Heart of the Arctic – Day 7

Thursday, July 23, 2015
Lower Savage Islands, 61˚42′ N  65˚45′ W
Foggy, poor visibility, 7˚C


This is just to illustrate how poor the visibility was. There is an island there.

Our morning zodiac cruise between the rocky Lower Savage Islands was put on hold because we could barely see the islands for fog. 1-IMG_5064Hardly even make out the rocky island that we are anchored near. We are at the Lower Savage islands at the north side at the east entance to Hudson Strait.

I had an interview with Todd Korol of the Toronto Star. He is writing a story about Digges Island that should be published in September. I’m delighted that that rocky, isolated place captured the imagination of more than just me.

Terrific morning throat singing workshop with Heidi Langille, and Stephen Borys’ talked about Inuit art at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which is the largest collection of Inuit art in the world.


The mist still hanging over the top of the islands gave great atmosphere to the afternoon zodiac cruises. Twelve zodiacs headed out but we stayed in pods of three with half a kilometrer between each pod. For the first cruise, we made passage through a wide main channel between the islands. 6-IMG_5166


Sunshine and icebergs at the end of the channel between the Lower Savage Islands.

It was absolutely breathtaking with clumps of snow clinging to the sides of the rocky islands.

We spotted a seal’s head bobbing near one rocky outcrop, but it wasn’t close, and only poked out of the water for 15 seconds. Hardly long enough to focus your camera. Needless to say, I didn’t manage to get a photo of it.

As we neared the end of the channel, blue sky emerged between enormous white clouds. There were a couple of icebergs beyond the channel too, but they were distant and we turned back.

The air had been warm as we headed out, but the wind was in our face on the way back and it was freezing.


Lynn Moorman rescued a cap floating in the water. And it was an Adventure Canada hat. Lynn tracked down the owner – so much for finder-keepers.


Dawson Freeze, zodiac driver extraordinaire, drinks mulled wine in the zodiac as we wait for the next passengers for the tour.

After the first passengers embarked onto the ship, the restaurant staff brought out a tray of styrofoam cups of mulled wine. They cups were passed from zodiac to zodiac, and warmed us while we waited for the next posse of passengers to board the zodiacs for the Lower Savages cruise part II. It was fun floating out in the dreary mist between the ship and the islands.

For the second cruise, we weaved among smaller channels between the islands. We went slowly because we were in narrower lanes of water and sections of the water were shallower. One zodiac even got hung up briefly on rocks on the bottom. With the mist and the islands being close around us, it was a very mystical cruise. It gave me a greater feeling of isolation, with a strong sense of being far from any sort of humanity (–other than the 230 souls on the trip). The landscape is so different and alien from the world we normally live in.

8-IMG_5178The tide was lower on this trip out and it had left ice, clinging like shelves, eight feet above the water line. It was eerie in the mist with the imposing wet rocks and overhanging ice.

It was also amazing to glimpse into the caverns beneath the ice. Green algae had grown on the rocks and on the underside of the ice in places. Water dripped quietly from the frozen undersides,  melting in the warmer air. At times, we passed between rocky narrows into little, claustrophobic dead end bays.

9-IMG_5182 The ice was awesome in the truest sense of that word. We travelled close to but didn’t dare pass beneath these massive icy overhangs. One large shelf fell with a tremendous crack behind us as we were leaving one of the little coves.

We arrived back at the ship, in time for afternoon tea. 12-P1140004Everyone was happy to warm up with hot drinks and sandwiches. They also had really yummy sugar cookies, which were impossible to only eat one of. Then I went to hear Ree talk about whales in the Aurora Lounge.

At Recap, Matthew James discussed the ice conditions in Cumberland Sound, which was on the itinerary for tomorrow. The ice charts showed 9/10s ice, impassable by an ice strengthened ship like the Ocean Endeavour. Only an ice breaker could get through it. In fact, the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Terry Fox was in Cumberland Sound at that moment, and warned us off attempting to get in. So, plan B is to travel along the ice floe edge with the intention of spotting wildlife, such as bears and seals on it.

It was disappointing not to be visiting Pangnirtung, the community in Cumberland Sound, noted for its glorious mountainous backdrop. It’s also famous for printmaking and tapestries. However, most people had purchased art at our stops in Cape Dorset and Kimmirut, so were okay with not going.

10-IMG_5122After dinner, we were treated to a movie shown at the Explorer’s Club Polar Film Festival in New York in the spring.  Maina was about a First Nation woman who meets and falls for an Inuit man. It depicted an incredible clash of cultures, but an interesting portrayal of both. It was a terrific film and thought provoking end to a sensational day.


About Season Osborne

I am a writer with a love of Arctic history. After finding a photo of Capt. Joseph-Elzéar Bernier, who claimed the Arctic for Canada in 1909, I was inspired to write my master’s thesis on Bernier’s contribution to Arctic sovereignty. This ultimately led to extensive research into Canadian and ‘foreign’ expeditions to the North, which morphed into my recent book, In the Shadow of the Pole: An Early History of Arctic Expeditions, 1871-1912.
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One Response to Heart of the Arctic – Day 7

  1. Those photos of the underside are breathtaking!


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