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PostHeaderIcon Holiday mode

It felt like a holiday today, a beautiful warm, blue sky morning with the occasional gentlest of breezes ruffling the otherwise mirror calm water. We didn't have to do any big crossings of fjords of bays so could potter along near to the shore, admiring the many permutations of steep rockfaces. We adjusted our course only to avoid several eider duck nurseries, the cute little chicks scurrying along behind mum, everyone clearly terrified of us. Here most animals are hunted.

We saw 3 motor boats today, as we paddled past the entrance to a fjord housing a small Inuit community of Kangiqsujuaq, the first people we've seen since Quaqtaq 4 days ago. None of them came over to say hi.

Despite the wonderful conditions, we covered our "bare minimum" distance today of 35km, just 7 hours on the water. It felt a bit like a rest day after 2 long, hard days and we fancied stopping at a decent hour and having an earlier night. The forecast is pretty good for the next few days so we should keep making good progress.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

PostHeaderIcon Motivation highs and lows

I wanted to be at home having a hot bath, and watching a movie snuggled up on the sofa with the wood burner roaring. I’d have roast chicken and roast potatoes for dinner and some fresh fruit afterwards. Why did i choose, instead, to spend my time battling into a headwind in pea soup fog, unable to see anything for the last 2 hours, with stiff, tired muscles and freezing feet in the 4 degree Arctic? This morning I wondered what my mother and sister probably wonder more often! Why chose to send a month on an expedition in a cold inhospitable place and give yourself a limited number of days to achieve a target? I could be on a hot beach with a drink and a swimming pool?!

More realistically, I really wanted to land, put the tent up and go back to sleep. Some minutes, hours or even days, I am not enjoying myself, it’s hard work, I’m tired, the elements are conspiring to reduce our hard grind to a snails pace. But i have been through the ups and downs enough to know that my smile will return when I see something beautiful, or have a seal pop up beside me, or a tail wind springs out of nowhere, and later I’ll feel good that I fought through my self imposed battle.

3 hours later, the fog lifted, the sun burned down brightly on us and the wind dropped. A seal popped up behind us. The fog played with us all day, clearing to show us the island ahead, then creeping in stealthily to cover the hills in a blanket of white, so we could see no trace of land. At 6pm, after over 9 hours on the water, a favourable current picked up and sped us towards Cape Neptune. We hadn’t planned to paddle that far but we couldn’t resist a free ride. We flew around the corner and into a channel behind Cape Prince of Wales, with a couple of knots of assistance. We landed near a small cabin, still inside the channel, with the shortest portage of the trip, all of 10 metres up to where our tent is now. So after a low start to the day for me, we covered over 55km, enjoyed some beautiful light displays, and had flocks of birds fly so close to us in the mist that the noise of their wing beats startled me. I’m feeling very good about being out here in the beautiful
Canadian Arctic. But I am looking forward to a hot bath and a movie in front of the fire.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

PostHeaderIcon 50 shades of grey

We woke to grey skies, rocks and sea. Intermittent grey rain fell on us as we packed. But monochrome can be beautiful and each grey was different, the rocks varied from almost white near sealevel, to lichen clad black high on the hills, with dark green grass clinging to shallower gradients where it could.
We launched at 7am onto a sea of liquid mercury, lightly agitated at first then becoming more alive around the headlands, with our first real swell of around 2 metres rebounding on the steep cliffs to form a lively sea. The scenery was breathtaking, even in black and white, with barren rock walls rising steeply from the sea , reminding me of northern Norway or Iceland. Mist clung to the peaks, a veil to enhance the beauty. We saw 2 seals, more curious than the others we spotted, and a tiny minke whale. There are fewer birds along these loose cliffs although a few groups of pigeon guillemots flew by.

The wind was low like the clouds and we made the most of it, covering 64km (34 nautical miles) in almost 12 hours afloat. We didn’t land once all day as there wad nowhere convenient without a 1km detour and we wanted to make good distance. We inky have 11 days left to get to Salluit which is approaching 400km away so we are under a bit of pressure to make hay while the sun shines!

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

PostHeaderIcon Gusty day

We only made 14 nautical miles today with an increasing wind which threatened to blow our paddles out of our hands, and blow anything away that wasn’t tied on tightly. SE sounded good in the forecast as we are now heading roughly west but the coastline is heavily indented with many steep valleys. Its very beautiful, the landscape had changed dramatically since 2 days ago. In Ungava bay a tall hill was 60 metres, now every headland soars steeply up to 100 or 200 metres, jagged impressive peaks interspersed with more distinct valleys and beaches. These narrow valleys are very effective wind funnels and each time we crossed a bay, we’d cross a line from the shelter of the headland into the fury of a sidewind. Whitecaps, cats paws, waves breaking on us… we’d endure the onslaught for the 2 or 5 km crossing before the wind bent around slightly behind us at the far end pushing us onwards for a few hundred metres to rewards our efforts. Then we’d round the new headland and do it again.

After lunch, the wind was angry and we felt we were using a lot of energy and running the gauntlet, risking being blown out to sea if the wind increased. We turned towards a beach 1.5 km away, now battling straight into the blasts. It took us 30 minutes to reach the beach where we are now camped. We will get an early night and hope for a calm early morning start tomorrow.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.