Sunday, September 25, 2016

 

En route to Sismiut
67°35’N  54°09’ W
1°C  / 33°F
Light winds, four knots
Cloud cover, chance of rain
Sunrise 7:58, Sunset 19:23

We were woken at 02:00 with a quiet announcement that the northern lights were visible, but faint. I got up, pulled my wind pants and heavy parka on over my pjs, and lugged my camera up up on deck. The aurora was unspectacular, faint and white. There were a few other people out on deck, but we all headed back inside to our warm bunks when we saw how unimpressive the sky was. But then our 07:30 wake up call, came too quickly.Sept.25_1.jpg

We were scheduled to go ashore at Sisimiut. It would be a totally dry landing, as the Ocean Endeavour was going to come alongside the large, industrial wharf.  After our mandatory disembarkation briefing with Jason, the morning was occupied with presentations. Heather Beecroft discussed Inuit art, David Reid told passengers about his Bear Witness Arctic expedition to circumnavigate Bylot Island by ski. Our mandatory disembarkation briefing about tomorrow’s departure was followed by Scott Forsyth’s talk about photo composition, and Michael Crummey spoke about the Labrador Fishery.

We arrived at Sisimiut around lunchtime, and shared the dock with a fishing trawler. After lunch, we walked down the gangway to the wharf.  This was our first and only landing without zodiacs.  Plus, with the temperature hovering around a balmy 3°C, there was no need for rubber boots or heavy jackets — no binoculars, only cameras required today.

Sisimiut is quite hilly, so despite it being just a walk about town, we all felt we had a good work out.  We enjoyed the afternoon, exploring the museum buildings, the grocery stores, and shops in this scenic coastal town. The coloured houses brightened an otherwise grey day. sept-25_6Similar to the other Greenlandic communities we’d visited, the homes are raised on stilts or high concrete foundations built directly on the rock hillside. Many of them had marvelous views of the harbour and surrounding mountains.  Sept.25_10.jpg

There was a great little souvenir booth set up on the wharf that offered a good opportunity for folks to pick up a few last minute pieces of handmade jewellery.

We were all back aboard ship at 16:30.

At 16:45, we lined the rails of the seventh deck to see a kayak demonstration.sept-25_19There are 90 ways to roll a kayak. We watched as a local expert gave an impressive demonstration of almost all of them.  It was amazing how the way he held his paddle determined how he could roll over and get back up. The poor man looked petrifyingly cold by the end of the exhibition, though. We all shivered, watching him, the polar dippers knew exactly how cold that water was too. The rest of us imagined how cold it was.

The evening wound up in the Nautilus Lounge with a variety show, featuring talented passengers and crew who regaled each other with songs, dance, stories and overall good fun. Then we went to pack up our bags for the morning departure. sept-25_22

Not long after, an announcement came that the northern lights were visible and spectacular. Everyone went up on deck. A much larger viewing audience than at 02:00.

The lights were spectacular: green and flowing across the sky. This was the final check mark on the list of things that the passengers had wanted to see. We’d seen it all: polar bears, icebergs, and the aurora borealis. It was the perfect way to end our trip out of the Northwest Passage.

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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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