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The Rock-itt : October 2011
Early the next morning, another friend, Cory, shackled our giant sled-like structure up behind his brand new truck (fresh off the cargo ship) and dragged it out of town to the place where we hoped to have Teleport lifted onto it, leaving a trail of little toothpicks behind as the bottom 1⁄2 inch of the wooden runners gradually wore away on the gravel roads. The locals use it as a natural boat- ramp area, as the water is very deep (100 feet!) right up close to the shore, where it then quickly shoals to nothing in about 10 feet. We spent the next two days winterizing Teleport – flushing the engine's cooling with fresh water and then draining it completely; emptying our water tanks and plumbing; draining the toilet etc (as when water freezes as you know it expands, and will damage – if not burst – whatever it's contained in). We took the blades off our awesome wind turbine (as some of the bored kids here have already taken to throwing stones at the irresistibly spinning blades, unfortunately chipping them), we've boarded up the windows with plywood (again, against stones), and taken off the batteries to store in a safe dry warm storage area (along with all our valuable electronics etc). We're next going to wrap Teleport in multiple tarps, and then gently drag her (on the cradle) higher up the hill out of reach of sea ice and snow drifts. Thanks again everyone for sharing in our adventure – what an experience we'v e had. Apart from Greenland, we were definitely let off lightly in the Northwest Passage section with virtually no ice (turns out this has been the lowest ice year in record!), but I'd just like to stress before we sign off here that although our updates always sound so positive and casual, sailing in this part of the world is not something to be taken lightly – ice is certainly not the only danger, and I have to admit that this sailing trip was far more stressful than anything I've ever done before. The combination of ice, unpredictable and often ferocious weather, poorly marked charts, complete isolation and self-reliance, and an ever approaching seasonal deadline, all mixed together with maintenance problems and the lack of sleep that comes with keeping a proper full-time lookout with a crew of only 2, especially on such a small and relatively fragile yacht – all makes for a mighty challenging and downright frightening undertaking. This part of the world is just so unforgiving. That said, the rewards of travelling here, and (as my Dad says of sailing, 'the freedom to make personally significant decisions everyday'), makes it all so worthwhile – so long as you take it very seriously, plan everything properly and do everything in your power to reduce the rather high risks down to an acceptable level. Even then, we're fully aware you can never reduce these risks completely.