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After work today I went to the doctor’s office. I was slightly proud of myself because I was early; on the other hand, even when I’m late I usually have to wait. It looked a little busy, so I had a seat, and went for a magazine. You might have noticed that the literary value of the reading material in a doctor’s waiting room leaves much to be desired, especially in the last few years.

However, the first thing I found was a copy of the June issue of Harper’s Magazine, and on the front cover was a picture of the little president with an eleven-gallon hat. The main topic was “Undoing Bush: how to repair eight years of sabotage, bungling, and neglect”. It was a forum of prominent columnists and experts discussing the problems and possible solutions to various aspects of the little guy’s administration. They included

The Constitution
by David Cole

The courts
by Dahlia Lithwick

Civil service
by Ken Silverstein

The environment
by Bill McKibben

Science
by Chris (Chris C.) Mooney

The economy
by Dean Baker

The marketplace of ideas
by Jack Hitt

Intelligence
by James Bamford

The military
by Edward Luttwak

Diplomacy
by Anne-Marie Slaughter

The national character
by Earl Shorris


I was 45 minutes in the waiting room, and it gave me time to finish the eleven essays, and it was time well wasted. There was little that was new to me, but it did give me a different perspective on all of the hammer blows that this administration has inflicted on the United States and the world. It’s well worth reading, especially the Marketplace of Ideas, Intelligence, the Military, the Constitution, and finally the National Character.

Only this long until the King’s Horses and Men can get started on the Great Fall.

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Here is a little website with a few stories that made me smile. and also made me think of some friends on a wonderful rocky isle…

————————————————————————–

Bedtime

A small boy is sent to bed by his father. Five minutes later…. “Da-d….”
“What?”
“I’m thirsty. Can you bring a drink of water?”
“No. You had your chance. Lights out.”
Five minutes later: “Da-aaaad…..”
“WHAT?”
“I’m THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water??”
“I told you NO! If you ask again, I’ll have to spank you!!”
Five minutes later……”Daaaa-aaaad…..”
“WHAT!”
“When you come in to spank me, can you bring a drink of water?”

——————————————————————–

It was a dark and stormy night…

One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her son into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, “Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?”.
The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug.
“I can’t dear” she said. “I have to sleep in Daddy’s room”.
A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: “The big sissy”.

————————————————————————————————-

Your Loving Mother (does this remind you of anything you may have heard on the radio?)

Dear Son,

Just a few lines to let you know that I am still alive. I am writing this letter slowly because I know that you cannot read very fast.

You won’t recognise the house anymore when you come home; we moved because your Dad read in the paper that most accidents happen within 20 miles of home. I won’t be able to send you the address as the last family here took the numbers with them for their next house, so they wouldn’t have to change their address.

There was a new style of washing machine in the house when we moved in, but it wasn’t working too good. I put 14 shirts into it last week, pulled the chain and I haven’t seen them since!

About your father – he has a lovely new job. He now has 500 people under him. He is cutting the grass at the cemetery.

Auntie Maude has sent you a pair of socks she knitted, she put a third one in because she heard you have grown another foot since she last saw you.

The coat you wanted me to send you, your Aunt Sue said it would be a little too heavy to send in the mail with the heavy buttons, so we cut them off and put them in the pockets.

Your sister, Mary, had a baby this morning. I haven’t found out yet whether it was a boy or a girl, so I don’t know if you are an Uncle or an Aunt.

Jimmy locked his keys in the car yesterday. We were really worried because it took him two hours to get me and your father out.

Your Aunt Harriet took a flight from New York to Los Angeles last week, said it was the first time she had ever arrived somewhere before she had left. Last time she thinks that might have happened, the doctors said it was Altzeimer’s disease.

Your Uncle Dick drowned last week in a vat of whiskey in Dublin Brewery. Some of his co-workers dived in to save him, but he fought them off bravely. We cremated the body and it took three days to put out the fire.

Your father didn’t have much to drink at Christmas. I put a bottle of castor oil in his pint of beer and it kept him going until New Year’s day.

I went to the doctor on Thursday, and your father came with me. The doctor put a small tube in my mouth and told me not to open it for ten minutes – your father offered to buy it from him.

It only rained twice last week. First time was for three days and the second for four. On Monday the wind blew so hard that one of the chickens laid the same egg four times.

Three of your friends went off a bridge in a pickup truck. Butch was driving. He rolled down the window and swam to safety. Your other two friends were in the back. They drowned because they couldn’t get the tailgate down.

We received a letter yesterday from the undertaker. He said that if the last payment on your Grandmother’s funeral wasn’t made, up she comes.

Your loving Mother,

PS I was going to send you ten dollars, but I have already sealed the envelope.

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There were small Blues and Big Blues, Wide Blues and Narrow Blues,

Fast Blues and Slow Blues,

Running Blues, Jogging Blues, Walking Blues and Dancing Blues.

Red Blues, White Blues, Dark Blues and Light Blues,

Happy Blues, Sad Blues, Angry Blues and those with the blues.

Marathon Blues, Half Marathon Blues, 10k Blues and 5k Blues,

and there were even Relay Blues and the Children’s Blues.

I realised that the annual Blue Nose Marathon was taking place today, and for a lark and also because it was pouring rain so that pursuing my normal photographic preferences was out of the question, I decided to have a look. Not wanting to be caught in the crowds near the finish nor the starting lines, I went to the MacDonald Bridge, where the Marathon and 10k runners would cross about halfway through their respective ordeals. There were very few spectators there, and I could walk around at will. It also turned out that the rain let up enough to allow me to take a few photos.

The 10k runners came first, because the marathoners had to circle downtown twice before crossing the bridge. The first few came in fast, and there was at least one woman in the top ten. Then a few minutes later the bridge started rumbling, and a sea of mostly red t-shirts moved towards me. I hid behind the railing, and saw a vast assortment of people walking, running, jogging, Nordic walking, and skipping with jump-ropes come towards me. They ranging in age from 6 months to over 70 years old, from anorexic to those over three hundred pounds, and were wearing (not all at the same time) shorts, at least one skirt, tights, jeans, oilskins, many colors of shirt, and some very strange hats. Most were sopping wet, but all the recreational and some of the competitive runners had grins plastered on their faces.

After the mob had moved through for their loop around Dartmouth, the marathoners started coming through. The leaders were 4-5 men, most of whom were in the 40+ age range. Then there were three women, followed by some more men. I heard later that when they crossed back over the bridge the women were still doing very well. This may be further evidence that women can approach or exceed male performance in the logest endurance events. The fact that about 7500 people participated may make this a statistically significant sample. Good on ya!

Newfoundlanders placed fairly high in the middle distance events. In the 10k run Aubrey Sanders from Corner Brook came in fourth behind three Nova Scotians led by Tyler Germani of Cape Breton with a 3:44 pace, and in the half marathon William Fitzgerald of Carbonear came in second behind Shawn Brady of Toronto with a 3:40 pace. But in the full marathon the highest placing from Newfoundland was Stephen Hunt from St. John’s in 32nd place, and Monica Kidd from the same town in 56th place.
Anyway, here are some shots taken by me with my wet camera, in low light of people moving fast (and slow). They had fun running, and I had just as much fun standing there and watching them run. It almost makes me want to switch from swimming and cycling to running. Almost!

Incoming

Incoming

Something worth chasing?

Something worth chasing?

Flying High

Flying High

Chauffeured

Chauffeured
“I love exercise. I could watch it all day.”-Russell

“I love my dad. He takes me and my little brother on a 10 km trip so I can see all these people sweating and staggering and turning all these strange and interesting colors…”

Thumbs Up!

Thumbs Up!

Cool Runnings

Cool Runnings

He just hadda wear shades…

Reeling Home

Reeling Home

Perfect Cadence

Perfect Cadence

Determination

Determination
He was doing the 10 km version of the race, and he was passing some of the other runners.

Second last climb

Second last climb

Soxy Sox

Soxy Sox

Some people dare to be different, and some have a lot of fun doing it.

Latin Beat

Latin Beat

I guess the maracas helped to keep the beat?

Friendly and Happy

Friendly and Happy

“Come on, Mom! We’re almost there!”

“….yes, dear….”

“Pardon me, Miss.”

He wasn’t the oldest person there by any stretch of the imagination.

a quickr pickr post

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There were some hopeful tidbits in the news this afternoon. As a result of the recent progress and the recent weather, Captain Brian Penney of the Coast Guard said that if the winds hold steady for the rest of the week, the entire fleet could be freed (Canadian Press). Here are some highlights.

  • The heavy icebreaker CCGS Terry Fox is currently west of Stephenville and will make its way through the Strait of Belle Isle, then will scoot down the areas clearing on the west side of the Northeast Coast so as to help out between the Baie Verte Peninsula and Notre Dame Bay. She’ll be the largest icebreaker on site and should be a great help, as until recently the ice has been so thick that icebreakers had to team up at times to make progress.
  • The CCGS Henry Larsen and the George R. Pearkes were able to open up a passage for stranded boats about to be driven onshore with the ice (CBC).
  • Last week there were 100 vessels stranded. As of today there are
    • 43 virtually locked up solid
    • 21 able to manoeuevre to varying degrees
    • about 10 have sustained ice damaged and may need assistance returning to port. There may be more damage and other ships affected as the situation develops (CBC NL)
    • about 5 have been abandoned
    • about 50-60 non-essential crewmembers have been evacuated
    • emergency provisions have been dropped via helicopter to 22 boats so far

There are a couple of good things guaranteed to happen. Areas open to the east, and the east sides of the Northern Peninsula, the Bay Verte Peninsula, and Southern Labrador will start clearing out, as will the western portions of Bonavista Bay, the northwest part of Trinity Bay, some of the Labrador coastal part of the Strait of Belle Isle, etc. As the main field moves further away from the shore parts of it may start breaking up, making it easier for the icebreakers to escort the longliners through it. Some longliners may be able to scirt the pack to make it to port. The weather for much of Wednesday to Friday won’t be severe, with moderate to strong westerlies throughout (with some southwesterlies and northwesterlies mixed in).

The news is sounding more hopeful.

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As of today (to my knowledge) there are 5 Canadian Coast Guard Icebreakers involved in the rescue effort on the Front (the ice pack along the Northeast Coast and part of the East Coast of Newfoundland). The Terry Fox is the newest one involved in the rescue. So far there is one heavy icebreaker, two mediums, two lights, and an ice-reinforced vessel. As far as I can tell they are the following ships:

  • CCGS Terry Fox: This is one of two heavy Gulf icebreakers in the fleet. She left Halifax, currently her base of operations, yesterday and is rapidly steaming north along the West Coast of Newfoundland. As of 1200Z this morning she was west of Cape Anguille. She’ll probably start by helping vessels in the Strait of Belle Isle, then will move into the Northeast Coast from the northwest, which seems fairly clever to me. First, this may be the fastest way to get into the northern ice on the Northeast Coast, where many boats are stuck. Second, the ice will be moving generally east in the next while, and she’ll be more mobile than the other breakers. Third, because she’s the strongest icebreaker involved, she can make forays into the field from the west independently.
  • CCGS Des Groselliers: This is one of four medium Gulf/River icebreakers in the fleet. Based with the Quebec fleet, she was working in the Strait of Belle Isle recently, escorting boats to harbour.
  • CCGS Henry Larsen: This is the second of four medium Gulf/River icebreakers in the fleet. Based with the Newfoundland fleet, she was working on the northeast coast recently, successfully escorting some boats to harbour. Currently she is just east of Cape Freels between the Northeast Coast and the East Coast.
  • CCGS Ann Harvey: This is one of ten Light icebreakers, and is based with the Newfoundland fleet. She has been working off the northeast coast, and was stuck for a while last week.
  • CCGS George R. Pearkes: This is the second of ten Light Icebreakers, and is based with the Newfoundland fleet.
  • CCGS Sir Wilfred Grenfell: An Offshore Ice Strengthened Multi Patrol Vessel. She was working along with the Harvey and the Larsen last week. She was stuck in the ice on Wednesday, but was freed the next day.

Also, the CCGS Cowley, in the same class as the Grenfell, was sent north to help, but probably isn’t going into the pack (my brother-in-law was onboard doing some work and was talking to some of the crew). I’m pretty sure other non-icebreakers are up there near the edge of the pack with food, fuel, and equipment, waiting to help ships near the eastern ice edge with fodd, water, fuel, and with damage to the ships..

Update on Weather and Ice——————————–

The wind forecasts are almost unchanged from my earlier message. Captain Penney of the Coast Guard (as read from cbc.ca) believes that much of the real progress will start Tuesday or Wednesday, after the southwesterlies have had a chance to act. My guess is that most of the emergency will be winding down by Thursday.

As of yesterdays ice analysis map the ice field is forcast to move 5 nautical miles East for the Northeast Coast and the East Coast, and much of the South Labrador Coast, unless there are islands or coast to block movement. For the Strait of Belle Isle the ice will maintain some pressure along the Newfoundland side, but not to warning status.

Here are the current ice conditions:

FICN18 CWIS 231330
Ice hazard bulletin for the east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador
issued by Environment Canada at 1400 UTC Monday 23 April 2007 for
today and Tuesday.
The next scheduled bulletin will be issued at 1400 UTC Tuesday.

No warnings in effect unless noted.
Light to moderate ice pressure may occur in any ice conditions.

Ice edge estimated from Newfoundland near 4725N 5245W to 4720N 5220W
to 5005N 5250W to 5025N 5425W to 5345N 5210W to 5630N 5755W to 6200N
5840W then northeastward. Sea ice west of ice edge.

Strait of Belle Isle.
8 tenths first year ice including one tenth of old ice.

Northeast Coast.
6 tenths first year ice including one tenth of old ice.

East Coast.
Special ice warning in effect.
3 tenths first year ice including a trace of old ice within ice edge
except 9 tenths first year ice with one tenth of old ice in southern
Bonavista Bay. Bergy water elsewhere. Unusual presence of first year
ice in Trinity Bay and Conception Bay.

South Labrador Coast.
8 tenths first year ice including a trace of old ice.

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This is a brief idea of the ice conditions, weather conditions, and what this will mean to the approximately 90 sealing vessels still out on the Front, and to those of the Coast Guard working around the clock to save them. The basics of how the weather will affect the ice and those currently in it is fairly easy to understand, so here goes.

Ice—————————————————————————–

Warnings: Currently the Canadian Ice Service has issued new warnings in the Strait of Belle Isle, the Northeast Coast, and the East Coast. Here are some of the highlights for Newfoundland excepted from the bulletin:

  • Strait of Belle Isle :” Strong ice pressure along south shore tonight and Sunday.”
  • Northeast Coast:”Strong ice pressure along northwest shores from 25 nm west of Cape Freels to White Bay tonight and Sunday”
  • East Coast: “Strong ice pressure in southern half of Bonavista Bay on Sunday. Unusual presence of first year ice in Trinity Bay and Conception Bay.”

For those unfamiliar with the forecast regions, the Northeast Coast extends from the Northern tip of the Great Northern Peninsula to Cape Freels east of Twillingate, and includes all coastal sections and islands in between. The East Coast extends from near Cape Freels south along the coast to south of Cape Race, and it extends an average of about 100 km east of the coast.

Current Ice Field: As of today the ice field as observed by the Canadian Ice Service is shown here. If you want to understand the detailed information in the egg codes, see here. The basics are as follows: thin first year ice is 30-70 cm thick, moderate is 70-120 cm, and thick is over 120 cm. Any ice field is usually a mix of thicknesses and stages of development, and the colour codes on the ice chart show the most developed component. For example, on the east side of the Avalon Peninsula there are two small fields, designated I (near Pouch Cove) and O (Tor Bay, which contains Torbay) . Near Pouch Cove it is 2/10 thick first year ice, 3/10 moderate, and 4/10 thin first year in pans from 2-20 metres wide. Near Tor Bay it is 3/10 concentration and is thick first year ice (in this case over 120 cm thick pans).

Main Message: The general story is moderate to thick first year ice extending from Labrador along all of the Northeast Coast and south into Bonavista Bay. Trinity Bay is filled with moderate to thick first year ice, and Conception Bay has some thick first year ice. Additionally, the eastern side of the Avalon has some thicker than normal ice in the bay east of Pouch Cove , and in Tor Bay (which contains Torbay Harbour, Outer Cove, and Middle Cove).

Wind and Weather————————————————————————

Here are a few basics. First, the ice along the section of the Newfoundland Coast of greatest concern is primarily affected by the wind, followed by some local currents which are tidal and not very strong. Second, the thicker the ice, the slower it will respond to the force of the wind or the currents. Third, once the ice is moving, if the wind forcing ends it can continue to move for a long while before the water slows it down, or it impacts the shoreline, or it moves into other ice. The latter two cases will increase ice pressure within the ice or on the shore. Fourth and critical to this event, when forced by the wind, ice will tend to move about 20-30 degrees to the right of the wind. So to get the ice moving east along the Northeast Coast, you need a southwest wind. If you have a westerly or northwesterly, the ice will tend to move southeast or south and into the coast, thus aggravating the ice pressure problem, and it may continue to block passage to the ports.

Unofficial Forecast: This is primarily based on the Canadian Global model and the United State GFS model. Also, the further into the future the greater the uncertainty of the forecast.

  • Sunday: A low pressure centre passing east of Newfoundland will give strong Northwesterlies to the pack. For the Northeast Coast this means more ice pressure, especially along the shore. For the East Coast some ice will be driven south or south-southeast and will spread into some of the bays.
  • Monday: A second low pressure system moving east across Labrador and into the Atlantic will give strong southwesterlies for a good part of the day. Late in the day this may loosen the ice and start some movement off the Northeast Coast and out of Bonavista Bay and some of the bays further south. But the ice field may not open up enough to try to make port without escorts.
  • Tuesday: A third low from the Gulf of St. Lawrence will approach Newfoundland, giving another period of southwesterlies, which should continue to improve the situation.
  • Wednesday: In the wake of the third low it looks like west to northwest winds, which aren’t ideal. If most of the ice hasn’t moved far enough to the east it could be trapped on the eastern side of the Northeast Coast (i.e. New World Island, Fogo, Twillingate). But Bonavista Bay could be mostly clear by this time, and maybe the ice could clear the coast before heading southeast. However, the winds could be more southwesterly.
  • Thursday: The low persists in the Labrador sea, giving moderate to strong west to southwesterlies. If it is mostly southwesterlies it will help a little more.
  • Beyond that….

Main Message: Late Tuesday and Wednesday are the best chance to move the ice offshore, and to then allow the longliners to make it through the ice to their harbours (but they’ll almost certainly need Coast Guard icebreaker assistance to escort them through the pack). After that period, the forecast guidance indicates westerly or southwesterly winds; the more southwesterly it is, the better for boats with home ports on the Northeast Coast. The Ease Coast situation looks better, except for some west facing harbours in the main bays. Hopefully many boats will be going home by Thursday.
Implications for the sealing fleet——————————————————

Damaged boats: This is one of the first problems the Coast Guard will have. There are numerous damaged boats, some with hull damage, others with propeller damage, and many have been pushed up on the ice. With the new ice pressure warnings, other boats may become damaged. As ice pressure eases prior to the ice moving away from the coast, some of these boats may be found in a sinking condition, while others may be unable to maneuvre away from danger. If this happens to more than a few, the Coast Guard may have too many emergencies to handle in a short time.

Supplies and Fuel: Currently there is some relief with food supplies transported via helicopter to those shortest on supplies. But many of the boats have been out there for over twelve days, and many may have to wait until late this week before making it home. Fuel is also running low, and those boats that run out will either need to be towed or to get more fuel from other vessels. Finally, whether they’re in the ice or not, if they’re out of fuel they can’t move to avoid future threats.

Home ports: Historically, and to an extent currently, most Newfoundland sealers come from Trinity Bay, Bonavista Bay, much of the Northeast Coast, and Southern Labrador. The ports least likely to open up to shipping in the near future are those on the eastern side of the Northeast Coast and Fogo Island, particularly those harbours facing west to north. This is also were Coast Guard efforts are currently centred. There may also be problems on the eastern sides of Bonavista and Trinity Bays, but the western sides should open up earlier. The strait of Belle Isle is also tricky, but the South Labrador coast will have ice blown offshore for much of the week.

Penetrating the ice: Currently the ice is blocking most ports from Trinity Bay to Labrador. Even if the ice starts moving northeast or east, it may stay as a single almost solid field for a while; the longliners will only be able to get through to the coast on their own if large and hopefully safe leads open up. It is more likely that small groups will follow icebreakers through the ice. I think there are three breakers from the Newfoundland fleet and one from the Quebec fleet. I would guess that each would need to take multiple round trips. However, currently the forecast guidance indicates that through next weekend the field will become more and more disorganised. The worst difficulties will probably be on eastern sections of the Northeast Coast, the Strait of Belle Isle due to the narrow channel, and possibly Southern Labrador due to greater ice thickness.

Opinion——————————————————————

I’m very impressed by the efforts of the Coast Guard, the level of common sense I’ve heard from some of the skippers, and the willingness of some crews and skippers to let boats and people to be rescued in the face of great personal and financial losses. Currently I’ve heard of about 52 people being rescued, and of at least 5 vessels being abandoned in order to keep the crews out of danger. Also, so far no one has been put into a life or death situation.

Given the good chance to break up the pack ice this week, we may come out of this with no fatalities, and with a minimum of boats destroyed. The question of why this happened and how we prevent it in the future should be the first and paramount concern of both the provincial and federal governments before next spring.

But first, let’s get them home.

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Today the Sir Wilfred Grenfell was freed and went back to work, helping to rescue the fishermen or to free stranded ships in the pack, in the tradition of the good doctor. 99 years ago Dr. Grenfell also continued his mission of mercy after being rescued. By some strange quirk of fate, another ship named after a famous rescuer, the CCGS Ann Harvey, became stuck today and to my knowledge is still in difficulties. This  Newfoundland hero, from Iles aux Morts,  together with her father, her 12 year old brother, and their Newfoundland Dog Hairy Man, helped to save about 160 people from the ship Despatch in 1828. As expressed for the Grenfell yesterday, I hope the Harvey is freed soon, and that she lives up to the legacy of her namesake. She’s a much more capable ship than the Grenfell in the ice, and is vital for the current rescue efforts. She also can carry two helicopters at a time.

I was working on the marine weather forecast for Newfoundland again today, and currently conditions don’t look good. The ice pack is solid against the coast, and while ice pressure is slowly easing, there is little sign of a good westerly wind to push the field offshore until Sunday; a low approaching from the Labrador Sea will give strong to gale force westerlies, but only for a day or so. But the field is so solid that it might take days of good west to southwesterlies to really break up the field and open up safe leads that the fishing boats can penetrate to reach the shore. There are two other problems associated with Sunday. First, those boats in the clear east of the ice pack may have to go around the field to the south if it moves significantly offshore; for boats up by St. Anthony this may involve steaming south to the East Coast in order to get west of the field and then have clear sailing for home. Second, those boats in the field who have been damaged and are being held up by the ice may start sinking or exhibit other problems when the pressure eases and they are able to float freely.

At his point, according to some of the news, the situation is as follows. There are about 100 ships in trouble, with between 400-600 crew. There are at least three CCG ships involved in rescue operations; the Sir Wilfred Grenfell, the Ann Harvey, and the icebreaker Henry Larsen. The Grenfell is weakest in the ice, with the Harvey and the Larsen being fairly good. In addition CCG helicopters are transorting food and supplies to those vessels with the greatest need, and rescuing those willing to leave their boats. There are also SAR Cormorant helicopters standing by to help in case of urgent emergencies. In addition to the problems mentioned above, many boats of the sealing fleet have been at sea for up to 12 days already; they are running out of fuel, water, and food. To my knowledge at least one vessel is a derelict, more than a dozen are heavily damaged, and crewmembers have been rescued from at least 10 longliners. When the ice loosens enough to let the damaged boats float freely, the Coast Guard and Search and Rescue may have to move very fast to prevent a disaster. A lot will depend on how level-headed and realistic the fisherman will be; with so few rescuers and so many longliners a lapse in judgment would be a bad idea.

I’ll be working again tomorrow and next week. My best guess is that Sunday’s storm may only help a little, and that the best bet is a major low pressure system forecast to approach from Labrador for Tuesday and Wednesday, which may give enough southwest winds to open things up. There may also be a weaker system on Friday and Saturday next week to help. However, extended forecasts like this are highly uncertain.

If people don’t panic, are willing to sacrifice their ships if necessary, and to help each other as sealers have always done on the ice, they may come through okay.

Yesterday I said my hopes go out to those on the ice; today it will be my hopes and prayers.

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