This was the sailing plan for Arctic Safarì posted on the Adventure Canada website — the route that 202 passengers (and staff, myself included) thought they were taking.
However… in the Arctic, ice changes everything.
Sunday, August 5, around 09:30, I was tossing the last few things into my suitcase before heading downtown to meet the rest of the AC staff. The phone rang. It was MJ (Matthew James) Swan, our fearless expedition leader. He wanted to know if I had any suggestions for things passengers could do in Ottawa on Monday.
Monday?! We were scheduled to board a charter flight about 06:30 arriving in Resolute Bay around 11:45 where we would board the Ocean Endeavour.
MJ said there was a change of plans. Ice had moved into Resolute Bay and the ship couldn’t get in. It was forced to turn back partway through Lancaster Sound and head back to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. We would now be flying there to board the ship in Sondrestrom Fjord.
The AC core staff had spent a few harried days and nights reading the ice charts, then when it looked impossible to get into Resolute, rejigging plans and rechartering planes from the Canadian Arctic to Greenland. Our flights wouldn’t be leaving until after 18:00, so they were trying to organize tours for the passengers who would now be spending the day in Ottawa.
I arrived downtown for the staff meeting at the Metropolitan Brasserie and met most of the expedition team (some were already on the Ocean Endeavour). Terrific to see some familiar, friendly faces. I was looking forward to travelling again with these great folks. Always nice to meet and get to know new team members too. The 25 of us sat around tables pulled together, while MJ laid out the new plan.
Our cruise would depart from Kangerlussuaq, sail up the west coast of Greenland, then cross over to Baffin Island where we would stop in at Pond Inlet. We’d visit Dundas Harbour on Devon Island, cruise east along the Baffin Coast, and loop back to Greenland to fly out of Kangerlussuaq. It would be a different trip then planned, but it would be amazing all the same. The only thing passengers would be disappointed about missing was Beechey Island.
At 18:00, we met the passengers in one of the rooms at the Chateau Laurier. MJ broke the news in the best possible way. He showed them the ice charts. The red blob of colour around southern Cornwallis Island, representing 9/10s ice, made it obvious that not even an icebreaker could get into Resolute Bay. Everyone took it very well. And really, the idea of touring Ottawa was appealing to many who had never been here before or had just flown a great distance to be in Ottawa. Passengers hailed from Australia, New Zealand, United States, England, and from across Canada.
I was home in my own bed by 22:00, with my alarm set for 06:00. I had to be at the Chateau Laurier by 07:00, with all my gear, ready to spend the day touring with passengers. I could hardly wait. The adventure had begun.