The rest of the passage is rather uneventful until the
Canadian shores and we settle nicely in an approximate 4 on/4 off routine. We
are even blessed with a day of blue sky and sunshine and the occasional
iceberg on the horizon for entertainment. Thindra has been saling/motoring alongside, about
2.5 miles on our starboardside and it’s been fun “racing” them and having some
radio contact every now and then. We split as they go south to Pond inlet
while we make the decision to carry on to Arctic Bay. There is a severe weather
approaching Lancaster Sound and we need to seek shelter for a few days. Pond
Inlet has just opened from the ice but Navy Board Inlet on the west side of
Bylot island is still blocked with ice. We don't want to risk being stuck in Pond
after the storm or waste precious time to go back around the east of Bylot.
Rather, we prefer to cover as much ground as possible.
After the day of sunshine, the fog returns with a vengeance. But so does the wind and it's nice to finally put some sails up after too much motoring for our liking. With 15kt of wind right behind us, we sail gently westward with full main up and genoa poled up. We have been so pleased with our genoa. It is a super heavy sail but its range is astonishing. With the ability of poling it out in light stern winds and furling it partly in higher winds, we can cover a very wide range of wind speed and direction and more often than not, it saves us the hassle of hoisting the spinnaker.
Canada greets us with a very shy ray of sunshine, and lifts the fog just enough to see the snowy patches along the northern coast of Bylot Island. The ice charts have shown a lot of ice through Lancaster Sound, in its whole width from 6 miles from Bylot northern shore. As we hug the coastline, we can see the ice far on our starboard side and keep a vigilant eye for the odd berg.
By the evening of the 11th, the fog lifts completely and the wind picks up considerably as we enter Admiralty Inlet. When I come out on deck, we still have full canvas out although it’s blowing 30-35knots from our starboard quarter. We immediately proceed to furling the genoa and reef the main sail. Quite a hectic procedure in high winds as we need to gybe to hide the headsail behind the main to unload the pressure and furl then turn the boat slightly more into the wind to reef the main. I glimpse at the anemometer and notice gusts of 45 knots. I can barely hold the helm. Steering becomes difficult with the overloaded sail. The whole procedure certainly gets my heart pumping as the adrenaline shoots through the skies. It is both scary and exhilarating at the same time. Never felt more alive! My gloves didn’t do a good job and my fingers became frozen to a point of throbbing pain. Finally, with 2 reefs in the main sail, we settle much more comfortably at 4 kts speed. Seabelle is going great despite a 2m swell.
As we turn into Adam’s sound early in the morning, the wind eases right off and the clouds make way to a beautiful blue sky and sunshine. Next minute, we find ourselves amidst a narwhal hunt. About a dozen outboard boats zoom right past us to enclose their prey. When nothing comes of it and they head back into the fjord, they all come alongside us and say hi, giving us a very warm welcome. More and more groups appear as we approach Arctic Bay. I can see a narwhal grasping for air through the binocular and the harassment from the hunters is hard to watch. Hopefully we get to see some of those unique tusked whales alive while we wait out for weather here.
As we pull into Arctic Bay, S/Y Caprivi and S/Y Sentijn are already here. We drop the hook by 9am and although catching up on sleep seems like the sweetest notion, we need to do an oil change while the engine is still warm. Cruel burden but a necessary one to keep our indispensable Yanmar happy.
A deep but short snooze later, we proceed to hitch a ride to the petrol station at the edge of town. There is no fuel dock here, and we need to bring our empty jerrycans. We are amazed by the friendliness and helpfulness of the local inuit people. Everyone smiles, engages in conversation and goes the extra mile to give us a hand. A very first impression indeed!