IQALUIT – CLOSER TO THE ICE
LIFE IN THE HIGH NORTH
The summer season of the high arctic is closing in these days and new ice is building slowly and glues together the open gaps between endless small and large chunks of ice that has drifted around the arctic with the wind and currents following well known channels and straits around the artic cap.
Lancaster Sound, Franklin Strait and Maud Gulf are famous areas full of historic drama and tragic stories about men and ships lost in the ice and cold. The big legend of this area of the Northwest Passage is of course Roald Amundsen who first sailed successfully through with little Gjøa of 70Foot during the years from 1903 to 1906.
Everyone who lives up in this area today are familiar with Amundsen and they admire and respect him because he also respected the inuit way of life, and gave them credit for teaching him a profound understanding and visdom that led to his success as an arctic explorer. He also expressed a fear for their future due to their vulnerability towards the new and so called modern world. He saw the beauty of the Inuit life and their incredible ability to survive, refined over thousand of years in close connection with the core of nature.
I agree with him and I am sorry to say that his prediction was right and his fear was entitled.
Arriving Iqaluit at the south end of Baffin Island, capital of Nunavut region.
The Inuit population in Iqaluit is in great majority and has adapted (freely or not) to the modern lifestyle, which of course has happened at the expense of their own culture and tradition.
Low tide: Oh Lord, my boat is so small, my engine so big etc.
Shaping the future – with or without the ice.
VISITING THE CANADIAN COAST GUARD
We have spent the last week up in Iqaluit now and it has been extremely nice and useful to hang a bit around in the capital of Nunavut. Our main issue was, among meeting people with practical knowledge and experience on the ice issue, to meet up in person at the Central Office of the Canadian Coastguard, Nunavut region, and give them a general understanding of our plans for next summer.
There we met Jean-Pierre Lehnert, who heads up the Marine Communications and Traffic Services office in Iqaluit. He gave us an exellent introductional understanding of the ice situation in the Northwest Passage during the summer season and adviced us on what the typical pit falls can be for a ship entering this area.
This summer has been quite difficult from an ice perspective with high drift ice density in the channels that we need to enter next year to get in to Cambridge Bay from the east. So this is a after all bit of a lottery with key factors like weather and wind directions during the summer season.
We have from the beginning put priority on avoiding putting ouself in a stress situation, not to let us feel having short of time, in any way, neither in the preparations nor in the execution of our expedition.
Everyone we have spoken with emphacises that this is highly important. This is also the main reason why we decided to delay our departure from Norway until next summer (2014). The Canadian Coastguard are equipped with several ice-breakers that are postioned around in this vast coastal area, north of the american continent . They are there to support anyone who crosses through the Northwest passage and they also are taking part in research activity in this area of the arctic that is becoming more and more important now that the arctic ice-cap sadly has diminishing steadily over the last decades. And as UN recently have concluded with 95percent certainty is at least partly caused by human unfluence.
Head of the Coast Guard in Iqaluit and Nunavut, Jean-Pierre Lehnert kindly adviced us on how to tacle the challenges when approaching the high arctic north and the Northwest Passage.
Jean-Pierre liked the Maud paper. We all love a good story.
A MELTING ARCTIC ICE CAP
We have been thinking quite a bit about the fact that the ice situation due to global warming is giving us a possible better access to bring Maud out of the ice grip. Maybe she wants us to bring her home to tell us something. The men onboard Maud were dedicated to do research in the arctic. At that time said to be the best equipped scientific expedition ever organized. They spent almost seven year in the high arctic and three of the crew gave their lives during the Maud expedition. Sverdrup and his men were immensely dedicated to their mission and collected invaluble materials and knowledge, that helped us understand more of the major mechanisms of nature on a global scale.
These systems are those we have to observe, understand and respect, and act according to when shaping our future life on this planet. This is the major challenge of our time.
Morning in Iqaluit. Nature is our breath of life.
CBC SUPPORT AND MORE
The day after our arrival in Iqaluit we were asked to come for a Television and radio inteview with CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). They have followed us cloesely ever since we announced our intentions and early plans to salvage Maud and hopefully bring her back to Vollen and Norway, back in 2011. This is much appreciated from our side and I do feel that the general public in Canada knows more about our plans for Maud then the Norwegian public do. Let us see how this will develop in the coming year. Our aim has a long time perspective so we are just extremely happy to be in the process. Maud is a patient old lady and so are we. At least we like to think that we are.
As the internet connections can be pretty slow in Iqaluit in general we were happy to be offered a possiblity of setting up a little MRH office at CBC and drink from their cyber-well. while we were in town. A big thank to Patricia Bell for all her support and entusiasm. Super man Chief technician Brian Willoughby at CBC showed to be quite a creative and interesting man, and he inspired us in many ways.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) follow our project with great interest.
Brian at CBC has a big heart and we had wonderful conversation.
FINDING THE ROUTE
During the days in Iqaluit and in solitude in many ways, Bjørn and I grasped the opportunity to draw up the sailing route for the return trip from Cambridge Bay to Vollen. On CBC´s grand flat screen TV we gave Tandberg Polar (our tug) and Jensen (our barge) a modest speed of 5 knots over the blue waters on google earth.
Its a bit of a paradox that we havent done this test in any detail before, only doing rough estimates, but when being away from Norway and all the daily focus on practical preparation, it is not always easy to make room for such studies.
Also we got a better understanding of the route while in Iqaluit as both the Coast Guard and our new friend Pier Sauvadet, an extremely experienced world sailor who, in the later year, has been drawn close to arctic adventures. I will tell more about Pierre and his latest boat project later. We might well end up of seeing him again. Pierre gave us valuable advice and support on how to approach the Northwest Passage from the east, and a general advice seem to be that the Greenland Coast is favorable when entering the Davis strait and Baffin Bay from the east, towards west.
A scetch for the route home, which is only an estimate for effective sailing.
Bjørn is already deep into the ice.
Departing Iqaluit as the sun sets over an endless landscape.
We are now flying across to the west and Cambridge Bay to have a quick look at Maud, and tell her that we are doing our best to be well prepared for next years adventure.
Next news report will arrive in a few days.