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Northwest Passages: Sailing into Terror Bay

I wish I was in Sherbrooke now

What ho! The voyage of the Bluster & Guesswork, my beautiful boat in realistic sailing sim Sailaway [official site], continues at breakneck speed (0.9 knots). For those joining us, I have set out to conquer the Northwest Passage, that difficult and deadly route between Atlantic and Pacific ocean. But one month into the journey and we have been, er, delayed. As captain, I refuse to take responsibility. My crew have been slack and disobedient. I am confident my journal will exonerate me of all blame.

May 17

We’ve sailed alongside the Boothia peninsula, or rather my first mate and autopilot, Mr Tooltips, has sailed it. There are still 2519 nautical miles to go but we have now arrived at King William Island. Or, I guess it’s somewhere out there in this haze. I can’t actually see it. I haven’t sailed very close to shore yet, you see, so I have no idea what solid land looks like when you get really close. I only ever see grey, solid bumps on the horizon. No colour, no discernible features. I’ll have to get closer.

This is the island where Franklin and his crew reportedly spent the winter of 1846-47, their ship stuck in the ice. Although how anyone knows that, I have no idea. Last year an Inuk crewman told some science men the whereabouts of one of the wrecks of the Franklin expedition, the Terror, because he saw the mast poking out of some water (the other ship, the Erebus, was found in 2014). But, by a dumb coincidence I don’t completely understand, the name of the bay in which the Terror was eventually found was already called Terror Bay. It was named after the ship in 1910 by some hoighty-toighty knowledgeable people, but nobody except the Inuk people knew the wreck was actually in that exact spot.

The breeze has died down completely, as if the weather wants us to be careful, and to pass the island as quietly as possible. But I don’t take orders from the wind. Mr Google, chart us a course! That’s right, we are going into Terror Bay. Why? Why does the brave adventurer go anywhere, my good man? We are going just to say that we did.

May 18

The wind has not only died down to the strength of a weak mole pup, it is also now against us. The new detour into Terror Bay has added an extra 40 or so miles to my journey, which will take a few days probably. But at this rate, we’re still not close to the bay itself.

Tippers is doing his best at the wheel and Mr Google currently has nothing to do except inform me of the names of nearby islands. There’s Jenny Lind Island, he says. There’s Scott Keltie Island. There’s the Royal Geographical Society Island. Riveting.

The ship’s cat (my cat) who lives in the cabin (my house) has jumped on me from behind and is knocking my rope hand (mouse hand) and causing me to make spelling error’s in this log, which I have removed for the sake of tidiness.

May 19

Ah. Yes, I see what has happened here. I logged onto the ship just as the Bluster was entering Terror Bay. For the first few minutes, everything seemed okay, except that the sails weren’t trimmed very well, which is unusual for Tippers. He must be asleep at the wheel, I thought. I’ll just trim the sail myself.

I lower the gennaker and unfirl the genoa. I know all the names of these things now. I’m more or less an experienced and able sailor. There is no reason I could not do Tippers’ job for him. I know what I’m doing.

“Ran aground”

Oh. That is neither what I wanted nor what I expected to happen. I meekly press the button marked “Can you help me please?” with the implicit understanding that this is tantamount to me looking at Mr Tooltips as he emerges from the cabin, with a wild and tired look on his face, wondering what the hell has happened and why we are now sideways, and saying to him: “Tippers, I think I have made a small error.”

Unable to rudder the boat free of our newfound agroundiness, even after radioing the helpful sailors of the world for help, I have to reset the game in an attempt to fix the boat. For a minute, after restarting, we seem to be sailing slowly but safely onward, no longer imprisoned on the spot. But then the pop-up box happens again. “Ran aground”.

This is bad. But I jimmy with the sails and rudder a little more, and appear to steady the boat. It looks like our adventures will continue after all. I am relieved and excited to continue. Mr Tippers, take the helm! There is no stopping the Bluster & Guesswork, jewel of the Northwest, swiftest vessel in Christendom, unconquerable empress of the seas.

“Ran aground”

I think we may be in a troublesome position, men.

June 1

It has been twelve days. We are still stuck in Terror Bay.

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About the Author
Brendan Caldwell avatar

Brendan Caldwell

Former Features Editor

Brendan likes all types of games. To him there is wisdom in Crusader Kings 2, valour in Dark Souls, and tragicomedy in Nidhogg.