Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Simpson Strait
68°37’N  97°44’W
Winds 30+ knots from the west
-2°C/ 28°F

My alarm went off just before 03:00; the estimated time we’d be passing between the Terror and Erebus. I had great intentions to go out on deck and pay my respects to the sunken ships and the men of the lost Franklin expedition. However, the ship was rolling so much, I paid my respects from my cozy bunk. Milbry Polk later told me that she and the young folks, went out and toasted the explorers with a glass of whisky, then tossed the whisky overboard (the contents, not the bottle).

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My alarm went off again at 06:00 and this time I did go out on deck. The wind had picked up during the night. It was so windy, I couldn’t open the door on the starboard side, but got out on the port side. We were travelling through a narrow channel, Simpson Strait, en route to Gjoa Haven on King William Island’s east side. It looked shallow on either side and we were cruising very slowly.

On deck, I met Anne from Stromness who is a fan of John Rae and the other HBC company men from the Orkneys who came to the Arctic. She loves lichens and spent most of yesterday’s hike photographing beautiful black flat lichen that had a ruffled lacy edge.

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King William Island en route to Gjoa Haven

The wind kept up throughout the day. There were interesting presentations to occupy us as the ship rolled towards Gjoa Haven. Our photographer Scott Forsyth gave an amazing photo session. His image colours are so brilliant, they pop. He said his camera picks out colours the eye doesn’t see. Unfortunately, my camera doesn’t pick out any colours I don’t see and often doesn’t even pick out the ones I do.

Pierre Richard gave us a primer on the region’s marine mammals. Wildlife sightings are as unpredictable as the weather, though. George Sirk talked about how best to use our binoculars, which will be helpful for spotting those mammals.

Thirty knot winds blew us along.  Unfortunately, when we arrived at Gjoa Haven, we discovered that the wind had also blown ice into the bay, and we couldn’t get in. It was disappointing not to be able to  visit the community, but a reminder that our itinerary was at the mercy of nature.

After dinner, we watched the film Crossing the Ice – A journey Through Hell and Back. A crazy, fun movie about two young Australian fellows, Cas and Jonesy, who travelled to Antarctica, intending to cross the 1,140 kilometres to the South Pole unassisted.

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My bed turned down and my towel turned into a dog with a chocolate nose.

I met Janis Parker, she is my ex husband’s cousin Pauline’s husband, Mark’s, boss. (confusing, but less than six degrees of separation.) Janis’s printing company prints the brochures and material for Adventure Canada, and this was her 19th AC trip. I can certainly understand what brings her back year after year.

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About Season Osborne

I am a writer with a passion for 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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