9°C / 38°F
We need two charter planes to take our 151 passengers, plus Adventure Canada staff, north to Kugluktuk where we’ll board the Ocean Endeavour.
The flight to Kugluktuk (formerly Coppermine) was only 2.5 hours. We disembarked to cold drizzle – actually fine, wet flakes, bordering on sleet. But as we entered the grey portable air terminal, we received a warm welcome. The outgoing passengers and staff of the ‘Into the Northwest Passage’ expedition had formed two lines. As we walked between them, they sang a rousing rendition of Stan Rogers’ Northwest Passage, clapping and stamping their feet in unison. – A great start to our trip.
I put on thicker fleece and waterproof gear before leaving the airport. Some of the guests opted to walk the two kms in the rain to the beach. I was assigned to dock duty, so joined those taking the little shuttle bus to where the
Ocean Endeavour lay at anchor in the bay. This time it all felt familiar. It was no longer a novelty, but still exciting to cruise out to the ship in a zodiac.
My room, 4124, is in the inside passage (which means no porthole) near the mudroom. I have two narrow beds, a two drawer dresser, tiny desk, and a closet to hang clothes in. I dropped my pack and headed back up to the dining room for lunch.
Afterwards, the full company gathered in the Nautilus Lounge for an expedition briefing. Jason Edmunds, our expedition leader, gave us the general itinerary with the caveat that nothing is set in stone with travel in the Arctic. We are at the mercy of the elements, particularly wind and ice, and need to take each day as it comes.
Lois Sukuluk, Edna Elias and Robert Comeau gave us a marvellous Nunavut Welcome. Lois lit the qudliq (stone lamp). Robert performed three drum dances – nanook (polar bear), tulugaq (raven) and tuktu (caribou). Edna spoke about what ‘welcome’ means to the Inuit. She is a great storyteller, and talked about her Inuk name, Ekhivalak. She was named by her grandfather after his lead dog who was smart, strong and his best dog. It is the name of a leader, which Edna certainly is, having been mayor of Kugluktuk and commissioner of Nunavut from 2010 to 2015.
Our briefing was followed by a mandatory lifeboat drill. The emergency alarm called us from our rooms to head to our muster stations , then we went out on deck, and were handed life jackets. The sky was bluer, but the air was chillier. One look at the covered orange lifeboats and we were grateful it was a drill, and headed inside to warm up in the lounge. Shortly afterwards, the Ocean Endeavour weighed anchor, and we sailed westward through Coronation Gulf under blue-grey skies.
We had 45 minutes before supper, so I went out on deck with binocs and camera. As the ship sailed passed low lying rocky islands in the wide Coronation Gulf, I felt the Arctic wind picking up. My third Arctic cruise adventure had begun.