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Captain's log: Into James Ross Strait

Work continues after passing through sea ice
  • Aug 21, 2014
  • 396 words
  • 2 minutes
A look at the ice in James Ross Strait Expand Image

August 22, 2014, 22:00 Mountain Time
Today, we headed north into James Ross Strait, on the northeast side of King Edward Island, to complete the servicing of our navigational aids in that area. Transiting James Ross Strait, along with Simpson Strait, offers an alternate route around King William Island  to allow ships to avoid the ice of Victoria Strait.

Upon reaching the north entrance of the James Ross Strait, we immediately encountered high concentrations of sea ice. Using the ice charts generated by the Canadian Ice Service and imagery provided by the Canadian Space Agency, we were aware that the area had been assessed as mainly first-year sea ice. We put our nose into the ice, and found it easy for our icebreaker to transit through. Video footage (see below) from the bow of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier gives a great sense of the ice we transited for about an hour. This ice, however, would still pose a significant difficulty to other ships and yachts that will be selecting safer routes through the area for their passage. 

Expand Image
Ice chart August 23, 2014. Courtesy of the Canadian Ice Service, Environment Canada.

In fact, our ship has been in communication contact with three yachts over the past few days. Each was heading eastward through the Northwest Passage. These types of vessels used to be a very rare occurrence, but have become increasingly more regular in recent years.

Once back into open water, our Coast Guard crews resumed their navigation aids work and the Canadian Hydrographic Service continued their seabed surveys.

While the calm weather and light winds are helpful for our regular navigation and hydrographic programs, they’re certainly not helpful in clearing out the sea ice that is locked in along the north and northwest side of King William Island, including the areas targeted for this year’s Franklin search.

The good news new is that weather does change quickly, and we still have time over the next two weeks for the ice conditions in the search area to improve. Now, like all of Victoria Strait Expedition partners, all we can do is wait to see how conditions will change, and be ready to adapt when they do. This is the Arctic, after all, and being able to adapt to the environment will be critical to our success.


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