Archive for August, 2008

Geraldine leaves the Arctic

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

It is 8 PM ADT, and we’ve just been boarded by the USCG vessel Hamilton. Randy, you will remember our boarding in Dixon Entrance after 9/11. This was the same experience – routine safety inspection – out of sight of land, but this time we are 13 miles from Russian territory. We just crossed the Arctic Circle too, so that is another big milestone. We have been above it for nearly a month.

The remaining big deal is that tonight we will go as far west as we will go on this trip. Dutch Harbor is a little bit east of us, as is Hawaii. Seas are building, and we are not looking forward to tonight’s shift.

Later tonight we will go by the Diomede islands. The east island belongs to the US and the west island is Russia. There is less than 1 mile between the two. Can you imagine living with that tension every day? Too bad it will be dark as we go by; probably won’t get a picture.

We just passed a 700′ freighter that has 100′ beam. This is a very big boat and the only one seen other than the CG Cutter Hamilton today.

Oh, PS.   We passed the routine safety inspection with flying colors and have the “gold” certificate to prove it.

With Point Lisburne in Sight

Saturday, August 30th, 2008


We are in the Chukchi Sea enjoying a beautiful sunny day and calm seas with Point Lisburne in sight where we will again turn left.  Pat and Shane ran the boat all morning while Walt and I slept.  We had lunch together and now they are asleep until dinner (Chicken Pot Pie!). We are seeing all kinds of birds and some seals so far and above us we have that same cloud cover that looks like a wing which we have seen throughout the trip. It is 60 degrees out so we have been enjoying time on the fly bridge being outside. Pictures can’t express the vastness of the oceans as we look in every direction and see water to the horizon day after day. We haven’t seen any more ice since last night’s patch Pat and Shane navigated us through. We also haven’t seen any other ships since Barrow, so all is very peaceful and calm.  We all feel very grateful and thank you for praying for us as we are carried along by God’s grace.

Shane Cousteau

Friday, August 29th, 2008

(70 deg 38′ N, 161 deg 30′ W) After fueling successfully, we left Barrow with the bright sun glittering on the ice field. It wasn’t bad to work our way through it and we saw several grey whales nearby as we moved along. It is so different now than when we first started the trip because we all found our reaction to the ice was not to fear it but to see the wide path available through it. We have been through much worse now. As we motored along, Shane was thinking and presented the idea of donning his full wet suit which he hadn’t used, to do a swim before leaving the Arctic! After all, didn’t we want to see the propeller damage from being aground? So over he went and took his camera to show us pictures of the prop edges all chewed up. He said he was warm all over except his hands and they began to ache right away in the 36.7 degree water! He is the man for all the dangerous assignments!

We went for several hours ice free then Shane & Pat hit yet another band of ice in the dark so it was difficult to see.  It is unbelievably tense to drive in these conditions. We are now more than 100 miles SW of Point Barrow (& NE of Siberia!) so we hope the ice is behind us now.

Northern light longings

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

(71 deg 16.3′ N 154 deg 43′ W) It is about 4:00 am and we have been on our watch since 1:00. We are now 30 miles from Barrow. We observe the sun in an interesting way on these nights. The sun is going down right at the bow as we travel west. At 1:00 if we look to starboard at, 2:00 on the horizon, and there is an orange glow which travels along the horizon until it is almost behind us, and then the sun rises. This has been happening each night and is something very beautiful to look at as we go. I got a picture to show you. It is dark before us so we can’t see any obstacles and pray through the night that God would clear a path before us and He has been so faithful. When we went up Baffin Island the skies were mostly clear and we had so much light through the night. This has not been the case through the Beaufort Sea; clouds cover the sky and it is more than a month later. We hope to have a night that is clear and get the opportunity to see northern lights. We did see them while in Tuk while aground and it was so cool. Do you remember my telling you about seeing them out the plane window when going to Paris 2001? Both times the lights were white and moving about as if coming near and then drifting back.

The throttle on the engine has started sticking and keeping us going at full speed ahead! Only a bad thing when you want to stop. We have been running constantly at 1300 rpm and when the driver lowers it to idle, it takes 11 minutes for the engine to slow down. We first discovered this as we came into Cross Island, and Shane could not slow down so we went in a circle until the motor did slow down enough to anchor.

We have seen several boats with AIS in the fog and contacted them to make our presence known and that has been fun.

We had pizza for dinner last night and continue to have salad from Salinas. The lettuce was packaged in a bag that prevents deterioration and it works! I want to contact the company when I get home!

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go — Genesis 28:15