Two very exciting things happened today.  First of all, we reached the ice!  Finally after twenty one days out of Murmansk, I think, we’ve reached the pack ice. We can only go through thin ice because despite the design of the boat, what limits our capacity to go through ice is how good the helmsman is at avoiding icebergs.  So far we’ve done okay.  When we got to the ice we had to take sails down and put the engine on so that we could manoeuvre properly.  I really enjoy dodging in and out of the ice floes, it takes a lot of effort, you have to be aware of everything in front of you despite your restricted vision because boats don’t turn very quickly.   A couple of hours ago we passed from the Kara Sea into the Laptev Sea through a thin passage between the mainland and an island.  To mark this memorable occasion we hit heavier ice.  It’s now much more difficult to find ways through and you’ve got to be even more alert than normal.  Once we get through this ice we’ll be able to speed up again and take a more desirable course.  During my watches I’ve seen three seals lounging on icebergs and one in the water.  I like seals, they’re funny.

The second important thing was Nikolai’s sixty first birthday.  If you remember in an earlier blog I said that we were visited by a lady named Margaret Gorely in Bristol.  What I don’t think I told you is that she shares the same birthday as Nikolai, so happy birthday Margaret.  In Bristol she/you gave me a bottle of champagne for either the baring strait or Nikolai’s birthday.  I kept the bottle a secret until today, I had is cunningly disguised as a very uncomfortable pillow for over two months and I’m sure we’re all very glad that I gave it to Nikolai today and he greatly appreciated it.  Barbara made another cake for Nikolai and for dinner we had fishcakes and mashed potato.  Margaret had asked me to save the cork from the bottle and keep it on the boat, so I’ve done that it’s now keeping the Minecraft skeleton horse company.  Some of us had got Nikolai birthday presents , I got him a puffin hat and The Mother gave him a bottle of whiskey.  The watch I’m on now is quite difficult, we’ve got a lot of ice around and the air temperature is less than half a degree above zero.

I’ve just got off my watch and in the last half an hour something very irritating happened.  We came across ice that was too thick get through.  We’ve had to turn around and are now trying to get close to the shore where we think there is less ice.  At worst we’ll have to anchor in a nearby bay for a couple of days while the ice melts.  Personally I think there’ll be a more open patch of water closer to land.  In any case I’m tired and want to go to bed so I’ll leave you now.  I’ll write again tomorrow if possible.  Bye.  Happy birthday Margaret.