug 2014 15:02

Morning all! Pet Officer Snoopy here – finally managed to access the comms. I really think you need to know what’s actually going on here.

Frankly I’m disappointed at how quickly standards have slipped. I know all this waiting for the ice to clear is getting a bit tedious but I had hoped for better on board discipline. Not only have they lost all sense of what day of the week it is – if I hear anyone ask ‘what day is it?’ one morev time I’ll go stir crazy – but they now seem to have lost any sense of what time of day it is. They’re sleeping all day and partying all night and quite frankly, it looks as if a bomb has exploded in the saloon – they’ve all just gone to bed no doubt hoping that Pig and I will do the necessary. Well they’re going to be disappointed.

And then there’s the constant bickering. The skipper is completely obsessed with amps and diesel and is being extremely parsimonious with the heating, much to the annoyance of the rest of the crew. He’s always peering at the instrument panel and demanding to know who is ‘pulling amps’. I know this is an Arctic Adventure and we should be able to put up with a bit of cold, but when the olive oil goes solid and you can’t squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube, things have definitely gone too far. Cap’n Tim was no better in the Antarctic, putting his crew through no end of privations, muttering constantly about engine hours and charging rates. It must be a skipper thing. All I can say is I’m glad I’m still wearing my polar gear.

And then there was this tom fool adventure into the ice. When you decide to go to a place called Arctic Bay, I think you should expect to find Arctic conditions. I could have given them a spot of advice, given my previous high latitude experience, but no, they just set off and Pig and I had to watch mutely as the inevitable consequences unfolded. ‘It’s just across Lancaster Sound,’ they said. ‘It’s got two shops, a school and they sell diesel. Plus it will give us something to do rather than just sitting around here waiting.’ All went well for the first 6 hours and then they spotted the wall of ice. Undaunted, they plunged in, weaving here and there along the leads like the ice pros they thought they were. That is until they reached a dead end. Round we turned, heading off east to find a gap in the ice and then plunging southward again. At last the skipper saw sense, realized we’d never make it through and turned the boat round to follow our track out. Only the track wasn’t there any more, everything had closed up. They faffed around with the long poley things they call ‘tuks’ and made a bit of progress but then ground to a complete halt. ‘Well, we’ll just have to wait till things change,’ said the skipper, so there we sat for the next six hours, drifting with the ice, making what progress we could as gaps opened up and then closed again. Young Max came up with an excellent wheeze with the dinghy kedge anchor, whirling it round his head like a lasso and hurling it forwards over huge sheets of ice and just pulling. To everyone’s amazement, blocks of ice the size of tennis courts just started moving, and bit by bit they managed to manoeuver the boat to more open water. The question then was which direction was the way out? The skipper wanted to go East, but compasses don’t work in these waters, and they weren’t moving fast enough for the GPS system to give them a direction, added to which the fog closed in, so they were working completely blind. Luckily, the heat of the sun eventually burned the fog off and a bit of a breeze picked up. They could tell by the sun roughly which direction was East, and made a determined effort to push through the rest of the ice, trying to ignore the crunching sounds as they left behind them a tell-tale trail of blue antifouling. Now they could see the open sea and found themselves surrounded by sheets of ice that were bouncing up and down alarmingly in the swell. No matter, nothing was going to stop them now, they were getting out come what may. A few more nasty bangs and we were away, flying along at 7 plus knots.

I am pleased to say that they made the decision to go straight back to Dundas Harbour, a very safe anchorage which is beginning to feel like home. The dinghy has been launched and inspection of the hull has revealed no damage. Pig and I can breathe easy.

There is quite a crowd of boats gathering now, which is accounting for some of the all night partying.

 Have to stop now though, there’s talk of trying to get new ice charts. Hopefully this time they’ll read them with the due amount of scepticism and respect.