ARCTIC SEA ICE –Volga, I mean, Lena Boat Men–(updated)

The Northabout has been making better time, as it passes the delta of one of the most fantastic rivers on earth.

The Lena River is one of the ten largest in the world. It goes from nearly being frozen solid in winter to amazing floods in the summer. As I recall off the top of my head, 3% of its flow occurs in January, and 40% in August. In places the water level in the Lena River rises 60 feet during the August Floods. During the floods the salinity of the Laptev Sea decreases, so much fresh water pours into it. Along with all the water comes all sorts of Siberian trees and branches, so that is something besides bergs the crew of the Northabout have to be wary about.

My preconception was that the surge of fresh water brought north by the Lena floods created a slightly milder lens of fresh water near the delta. Maps show the area as ice-free. Therefore I was surprised when on the 17th they mentioned having to take care about bergs in fog. This shows the importance of on-the-scene reporters.

Northabout 19a DSC_1142-600x400


They have made decent time east across the Laptev Sea, but complain a bit about meeting areas of ice in waters the maps show as “ice-free”. This occurs because, once the amount of ice dips below a certain percentage of a “grid-cell”, it stops being counted. I’ve seen maps where ice is not counted as “existing” when it is high as 30%, but the saner maps tend to use 10% as the cut-off point. But, when you are in a small boat, 1% can damage your craft if you pull off a Titanic. Also, the ice does not arrange itself in a dispersed manner in the “grid-cell”, but can be a sort of swirl, and form a line of bergs like a ice-bar or ice-reef, which must be navigated.

These sailors want to haul ass and don’t appreciate anything slowing them down, but the above picture shows something else they may have forgotten about:  “Twilight”.

Until you have experienced a winter up at high latitudes, you cannot imagine how depressing the winter darkness is. Conversely, until you have experienced a summer at high latitudes, you can have no idea how intoxicating the endless sunlight is. Dark ceases to enter your calculations, and you enter a sort of state of delusion, until the dark comes creeping back and twilight returns.

As these sailors hurry east they are going to increasingly be confronted by darkness limiting their visibility. Their solar panels on the deck will be less and less effective, and as each twilight grows more dusky they will be less and less able to see the stray bergs they come across in “ice free” waters. Do they have searchlights, and the generators to power such lights? (Also the stray bergs can create mini-fog-banks in calmer weather, which is yet another thing to slow them down, as such fog renders searchlights useless.)

The Northabout is facing increasing challenges, even as they thought they had left sea-ice in their past, and sailing would be clear and easy.  Best wishes to them, as they approach the entrance to the East Siberian Sea.



Obuoy 14 0818 webcam


Obuoy 14 0819B webcam


25 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE –Volga, I mean, Lena Boat Men–(updated)

    • It will take something unthinkable before homo sapiens realises we will never know what Gaia has in store.

      Models are simply modern day soothsayers.

      • Hmm. That is a more provoking comment than you realize.

        You see, the word “soothsayer” actually means “truth-sayer”. In other words, a “prophet.” However, besides genuine prophets there are such things as “false prophets.”

        Prophets are usually seen as being fortune-tellers, focused on the future, but they are in reality suppose to be most interested in the here and now.

        Most of us have been burned by people promising false things would come to us in the future if we did certain things in the present. For example, in my childhood a certain cartoon tiger stated that if I ate a certain cereal I’d feel “Gr-r-r-r-eat!” In actual fact, (after a brief sugar high), I’d feel rotten, and I sure didn’t feel great sitting in a dentist chair getting my cavities filled.

        Because we have been burned by false prophets, we tend to have a cynical attitude, and be sick of people who attempt to exploit us for their own, selfish gain.

        However if we get sick enough of such behavior, perhaps we could turn to telling the Truth. Gosh! What a radical idea!

        If we all, and I mean all, really loved the Truth and stood by the Truth, I think we might have an unthinkably better idea of what so-called “Gia” has in store.

        Sad to say, people don’t trust Truth the way they should, and therefore I fear you may be right. It will take something unthinkable to shape us up.

    • Thanks. That was a good link.

      The crew of the Northabout are noting how quickly the nights are getting longer. The teenager assumed it was because they had moved further south. No. It is just that the days get shorter with amazing speed, that far north.

      People from the south can have no idea what it is like. I spent a year at a school called Dunrobin in the northeast tip of Scotland, and when I arrived it was early September, and the days were still longer than the nights. The speed at which the nights gained length and power was a little frightening.

      Further north it must be even more unnerving. I recall you saying that when you were up there you abruptly began noticing a skim of ice in water buckets at dawn.

      Winter comes on very fast, as you say, and for people not used to it, it must be a shock. One day they are intoxicated by everlasting sunlight, and then suddenly darkness looms up. You can bet your bippy it is a wake-up call. Now watch them hustle.

  1. Note the Naughtyboats post and especially the bit about the water temp and the Lena River ( oh and first snow & Barrow is 30F this AM): N73 21 E130 50 pressure 110 air 0, water 5, 12 knot winds Genoa up 18 Aug 19.30 UTC 0400 local time 19th Aug Laptev Sea. Well I came up on watch this morning at 0800. ice, ice and more b****t ice. I finished my watch and the ice cleared, came back up at 1700 UTC and guess what ! yep, ice, fog and our first snow. But the longitude ticking up, very nice when it clicked over130 on my watch . Interesting water temp, I think it must be the drainage from the river delta. lots more bird life here.

    • Yes, isn’t first-hand reporting wonderful? The maps show no ice at all. (Actually anything less than 15% tends to be reported as zero; what they are seeing is that 10% sea-ice can be an obstacle and slow you down.)

  2. FYI …. Yellowstone looks to be at freezing this AM and we had frost warnings for the rural areas northwest of Calgary. The perils of living at 4000 ft ASL.
    And so it begins ……….

    • The warm Atlantic might let summer hang on into September, along the east coast, but also might feed a coastal hurricane. The cold will be squeezed west I think, which should give you fellows an early fall.


    • Short answer is “No.”

      Long answer is a funny story.

      After your phone call I zoomed to the mail box, and saw a book. It was wrapped in some odd stuff that refused to tear, and I had to use a kitchen knife to open the package. Inside was not the book about Climate Science I expected, but a very plush and beautiful Christian Daily Devotional.

      “Hmm”, I thought to myself, “Bonnibrai apparently thinks my skeptic side needs the gentling influence of Christian thinkers.”

      Then I double-checked the label. Oops. It was addressed to my wife. I’d opened her mail. I got some ‘splainin’ t’do.

      Apparently the tracking device you used latched onto the wrong book-in-the-mail.

      In any case, I’m back to waiting. But it was nice to hear your voice on the phone.

      • Oops! Wrong address.I hope it all gets sorted out.Blame the mix up on me if it helps.Anyhow best wishes and I hope you enjoy it. BTW I think we all can use more of the “gentling influence of Christian thinkers.” these days.

      • Your second phone-call put me on the right path. I drove over to the Farm-childcare and there it was, midst a heap of business mail I am studiously ignoring, this being Friday night.

        Thanks again. I think it will become my next “beside book.” (I am just finishing up the first volume of “The History of the English Speaking Peoples.”)

        I did read the final paragraph, on page 572. (This is only cheating in the case of fictional novels). I think I am going to like “Hubris”.

        Have a happy weekend.

  3. That’s great! I have so many books on the go now.I’m about 1/4 way through Manchester’s 3 volume biography of Churchill.Retirement has been good so far. I believe that “The History of the English Speaking Peoples.”Is the first time I came upon the expression ‘Muscular Christian’ been a long time.Cheers!

    • “The Last Lion” is great. It was not a good bedside book, because I found it riveting, and tended to read too long and late in the night.

      To this day I can’t figure out how Churchill kept his courage up, during the dark period when people were a lot kinder to Hitler than they were to him.

      Sometimes I feel in his shoes, when people are kinder to Alarmists than Skeptics. I sure wish I had whatever it is that keeps guys like Churchill indomitable.

      I suppose it boils down to a belief in Truth. I’ve got that, which is a start, at least.

      • It’s a foregone conclusion now that the science is settled and we’re doomed if we don’t pay up.Did you remember Clementine asking Winston for the names of specific units he was deploying in WW1, and he sent her that information? Plus ça change.I wish I had the discipline to finish one book at a time instead of this literary smorgasbord.

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