Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Larsen Sound, entering Franklin Strait
71°14’N  97°10’W
-4°C / 25°F
Strong 45 km head winds
Overcast sky, periods of snow
We set our clocks ahead one hour.

We were all rocked to sleep last night as we headed north through Larsen Sound towards Franklin Strait.  Conningham Bay on Prince of Wales Island was our destination where we would disembark at 09:00 for an early zodiac cruise.

However, a 50 knot headwind and big seas slowed our passage, delaying our arrival. Sept.14_2.jpgWith the high winds, it was too dangerous to be out on the icy decks. We would reassess our zodiac cruise when we arrived at Conningham Bay.

From Conningham Bay, the plan was to transit Bellot Strait, then disembark at the abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company post, Fort Ross, on the strait’s east entrance. So, I gave a talk on the history of Fort Ross. When I mentioned that in 1943 post manager Bill Heslop and his wife Barbara had to be evacuated by plane, Edna Elias said that she knew the Heslops when she was a girl and he was post manager in Cambridge Bay.


The foul weather didn’t let up by the time we arrived at Conningham Bay, and it was no surprise that our stop was abandoned. No one wanted to get into a zodiac with the rough weather, anyhow.

We all gathereSept.14_5.jpgd in the Nautilus Lounge to hear Jason’s talk about sea ice. He showed us the ice maps for north of Somerset Island where we were headed.  We were all acutely aware that the ice conditions can change quickly. Where it is open water one day, wind can move ice in the next.

It was snowing lightly in the early afternoon when we arrived at the entrance to Bellot Strait. Passengers stood on deck in the cold and wind, cameras capturing the spectacular rugged strait we were travelling through.


Low dark rocky hills on either side of Bellot Strait were dusted with white.

When we came out the other end at Fort Ross, the wind picked up and we couldn’t land. Instead we had to seek a sheltered anchorage to the south to ride out the storm overnight. The plan is an early morning visit to the abandoned HBC post.


Before recap and our daily briefing, Lynn Moorman gave us a Geo‐overview of the land our expedition was travelling through – pretty old rocks.   After dinner, we enjoyed a literary evening in the Nautilus Lounge with author Michael Crummey. His stories and poems were funny and poignant: made me laugh and also caught in my throat.

Even though we had anchored in a protected bay, we were still rocked to sleep a little less gently than we would’ve liked. We all hoped for calm seas in the morning.

Edna has been giving us an Inuktun word of the day. Today’s appropriately was Ayurnarmat = it can’t be helped.


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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