We have spent the last few days crossing Viscount Melville sound from south to north in order to avoid the ice and to reach our waypoint in the far west of the Parry Channel. This point marks a crossroad where we will have to make the difficult decision whether to go through the not yet opened McClure or our backup route though Prince of Wales strait.
A thick omnipresent fog has been making navigation complicated and the cold has made us spend almost all our time off watch in our sleeping bags. We notice that the summer is coming to an end and while we are enjoying beautiful misty sunrises we are concerned about the combination of ice and darker nights. We are constantly in contact with our advisors to discuss our route and there has been a lot of speculation and discussion on whether McClure will open up or not.
Last night the wind picked up to around 30 knots and we were battling some three to four meter breaking waves throughout the night in constant outlook trying to distinguish white caps from ice. Cold and soaking wet we returned one by one from our three hour watches until the wind died down and the fog settled in again.
This morning we finally got the report we had been waiting for! A narrow channel had opened up along the northern coast of Banks Island that may make passage of the McClure strait possible. Heavy 9/10th ice has been moving in and out of this coast for a while. The weather forecast shows winds from the SouthWest until Wednesday which means that the ice will be pushed off the coast until then. This gives us a window of just 36 hours attempt to go through. There is a lot of excitement onboard mixed with caution in our approach and we are thrilled about this chance to attempt to cross the infamous McClure strait.