August 19th, 2015
We were told that we were going the wrong route, that we would be missing out on what the Northwest Passage is all about. To us the Passage is all about the ice, wildlife and to know that we can achieve something amazing as a family.
If you’ve been following our tracker you would have seen that we opted to go to the west of King William Island down Victoria Straight instead of James Ross Strait to Gjoa Haven. In 1903 Amundsen sailed to Gjoa Haven and spent two winters there. Yes there is a lot of history in the area but we’re not all about plaque’s or memorials we want to experience the “wild” Arctic. This is why we chose the path less taken with Victoria Strait. It was our last chance to play in the ice.
Leaving Peel Sound and heading to Victoria Strait we didn’t see a lot of ice. There was a section of thick ice that we decided to go around because it looked to be way too dense for us to cut through. Luckily we did this or else we wouldn’t have gotten a visit from one of the Arctic’s most coveted creatures – the polar bear.
This was the most amazing experience. He came so close to us that I my heart started race, I didn’t know whether it was because I was excited or scared because he kept coming for us. What do you do when a 700kg/1400lb polar bear is swimming towards your boat at speeds averaging 6kts? You ditch your camera and run down to put the second motor on! He decided that maybe he was biting off more than he could chew with our steel beast and turned back around to the safety of the sea ice.
We hung with him for awhile until he became bored, or hungry, and headed further into the ice. You could tell that he was never threatened by us, just extremely curious. If I was that big and beautiful I wouldn’t be shy either.
We kept on sailing around the ice into open water.
It wasn’t long before Carl spotted probably the fattest seal I’ve ever seen. He’s been christened Jabba The Hutt.
Later that evening we came on to more ice and yet ANOTHER POLAR BEAR!
This one was even more curious than the last and even a bit on the playful side, rolling around and sliding down slippery icy slopes. What a joy to watch.
We were still with the other boats and we all decided it was time to load our rifles and bring them out on deck, we were preparing to enter the ice. The thought of becoming trapped in ice with a hungry polar bear and dying sunlight wasn’t the most settling thing but we needed to change our course.
The polar bear didn’t mess with us and we reached open water before the sun completely set. Phew.
So when it comes down to it, did we miss out on anything going the Victoria Strait route? Maybe. Did we have the best day EVER? TOTALLY!!!! It was the best day on our Northwest Passage journey so far and it may have been the last time we encounter ice and polar bears.
Today Carl and AJ spent the morning putting back together our cockpit enclosure to help keep the watch crew warm. It’s a nice thought to think we’ve gotten through the majority of the ice – touch wood – but saddened to leave the ice behind.
Carl and I already know that we’ll be back here someday and maybe even attempt the Northwest Passage again. This place is too magical to stay away from.