The Return

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 2 Aug 2008 18:22
Position: At sea, about 10 miles west of Ilulissat
Wind: North, gentle breeze
Weather: Fog early followed by sunshine

The return journey commences. This morning I refuelled and watered and at
11.30 a.m. we departed Ilulissat. Outside the harbour it was dead calm with
lots of ice, big and small. For a short while it was clear but out ahead
tendrils of fog were creeping towards the Isfjord. As they approached the
icebergs they climbed up and over them flowing like smoke. We were soon
enveloped in the stuff, though it was only thin and the small ice could
clearly be seen around and about while the peaks of the larger icebergs
majestically poked their heads clear through the top, shining brightly in
the sunshine above. We motored cautiously through the mist and ice,
frequently having to reduce speed to a crawl to push our way through some of
the denser concentrations of brash ice. At times as we pushed through this
small ice it stretched way from us, a sea of glistening diamonds reflecting
the diffuse soft light penetrating the thin layer of fog. Beautiful as it
was I was pleased when two hours later it suddenly cleared. I was peering
ahead, I could discern a shoreline ahead of us with a house on it close to
the foreshore. I thought, "Am I totally lost, where did that come from?" A
moment later I realized it wasn't the shore but the ocean ahead, darkened by
wind ripples and the house was an iceberg in the distance. I laughed, about
20 minutes prior I had said to myself, this is all very nice but could this
fog go away please and a light northerly would be just perfect thank you
very much. And now we have it. The engine is at rest, the mainsail and
drifter are hoisted and Sylph is quietly sliding along at about three knots,
a slow steady speed just fine for keeping clear of ice.
Bob Cat is getting saltier every day. Once we had cleared harbour he came
out into the cockpit and made himself comfortable on a cushion. I was
pulling lines and dragging sails out around him and he just gave me a
slightly annoyed look but didn't budge. A few weeks ago he would have
bolted down below and hidden as soon as I had even moved.
I am still evolving a plan for the return to Annapolis. My inclination is
to cross Davis Strait towards Baffin Island, to there catch the Labrador
current and make our way south with its assistance, stopping at a couple of
spots on the Labrador coast along the way. I expect it will be a good 24
hours before we are clear of Disko Bay and out in Davis Strait so I do not
need to decide until then. In the meantime I shall study the weather and
try and get some up to date ice charts for across the way.

Bob Cat:

Away from that noisy harbour and all those bothersome people, now I can
continue my rigorous schedule out on the patio in peace. Though skipper Bob
can be a little irritating at times, always fussing over something, but if
it keeps him amused I guess I can put up with it.

All is well.