Exploring Beechey Island

Yesterday the day was spend exploring Beechey Island. We shifted anchorage as the wind had increased and made landing with the dinghy on Erebus and Terror bay side very uncomfortable. On the Union Bay side we could anchor close to shore and with the Easterly winds have no trouble with waves or ice. Perfect! Going ashore now means staying with the gun as protection of for the polar bears. We have already found fresh traces off bears, claw marks and some bloody ice. But no sighting of bears yet.

Beechey Island is a strange place, for me it felt a like an in-between place. Walking around between the grave stones of three of the crew of Erebus and Terror and one of Investigator, it makes you think of time. Now we are there, walking around, knowing of their history, in a place they once walked around in, a place that looks exactly the same as it did 150 years ago. No trees to change the looks, no settlements to alter what it once was, no human interference or anything. Just stone and water, ice and sea, and some mosses on stones, that might be 150 years old! Their graves and hardship are remembered and well preserved, which is good. As there is not much left of their first attempt.

50 years before the Erebus and Terror where there, there was another ship, exactly 200 years ago this year, the Hecla (one can see the name resemblance), out exploring in search of the fabled passage under command of the captain Parry. He was the first to over winter trying to find the passage, but had to head back. Parry channel is of course named after him, but he was the one to give Beechey island its name, after his first lieutenant William Beechey. Parry came back two more times, but never found his way through, the farthest he came was Fury beach in Prince regent inlet, where they had to leave their ship Fury behind, beset in ice, crew rescued onto Hecla, which sailed them back to England.  (http://farhorizons.hull.ac.uk/hms-hecla/)

Today we are making our approach to Peel Sound. Ice charts have shown a rapid decrease in ice, saying 4/10 is the most we could encounter. With a easterly wind we are hoping to hug the shore of Somerset island and make it as far south as we can. And then wait it out until Franklin strait becomes clearer as well

We are now 25 miles of the entrance of Peel sound, somehow everyday feels a bit like the start or beginning of the voyage, but entering Peel sound will be marked as the start of our attempt to sail through the North West Passage.

As we left Union bay we had a strong easterly breeze, we set mizzen and staysail, doing 7 to 8 knots. The wind and the showers made the temperature drop, but did not decrease the waves. We were rolling about until after lunch, when we encountered some sea ice to our port side. Making our way through, the wind seemed to decrease a little, but even better, the waves decreased as well, to nearly half their size. But with the ice, in came the fog. We met two more patches of sea ice and then sailed out of the fog. We set the jib first thinking we would not like to be under full rig with ice around. But no ice was spotted for an hour… so we set the mainsail as well. Now doing 6 knots, aiming for the corner of Peel Sound. No ice in sight.