Aug 22, 2018 NWP day 19 Iqaluit, Nunavut

Iqaluit is a bit of a shocking return to the South with an avant-garde airport, big pick up trucks everywhere, a paved ring road, line-ups of colorful government buildings and gangs of kids wearing hoodies and tight leggings.

Narwhal tusk inside the Legislature

It is also very much the North with the distinct culture and language of Nunavut, and still the frontier with wilderness all around and of course the ruggedness of Frobisher bay.

A storm is brewing, we have gale winds blowing and some showers and there is nowhere to hide. No harbour for the boats, no lee for the people. Iqaluit was started there as an army base for Distant Early Warning or DEW. The traditional village called Apex is smartly located at the end of a 2.5 km smugglers coastal trail on a beautiful sandy beach and in the lee of a hill.

We actually walk there to see the original Hudson’s Bay post or white house with red roof in Inuktituk.

We also walked all through the Territorial park bordering the airport and the river. Camping is obviously encouraged and there are dozens of permanent waterproof tents throughout the park. Locals are fishing for arctic char in the falls despite the signs saying not to.

This is the last post for this trip as we are flying home now. Thank you for following and all the encouraging comments.

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Aug 21, 2018 NWP day 18 First Air to Iqaluit, Nunavut

Early start to walk to the airport at the top of town, no taxis in Pond! We are booked on First Air, feeling lucky for our confirmed seats although they cost as much as a return trip from Victoria to Europe. And that’s a two and a half hour flight only to Iqaluit, taking off on a gravel runway with no control tower. This said we are pleasantly surprised by a wonderful Starbucks coffee and a delicious sandwich. Service is good in the true North. Also, you can board without a security check and walk unescorted to the plane. Today, we are lucky, flight 883 coming from Arctic Bay is only 30 minutes late.

We have three more flights after that to get home. After a stopover in Iqaluit, the next one will be on Canadian North to Ottawa, then two more with Westjet.

There are two other boat crews in the airport. Like us they will not pursue the NWP this year. One boat is going to Halifax and the other somewhere South, both leaving some crew members off. One of them mentions that 2018 is the coldest summer on record up here since the sixties.

It sounds like everyone has listened to the Coast guard warnings.

Fredoya leaving Pond inlet photo Cam Knight

We feel bad to abandon the rest of our crew. The plan is for les Marseillais to get off in Nuuk, Greenland. Meals will be dull without their unique sense of humour impenetrable to anyone not born and bred in Marseille and impossible to translate.

Harry is to go as far as St John’s, Newfoundland recrossing Baffin bay twice to help the Freds and meet up with his wife in Boston. We will miss his adventure stories and good company.

The Freds are talking about the Azores, the Canary or the Antilles. They need to fix the autopilot, the left rudder and a few other things urgently before going off shore again. Our friendly and hardworking hosts deserve some downtime and a bit of luck.

We had no alternative but to heed to Mother Nature, we’ll be sailing our 40 foot Dufour up the BC coast again soon and hopefully enjoying a bit of Indian summer weather. It’s not so bad at all, who knows, we might even -in fact likely- spot whales!

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Aug 20, 2018 NWP day 17 Pond inlet 89 NM total 738.8 NM

This is it, we are on to plan B. The ice reports have gotten worse and are forbidding, no way to get to Cambridge bay, or Gjoa Haven or even just through Lancaster sound for at least 10 days and there are no guarantees anyway. Most boats if not all 18 that were waiting are turning around and so are we. Even if we got through the first part later, we are almost certain not to be able to get past Cambridge bay or Tuktuyaktuk at the best. It would be too late in the season to negotiate the Beaufort sea with so much ice, winds, and darkness.

The Canadian authorities notified Fredoya directly that the conditions were not allowing for a safe transit and that boats deciding to persist against their recommendations would not receive assistance making their way through. They warned that they should be prepared to overwinter on the way.

Best to heed to that, so this morning we turned around, heading South to Pond inlet again. It’s foggy and wet again, with icebergs to keep us alert at the helm. There is a feel that summer is already over in the Arctic. We make our way back to Pond inlet slowly in swelly seas. Surprisingly, I manage to keep seasickness at bay.

We anchor in front of the Village, surrounded by many good size icebergs, it’s chilly out.

Good thing our Skipper has prepared a special treat for tonight, the brandade de morue is finishing to bake in the oven. Fred fished the cod, salted it, desalted it , Fredo boned it.

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Aug 19, 2018 NWP day 16 Tay bay 2nd night

We were planning to poke our head North into Lancaster sound but after hearing from Muktuk about the conditions, we opt for a walk on shore hoping to sight some wildlife. We dinghy across the shallow silty bay, Fred carrying the safety Remington in his backpack.

Tay bay with the glacier

We are not very lucky with the wildlife and only see a gaggle of white geese on the tidal flats but the arctic flora is worth the effort of walking through the swampy grounds.

We returned to the boat thoroughly soaked from the heavy rain and wind in the face.

Dinner makes us all feel better as we are joined by the crew of Muktuk. Fred brings out his tender seal and then we devour Alexandra’s chili, polenta and cake over sea stories. They have already done the NWP both ways and have decided yesterday to give it a pass this year due to the ice conditions. They say that they are not prepared to spend the winter in Cambridge bay with two teenagers.

We have also heard of other boats turning around, one has gone to St Pierre et Miquelon, one is off to Panama. To be continued…

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Aug 18, 2018 NWP day 15 Tay Bay 86 NM total 649.8 NM Latitude: 73.49247 Longitude: -80.71597

We are going North from White bay to Tay bay on the North West corner of Bylot Island. We start at 6 am with no wind, no fog and no rain for a while, then all of the above. Winds reached 40 knots in the evening and we have a magnificent ride downwind under Genoa alone, or even a partially furled genoa.

Our speed is good and we arrive past many glaciers to the narrow channel into Tay bay safely. Inside the bay, there is not much shelter from the wind but we have a huge delta anchor, 100 meters of chain and a good muddy bottom. So when another storm at 40 knots goes through in the middle of the night, the captain does not wake up, I am the only one listening to the whistling and slapping in the rigging.

There is only one other boat anchored in Tay bay, a forty foot aluminum hull French boat called Muktuk with an Austrian family on board. They spent 22 hours crossing Lancaster sound from Cumings inlet through thick ice, and some very large floes. But they did spot a Polar bear and her cub floating on a small piece of ice. A high price to pay.

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Aug 17, 2018 NWP day 14 White Bay 23,1 NM total 563,8 NM

We lost signal yesterday shortly after leaving Pond Inlet, so today the post is by satphone, which means no pictures. Sorry about that. I will add them later.
Yesterday was a delight, the fog lifted and we went West in Eclipse Sound 36,8 NM under power as there never seem to be much wind in Eclipse Sound. We had a small scare with the engine but this was fixed quickly and we anchored safely in a natural harbour on Baffin Island between Emerson and Curry Island across from Frechette island. The sceneries were grand all around us with incredible cliffs reflecting in the calm waters. We did get the autopilot part but in the end, it still does not work, looks like we need more parts. Story to be continued. Dinner featured Arctic char, yet another treat!
This morning, we had a shore excursion and the beachcombing produced a giant whale vertebrae and a narwhal head with a very small fragment of the small tooth left, the long tooth had been poached sadly. All this to be verified by experts. This is just my guess.

At 11am, we go although the fog has not quite lifted yet. We motor along the coast of Curry island around the cape and angle South, a very light breeze finally pushes the fog away and we are presented with landscapes reminding me of the Grand Canyon, because of the scale and the geological formations. We keep pushing South and arrive in White bay. The sun is out, the air is fresh and we climb up the mountains for a higher viewpoint of the canyon-like bay. It feels as if we are the first people ever to walk there, we build two cairns with flat rocks. The ground is very wet and muddy and there are a few flowers that are beginning to wilt. Summer is almost over.
There are six loaves of freshly baked bread on the galley counter as we go down the companionway. It smells great and it’s nice and warm.

We are at 79 degrees West, the furthest we have been so far from 56 degrees W in Upernavik. The weather is abnormally cold for the season, the global warming seems to be reversing with two year old ice lingering through the NWP. The ice map is not improving either, in fact some areas that were melting are now showing red again.

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Aug 16, 2018 NWP day by 13 Frechette island in Eclipse sound 36.8 NM total 544.7 NM

We went to visit Kisha and Ruda at their camp by the river yesterday and walked by old round houses build with stones, sand , mosses, lichen. There are many bones of whale and other mammals and birds emerging from the ground. Kisha says that they were built by the Tuniq, a very small people but excellent hunters, at the time of Thule.

There is no dock in Pond inlet, so no fuel dock, and we top up the diesel by ferrying cans from the fuel truck on the beach to the boat.

Although we did get our auto-pilot part last night, and Fred installed it, it does not do the trick, seems that it might be the motherboard that’s failing. As we reach Emerson island, we stop the engine to call the technical support via satellite phone so we can hear clearly. This does not work and when we go to start the engine again, it does not start.

We call the manager of the COOP store to get a tow , the only number we have. Channel 16 is not within range. Louise alerts the RCMP. We talk to them and we agree on one hour to try to fix the engine before they send the tow. At the 55 minute mark, the engine starts. We resume our way to the mooring as planned and let the RCMP know we are good. By good, I mean the engine is running, but no progress on the autopilot. We keep moving towards Frechette island.

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Aug 15, 2018 NWP day 12 still hanging in Pond Inlet Hamlet

We get woken up this morning by rumbling noises along the hull of the boat. This is just some flat pieces of iceberg that are travelling fast with the current and hitting us pretty hard. We receive quite a few hits, the bergs pivot as they hit us and continue their drifting East. We then watch them hit the two other boats anchored behind us. Only the tanker is spared, having relocated well offshore towards Bylot island. The floating line delivering fuel cannot be put in jeopardy. The tanker comes only once a year with gasoline, diesel and kerosene in different tanks, 7 million liters in total. We seem to be fine although a tiny bit shaken, yes not just stirred.

It’s just one thing after another, now that Fred got the heater to work again with an extra pump and lots of air bleeding, we did not get our autopilot part last night. It stayed in Iqaluit. First Air is just as unreliable as Air Canada. There is only one flight a day so crossing our fingers for tonight.

Narwhal in the library.

The library

Salmon fishing canoe

We have another walk in the barrens today, this landscape really grows on you.

On the beach we see the nets used to catch arctic char, one fish per dog! I want to be a dog in my next life.

Although we cannot reply to your

comments, we love your encouragements and all the kind words. It’s been wonderful to get all your news.

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Aug 14, 2018 NWP day 11 Pond inlet bound

We are hoping to pick up the broken part for the auto pilot from First Air this afternoon, already a day late and now the plane is late. We have thoroughly been back and forth and back again, we know this town pretty well by now. The dust, the zipping ATVs, barreling trucks add to the fun.

A Russian cruise ship with 80 passengers has come and unloaded some of them in large expedition zodiacs so the airport is crazy.

Good thing we spent over three hours walking on the beach this morning. The flowers were gorgeous and we spotted a narwhal carcass missing head and tusk.

Eclipse sound and Pond inlet are stunning when the sun comes out on the glaciers on Bylot island.

The dogs are all chained here and they sleep to pass the time. They do great us as we walk past with a cheerful tail wag.

And finally since you are all wondering about our dinner tonight, it’s arctic cod fished by Fred in Greenland.

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Aug 13, 2018 NWP day 10 on shore Pond inlet

We land the dinghy on the beach getting slightly wet due to the swells since there are no docks in Pond Inlet.

Then we walk west on the beach for about 2 mm and it feels really good to see the green hills and wild flowers. When we reach the river we walk up to the bridge but before we cross we stop to talk to a couple camping near an old abandoned settlement.

Kisha is a retired Mountie from Iqaluit and his wife Ruda is a native of Pond Inlet. He speaks English very well and translate in Inuktituk for her. They spend the summer in a waterproof tent she has sewn fishing arctic char in the river with nets. They heat the tent and cook the fish on a homemade replica of the traditional stoves. She has her Ulu and he has a harpoon/knife for protection from the Polar bears. He tells us to be very aware of the bears, that they are not very aggressive, but that they can be unpredictable.

We go to the COOP store where iceberg lettuce and chips are both $9.99. Then we go to the Northern Store, originally started by the Hudson Bay Company. The post office is there as well and a Timmy booth. The post-mistress is very talkative and is very reluctant to sell me 2 stamps for Canada. She kindly recommends that I get the 8 stamp book picturing a woman with a fur hood who looks exactly like her friend. So I do!

Then we walk past the Provincial government and the high school, past a very modern home.

Finally as we get ready to get back to the boat, we have a long chat with four little girls in grade 2 and 3. They learn English at school and we have a long conversation. They all have lots of siblings and many dogs, very bad teeth but bright smiles and seem quite happy playing on the beach completely unsupervised and talking to strangers.

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Aug 12, 2018 NWP day 9 Pond Inlet Nunavut 9NM total 507,9

We start the morning with seven showers , each one of us getting a turn.

Fredo also put a load in the washing machine on board, a small genie that can take 8 kg and return them smelling fresh again using 60 litres of water. The ultimate convenience. Fredoya is so well equipped.

Fred serves a good lunch of smoked halibut and coleslaw with fresh baked buns and yogurt for dessert. Then we each get our daily treat of one calisson d’Aix en Provence , an almond based sweet brought by Helene. Life is good in the NWP.

Dinner is even better with tender seal steak and roast potatoes and French crotin de Chavignol.

We have been cleared by Canadian Border officers with great alacrity, so all is well, we can go to shore in the morning.

Our neighbouring berg before dinner and after.

And other neighbouring, the coast guard Pierre Raddison, with its own helicopter.


[Status publish + 3 hours]

[Tags: nwp, northwest passage, Pond inlet, beloeil island ]

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Aug 11, 2018 NWP day 8 Beloeil island total 498,9 NM

We are in sight of Baffin island , about 15 miles from our chosen Anchorage south of Bylot island. We have gone through thick fog and rain, but it’s lifting a bit as we approach land. We can see snow and ice on Baffin island. It looks like a Christmas card scenery. It’s chilly on watch and tea is a real treat when you get relieved by the next dress for the North pole crew member.

Two very large icebergs greet us as we get closer. Fredo has hoisted the courtesy Canadian flag and we are ready for clearance from Canada Customs. This is it, as we enter Pond Inlet, we are in the Northwest passage.

The entire crossing of 370 NM took four days with two overnights.

We have planned to anchor on the way to Pond inlet Nunavut at Beloeil island so we can rest a bit after 3 days of agitated seas.

Our auto-pilot part should be at COOP in Pond inlet Monday evening, we are all excited to have a cultural day tomorrow.

[Status publish immediately]

[Tag: NWP, Nortwest passage, Pond inlet,Baffin bay.]

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Aug 10, 2018 NWP day 7 Crossing Baffin Bay further West

Dunnery and I have been married 33 years today, we are giving ourselves rain-checks for celebrations. The hour long watches continue day and night. It is not harder at night because there is no night. It’s no longer a midnight sun , moot point when it’s that overcast anyway, but there is no darkness. The few isolated icebergs we pass are easily visible as they reflect the light.
We are in the middle of Baffin bay, no land visible, only birds to keep us company. Eta to land is Saturday night.

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Aug 9, 2018 NWP day 6 Crossing Baffin Bay at sea about 55 NM total 183.9 NM

We start crossing Baffin Bay at 11:45 towards Dundas Harbour on Lancaster sound. The heater is still not cooperating and after about 3 hours driving with fog under auto-pilot, It stops working as well. Daughter Veronica is our saviour, she managed to order and ship us the part for the auto-pilot by First Air, and it should be there on Monday. We will pick it up at the COOP store. In the meantime, we take one hour watches driving the boat in the elements. And catch sleep in between.

I got sea sick when we stopped the engine, to diagnose the auto-pilot and after dinner, I am really very sea-sick. I put a patch on and after a pretty green face 4 hours, it starts working and I feel human again despite the swells. We are sometimes under genoa and sometimes motor-sailing, the wind is DDW, hard work.


[tag NWP, Northwest passage]

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Aug 8, 2018 NWP day 5 Itivsalik 69.3 NM total 128.9 NM

Foggy departure at 7am, with a light wind from the South. The morning is a treat despite the fog as we pass monumental icebergs and incredibly artistic ice sculptures, that remind us of swans, sphinxes, towers, forts, an ice-cream cone with caramel drizzle and even a thousand carat blue diamond ( a few of the bergs are completely transparent and a sharp shade of blue). We are going North along the West coast of Greenland.

Around noon, we have lunch under way, a nice carrot and slaw salad accompanied with foccacia, choice of sausage/walnut or cheese/rosemary. By the way, dinner last night was delicious “redfisk” a kind of dorado, served with green beans, and cooked perfectly. We eat it all every meal with delight as all the fresh air makes us very hungry.
By afternoon, the winds have really picked up and the waves are bigger with chop. The icebergs are numerous and very impressive and sometimes intimidating. We squeeze through some ice mazes and it takes great focus to meander safely without hitting any of the smaller pieces of ice especially when we are under sail. I forgot to mention that it rains all day, or to quote Helene, ” it’s rain only interrupted by showers”. Outside temperature is 9 and inside is much the same as the attempts at fixing the heater have not yet been entirely successful. So ” cool temperature interrupted by cold spells and tea” sums up the day.

The big surprise or disappointment, or both is that when we arrive in Nuusuaq with hopes of shopping at the village shop for groceries, the entrance to the bay is completely closed by a nicely aligned string of giant icebergs. We try to make our way through a very small break between shore and an iceberg, but it is just too narrow and we have to pivot and retire the way we came, feeling almost trapped in a fortress of ice, surrounded by high towers of blue and white ice with waves breaking hard on their base. For a few seconds, it’s pretty eerie in the gray weather and the fog patches. But this is what we came for, it’s grand.

It’s lucky we find another bay, mostly clear of ice only about 7 miles away. Dinner is only delayed a few minutes and I am actually called up by the chef to shell the wild mussels. That’s a priority, off I go! I so need my dinner after this 12 hour day. We have reached 74 degrees North, a first for me.

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Aug 7, 2018 NWP day 4, Sardlerssuaq 25.6 NM total 59.6 NM

We had a delicious dinner of Arctic char given to us by the crew of Destiny. The night was comfortable at anchor despite the heavy rain and howling winds. By late morning, after checking the forecast, Skipper Fred decides that we are going to go North along the coast of Greenland. We leave just past noon after a lunch of fresh prawns and coleslaw. I am at the wheel for a while quickly becoming drenched and cold. So Harry and Dunnery take over and take us through hundreds of small and gigantic icebergs. The ride is spectacular despite the mist and rain. We hit quite a few of the smaller ice cubes, and the noise on the hull is terrifying at first. Then, getting used to it, we relax and enjoy the show. By the end of the day, we reach the latitude of Ivnarssuit, the village that made international news with their view blocked by an iceberg. Turns out that berg is not so gigantic at all, I have a picture of it for you to check later, but the news was as usual much hoopla for nothing. Now, we are anchored in a small bay across from that village. The new plan is to keep going North along the Greenland shore one more day before crossing Baffin Bay.
All is well with the food, the sleep, the company and the navigation. We have no way to know if the SPOT is working but I keep giving position and a ok message daily. We have a little heater problem, so it’s slightly chilly but our best people are on it! We are also on water rations, as we do not collect rain water. [end]
[NWP, Northwest passage]

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Aug 6, 2018 Day 3 on the NWP. Aappilatoq West Greenland 26.5 NM total 34.6 NM

Unfortunately, the Satphone did not send the picture yesterday so we are investigating…
We had a wonderful dinner last night of Icelandic lamb shoulder with green beans and French fries, a quiet night at anchorage and this morning was much cooler with a fresh breeze from the South/Southwest.

We went back to Upernavik to the Government run grocery store for a top up, Fred had a couple boat parts fixed by a mechanic , and we took a quick tour of the village, going by a few houses, a yard with tied dogs – the bitch with her 6 cute puppies- all of this located below the runway where we landed 2 days ago and nicely tucked in the lee. That runway was recently built by moving tons and tons of rocks an gravel. It is 799 meters long as at 800 , it would have required a control tower.

After the land excursion, we left for Aappilatoq just North of Upernavik. We found a key hole anchorage to get relief from the wind and the chop. We had to navigate through many icebergs, big and small. All very spectacular ice sculptures. First turn at the wheel was interesting, much different from the 40 footer. One has to keep a sharp lookout for depth and icebergs as the charts are not to be trusted and the bergs move constantly, sometimes faster than us, but nothing scary yet!
Helene and Fredo have now gone to pick mussels for dinner at the low tide, and the others are in the process of re-hoisting the fore-sail.
Then, we will prepare for the big sail across Baffin Bay tomorrow, aiming for Devon Island (yes, Franklin was there) north of Baffin Island in Lancaster Sound, Nunavut. Maybe 400 nautical miles from Greenland.

This morning, we met some of the crew of Destiny from England, another sailboat that will be transiting the NWP.

So, the plan is that I will keep sending a daily blog update, so long as I don’t get too sea sick (no problem so far) and that I will upload pictures next time I have Internet.

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Aug 5, 2018 Day 2 on NWP near Upernavik Island 5.2 NM total 8.5 NM

This is a first trial to send a blog by Satphone, and I have included one picture as well as a test.
Last night we got quickly on our way to a nice quiet anchorage south of Upernavik after landing the Dash 8 on a super short runway in tiny Upernavik. There was no security check whatsoever except that you had to click that you had no sharp object with you during the online check-in. Then during the one hour flight, all the passengers got to visit the cockpit, check on the glaciers and chat with the pilots.
Today, we have a few chores to do like fill up the water at the creek where we are anchored and fix the furler on the jib. So, while Fred, Harry and Dunnery work on the repair, I fill the tank and many Jerrycans, and Helene and Harry go fishing for sea urchins which make for our lunch appies. Lunch itself is smoked halibut and salad with home baked bread; Not a bad start on the food!

Everyone is in a very good mood, very excited to be part of the adventure, the boat is very comfortable and huge compared to our Dufour 40. The only bummer is the number of mosquitoes, although they are not too fierce.
We still go for a hike in the afternoon, climbing a bit to get a 360 view of the islands and the icebergs.

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Aug 4, 2018 Flew to Upernavik and SV Fredoya, anchored South of Upernavik 3.3 NM

The Air Greenland flight is delayed until 6 pm so we have an extra day in Ilulissat for the museums before we rejoin the Freds on board Fredoya tonight.


We don’t know if they plan to leave tonight or in the morning. In any case, likely no more wifi, so I will only be able to post new blogs if I can use the Satphone to send them. We are off to cross Baffin bay if they judge that the ice allows.

You might be able to look us up on this link in a couple days.

As we wait for the plane, we have an amazing plate of smoked red fish, halibut and cod and smoked muskox with pickled beets, onions and carrots at the Icefiord Hotel.

Below are Emanuel A Petersen from the collection at the Ilulissat art museum.

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Aug 4 2018 hiking towards the ice


And a few pictures from our hike .

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August 3, 2018 Ilulissat Greenland

It drizzles all day but it’s not cold, so we walk around town all day. The town is prosperous and very pleasant. The houses have a lot of character and we find our way through a network of roads, paths, boardwalks and stairs meandering through the homes, shops and the commercial area. There are no garages for cars but if you don’t have a big container in your backyard, it seems you are nobody.

The supermarket are well stocked, the prices surprisingly reasonable for the location. There are a few art and souvenir shops and even a Canada Goose retailer. The locals seem to favor Arcteryx and North Face though, the teenagers especially and they like to tattoo and dye their hair in bright colors.

A Danish couple we met in a store explains that Denmark spends a lot on Health and Education and it seems to work. The Inuit are doing very well. The town has to import Chinese people to fill job vacancies.

Schools teach Greelandic first, then Danish so very few speak English and that creates difficulties for Tourism. But shrimp export is the biggest business, construction is booming and they have oil projects, so lots going on.

The menus of restaurants and cafes are offering local foods, such as Reindeer, muskox, whale, halibut, cod, wild salmon, snow crab, lamb and freshly caught shrimp.

The dogs have the use of large designated stretches of land within the town but they must be chained. Signs remind you not to pet them as they are working dogs and they might bite. We happen by at feeding time and it’s fun to hear the howls of anticipation. Hundreds of dogs join the chorus in rounds.

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August 2, 2018 Ilulissat Greenland

The Air Iceland Dash 8 took us over in three hours above the thick clouds and we touched down in UNESCO World Heritage site Disko Bay.

Flying West, we have already regained one hour of the seven we lost going East, so six more to go over the next 42 days.

Greenland is an immediate delight especially after the sun breaks through the clouds.

First walk around town is a real eye opener, notice the bright colors and the utilidors, the piping above ground for water, heat and sewage.

Lots of ice close to shore.

Got to run, and get more pictures.

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August 2 2018 Reykjavik to Greenland by Air Iceland


A few pictures of quaint Reykjavik before we fly to Greenland.



I am adding the ice concentration map which shows good progress in the last 10 days.


I may not be able to blog in Greenland so please be patient with further updates. It may be a while.

And thank you for all the comments, we love hearing from you too!

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August 1st 2018 Reykjavik Iceland




After two flights, we have arrived in Iceland without trouble. The car rental service representative was about as awake as we were at 5:00 am, seems he had missed a night’s sleep just as we had. The hotel would not check us in until 2:00pm so we drove to the Hot Springs at Hrunalaug near Fludir. The property owned by an Icelandic/Polish family for generations is in the middle of nowhere ( except for a cute little church and graveyard) and the hot spring spurts out of the ground naturally. The owners built a bit of a basin, a bathtub to dip the sheep in the thirties, and a small shed with a grass roof. The water is just right, the wild flowers are blooming and everything is very green and serene. The perfect antidote to jetlag. Not blue, like the blue lagoon but then, we did not have to share it with loads of tourists.

After a thorough walk through downtown Reykjavik, we have  a fresh fish dinner at a local Cafe, the cod is the daily catch bought on the docks.
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Jour J – 1, are we all packed yet?

It’s 8:00 pm in Victoria and yes I think we got it all, I hope we got it all. it was so hard to figure out what to bring, and even harder to make decisions about what not to bring. We are allowed  1 bag 20 kg checked and 1 bag  6 kg carry-on. We are well below. More tricky was the volume, getting all the bulky stuff in one duffel bag and all the electronics in the carry on. This was the hardest as I wanted the laptop to write the blog, the tablet to read, the phone to get the data to send, the Nikon with Zoom to take picture of elusive Musk Ox on a far shore, and USB keys, a SPOT emergency device, and more. And as I am writing this, I realize that it’s crazy to bring the old laptop and that I should just save the 4 pounds and go get an SD card reader for the photos and write the blog on the tablet.  Quick trip to London Drugs before closing and this is done, the new device weighs less than 50 grams. Perfect to allow a spot for the amazing British fruit cake made specifically by my friend Sharon  to save our lives in a dire moment. Not only it tastes amazing but it also keeps well under any circumstances. We might need it!

We have packed for cold and rainy,  and I had to vacuum pack everything, it looks quite funny. Seems we are geared for Mars or another alien planet. The little extra room and weight, we have saved for a bottle of Johnny Walker Medicine to buy in Iceland on the way to Greenland. Most of the places we will be visiting are dry, so there will be no top-ups.


This is it, last sleep home, last long shower… last good byes.  The good news is that we have the perfect house-sitters from Berlin taking over our beach house, we won’t have to worry thanks to their ferocious dog Mo.




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Watching the ice melt, Time-15 days

Of course, you can’t see the ice melt on the concentration map when you check everyday as I do, but given a week in between readings, the melting is visible and accelerating at a good pace. This is very encouraging for us as the sooner the passage opens, the better our chances of completing the transit.



We are now in the stage of gathering all our gear, and will do a test packing this week-end. We are allowed  one bag 20 kg checked, and one bag 6 kg carry-on. Our hope is to be able to top up our personal stuff with a bit of fresh produce to re-supply the boat as there is not much to buy in Upernavik. To add room, I will be wearing my parka and boots on the last 2 planes, but no big deal, it is cold there anyways, high of 5 degrees C today.

Unfortunately, our sister-ship boat Imaqa had to abandon their 2018 project shortly past Kodiak due to crew issues. They are having a wonderful time in Alaska though, fishing and exploring with the locals. Best of luck to Jeff, Melanie and Clement for the balance of their Alaska travels.

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Death in the Ice, the mystery of the Franklin expedition

This is the title of the special exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa that we went to visit.

The exhibit is well worth seeing even for us who have spent the last couple years reading every book published about Arctic exploration. The thing is that seeing the artifacts for real and almost touching some of them was incredible. It seems to make our attempt at transiting the NWP more intimidating and more eerie. There is still much that we don’t know about what truly happened by King William Island from 1846 to 1848.

I am adding a few pictures taken there and the chronology of events.

China from the Terror and Bell from the Erebus


In 1845, when Sir John Franklin left Britain in command of the Royal Navy’s most ambitious Northwest Passage expedition.

May 19, 1845: The Franklin Expedition departed from Greenhithe, near London, England.

July 4, 1845: The ships arrived at the Whale Fish Islands, Greenland, after a stormy Atlantic crossing.

July 12, 1845: Officers and crewmembers mailed their last letters home.

July 29 or 31, 1845: HMS Erebus and Terror were sighted in Baffin Bay by whaling ships. This was the last time the ships and their crews were seen by Europeans.

Winter 1845 to 1846: The expedition spent its first winter in the Arctic off Beechey Island. Three members of the crew died, and were buried on Beechey Island.

Summer 1846: The expedition headed south into Peel Sound.

September 1846 to Spring 1848: The ships were beset — surrounded and stuck in ice — northwest of King William Island.

June 11, 1847: Sir John Franklin died. He was 61 years old and had served in the Royal Navy for 47 years.

April 22, 1848: The expedition had been stuck off of King William Island for over a year and a half. Fearing they would never escape, the men deserted the ships.

Food tin no longer thought to be responsible for death of the crew by lead poisoning.

April 25, 1848: The men landed on King William Island. Nine officers and 15 seamen had already died. There were 105 survivors. Officers left a note stating their plan to trek to the Back River.

January 20, 1854: Franklin’s Expedition is missing for more than eight years. The Admiralty announce that its officers and men will be declared dead as of March 31, 1854.

1847–1880: More than 30 expeditions sailed, steamed or sledged into the Arctic from the east, west and south. Very few found any trace of the expedition.

2008: A renewed search for Franklin’s ships began under the leadership of Parks Canada.

September 1, 2014: An important clue is found on an island in Wilmot and Crampton Bay: an iron davit pintle (fitting). Parks Canada refocuses its efforts near that island.

September 2, 2014: 167 years after the British Admiralty’s search began, the first wreck, HMS Erebus, is found.

2016: Almost two years to the day after the discovery of Erebus, Terror is located in Terror Bay, off the southern coast of King William Island.

Summer 2018: More diving is planned to explore the wrecks.

A truly enjoyable read of the whole Franklin expedition to the Arctic, current with the latest developments and the preservation of the wrecks.

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What are we waiting for?

Long days, high temperatures in most of the world, why are we not off to Greenland right away, I have been asked a few times lately. We are waiting for the Arctic sea ice extent to shrink. If you look at the June 9 image of the sea ice, you will see that we are not close to being able to get through.


Skipper Fred and all the crew are monitoring eagerly to see the progress. We  all have to be patient.


We will need to have a darkish blue path and hopefully this will happen this August, the earlier the better. If you wish to monitor the daily image, go to:

Another idea of what  the West coast of Greenland looks like  are these pictures  I took in May.

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Imaqa, our sister-ship cast away June 4

At 14:00 hours Pacific Standard time,  J-F and the crew of Imaqa departed Canoe Cove on Vancouver Island for the first leg of their journey through the NWP,  North to Kodiak Alaska. They had a fine breeze and left under sails. That always makes the skipper happy! They are travelling West to East and we will cross them at some point in the Arctic.

We had a pre-departure party on board, the later part down below as it started drizzling.

You can see that the crew is very well prepared, as far as food is concerned anyway. Melanie made 140 Mason jars  gourmet treats such as  Moroccan Lamb Tagine.

Here is their navigation plan:


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I would take the Northwest Passage

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From Upernavik in Greenland to Nome in Alaska,  my dream is coming true.

“Ah, for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage
To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea;
Tracing one warm line through a land so wild and savage
And make a Northwest Passage to the sea.” (Stan Rogers song).

This is our Summer 2018 plan. On July 31, we will fly to Iceland and the next day to Greenland. On August 4, we will meet SV Fredoya in Upernavik and join a crew of seven. Fredoya is a 57 ft sloop with a welded aluminum hull and a retractable hydraulic keel, a custom design built for the arctic between 2003 and 2008. The skipper, Fred, is a RYA Yacht Master Offshore, his wife Fredo , Hélène and Christian from the South of France, and Harry from Ireland will form the crew with Dunnery and I.

Construction of Fredoya was done in a small village in the Alps called Bois de Claix in my sister’s warehouse. Three identical boats were built, one now in the Med, one in Victoria BC for the last day as  Imaqa is leaving to transit the Northwest Passage from West to Est any minute. The last one, Fredoya, will do the transit from East to West and we agreed to RDV and raft the boats together for a toast when we cross.


Friends and crew around Imaqa’s skipper JF,  just before leaving Victoria BC

More details in the next few days, was just checking if I still knew how to post.

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Alaska 2013 August 9 Day 79 Oak Bay Marina Victoria 57 NM Total 2933 NM

This is our home coming, early wake-up to shoot Dodds Narrows at high slack and drift with the ebb all the way home. It works as we get great currents pushing us South.


All goes well, we tie the boat in its  slip, Dunnery drains the oil while it is hot. We  get home for showers without time or water limit and a good dinner. We are talking about when we will be able to go back to Alaska and it may be before too long. Frogs is ready to go! We just have to wait for another summer.

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Boat clean-up will happen next week, but this it for the blog. Thank you all for keeping up with us!


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Alaska 2013 August 8, Day 78 Nanaimo Yacht Club 77 NM Total 2876NM

Another day in paradise, that is true summer, warm water, sunshine, moderate winds at predictable hours, nothing could be better!  Georgia Strait is a little choppy but  nothing unpleasant.  We just miss the whales and the sea otters already and our daily encounters with sea mammals.

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The views are amazing, we luck out with a mooring at the Yacht Club at the last minute which makes it easy to go to dinner with our friends Joe and Vali at a friendly Greek restaurant. Of course, we have roasted lamb as roasting is one thing we do not indulge in while on the boat , always trying to save the propane as refills can be hard to come by.


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Alaska 2013August 7 day 77 Teakern Arm Desolation Sound 98.3 NM Total 2799 NM

Four hours of total fog out of Port McNeil very early, in less than 1/8 of a mile visibility. This is the price we pay to arrive in SUMMER.


And summer we get, most beautiful day through Johnstone Strait and the Broughtons with a nice flood to push (floods South up there).



We are just a bit early for  the Dents and Yucculta rapids so we drift an hour or so then go through at sunset in gorgeous light. After that we stopped at the nearest place to drop a hook in Teakern Arm.  It is so nice to peel the layers and enjoy short sleeves and shorts for the first time.


Picture Quiz:

Is this otherwise Postcard perfect shot showing  brown stains from?

1-      Three Noasis : as in a reverse oasis, where there are no trees  and desert in an otherwise rainforest type climate.

2-      An out-station of the Campbell River golf course where they practise with the sand traps

3-      Clear-cut logging at Pt Tuckers on West Thurlow Island in the Broughtons without re-planting

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Alaska 2013 August 6 Day 76 Port McNeil Vancouver Island 83.3 NM Total 2700 NM

We  must go round Cape Caution and cross Queen Charlotte Sound today and depart at 6 am to catch the full flood. It is a good idea to be safe and even more important today as we are completely fogged in and spend the whole day making way by compass and radar.

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Planning routes

Very long day trying to see through the white-out and miracle at 2:30 when we pull into Port McNeil harbour, the sun is suddenly shinning.


We are below 50 degrees latitude North and are making steady progress  despite the August fog. Saw only one whale but could not get a picture in the grey sky over grey water.

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Sea-lion skull in Port McNeil

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Alaska 2013 Fogust 5 Day 75 Home Bay River Inlet 46.8 NM Total 2637 NM

As now usual we start in the fog  by sailing a GS, zig-zagging through the gill-netters that are out en masse in Fitz Hugh Sound. They have the sound pretty much on full intercept,  raking all the spawning salmon in their net.  We have to scan carefully for an orange buoy marking the end of a line  where the net is strung from the buoy to its owner boat across the sound. They bar access staggering the nets  and we literally  wind through them for over 20 miles around the Namu area. There must be 200 boats. The fish does not have a chance, we have to pay attention to get through safely and  we wonder how the whales make it.


We see many humpbacks travelling north alone or in a small group. A couple are doing back flips for us, quite close,  oblivious to our boat. We get  the best sighting  of a giant whale flapping its fin as it passes us just south of the Addenbroke  island light-house.



It gets sunny by late morning but we decide to stop early as the combination of inflow wind and outgoing ebb starts creating unpleasant swells and the next anchorage would be quite a ways. Queen Charlotte Sound is for tomorrow bright and early.


We end up in Home Bay the site of an old lodge  built on a railcar barge which is now sunk at the head of the bay and unmarked on the charts. Luckily we anchor  just before the wreck and Dunnery discovers it at low tide in his kayak.

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Alaska 2013 Fogust 4th Day 74 Codville Lagoon (2) via Shearwater 82.3 NM Total 2590 NM

Our moving days are getting longer as we are anxious to get home soon.  12 hours today and more scrabble as the water is pretty flat. We start quite early in a bit of fog and  the cold weather, fogust it is! And cold to boot, I am back in full layers and camouflage.

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We make good headway going down Finlayson Arm past Hiekish Narrows. Interestingly we are between Sarah Island named after Mrs Finlayson, the daughter of an HBC factor, and Roderick Island, name after Mr Finlayson, an HBC factor as well. Then we cut through the Oscar passage to avoid the big waves in Milbanke Sound and proceed through the Reid Passage, a really pretty narrow. We fuel in Shearwater, near Bella Bella and go round Denny Island to reach Fitz Hugh Sound.


As soon as we are anchored Dunnery jumps in the kayak and I swim 4 laps around the boat in frigid water. Two hours and a good dinner of Boeuf Bourguignon later, I am still cold.

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Alaska 2013 Aug 3 Day 73 Green Inlet Graham Reach Inside Passage 65 NM Total 2508 NM

Another full day with 60 miles to the South. Early departure means calm waters and we can sail or motor-sail while taking turn at Scrabble, a new challenge for Dunnery.

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When we reach the arm between Gribbell  Island and Princess Royal Island, we have to alter course and go around three large fishing boats with their nets going out half way into the passage and hanging from shore from trees near the marker. We are a bit annoyed as they do not answer Channel 16 on the radio and it is only when we get close that we can see the submerged nets marked by floaters obstructing the way on the East side.


More  appalling is the fact that they are allowed to rake the ocean like that, giving the salmon no chance of escape. And the pink salmon is running, we see them everywhere doing their belly hops practising for the waterfalls up river where they spawn. Well the pink salmon near Hartley Bay is not getting much of an opportunity to spawn.


By 2:30 pm the thermal winds are barreling up  Graham Reach and by 4:00 we are wind-burnt enough and pull into Green Inlet to anchor at Horse-fly Bay. The flies are no worse as anywhere else around here, maybe because the horses have gone when the logging subsided. We are in a small mature reserve and the birds are singing! I have a quick swim (in the still chilly water) and Dunnery paddles to the head of the inlet. We are beat now, off to bed early.

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Alaska 2013 Aug 2 Day 72 Lowe Inlet (2) Grenville Channel 59.6 NM Total 2443 NM

Mike and Paul are off to the airport in Prince Rupert to catch a flight back to Ontario early morning and we sail as they go in a very overcast sky. Not foggy per say, just a low ceiling. After a couple hours the waters start ebbing and we have a nice ride all day with speed up to 10 knots. By afternoon  it is a very sunny and we enjoy the Grenville Channel in full ebb  more than on the way North  in  the rain.


Mount Saunders in Grenville Channel

By 4:00 pm the winds really get up so we pull into Nettle basin in Lowe Inlet for the second time and anchor fairly close to the Verney Falls with all our chain down.  Around us there is salmon hopping constantly.  We take the dinghy close to the falls at low tide and observe the pink salmon jump in their attempt to go up the Kumowdah River to spawn. 


There is no fishing allowed within 100 meters from the fall so we shoot them instead (with the camera). What a sight!  The only reason we finally pull away is the bugs swarming us near the falls. Surprisingly, we see no bears, they must be further up river past the falls.


We  are on the way home, below 54 degree latitude North and have planned longer days, weather permitting, as we are eager to get home.

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Alaska 2013 July 31-Aug 1 Day 70-71 Back Home to Pilsbury Inlet and Prince Rupert, BC 78.7NM and 3.6 NM Total 2384 NM

Our plan to leave Nichols Bay early for the Dundas Islands across the border is thwarted by the fog. We go, and abort and re-anchor to wait. After a short while, the fog is omnipresent but not that thick so we turn the radar on and go. From 8:00 am to 4:00 pm it we drive by compass only in the swells.


Green island light-house BC

Then, abruptly, the sun breaks through and Canada looks very appealing. The lighthouse on Green Island looks great with its typical red roof,  it feels good to be home.  We have crossed the border and doused the American flag that had been flying since June 8.  We will miss Alaska for sure.

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We have decided not to stop in the Dundas Islands to make sure that Mike and Paul can make it to Prince Rupert to catch their plane home. A good decision as it turns out because we get  through the Venn Passage around 7 pm , anchor in Pilsbury Inlet across from Rupert, have a last dinner on that Coho we caught and check outside to realize that there is nothing we can check as we are in a complete white out. Kind of fun and eerie at the same time.


Thursday, we move across to the Prince Rupert Yacht Club and tackle the usual shore  chores, laundry, groceries, boat wash. The boys get a tour of the Tsimshian collection at the Museum.


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Alaska 2013 July 30 Day 69 Nichols Bay POW Island 37.2 NM Total 2301 NM

Another glorious day in paradise Alaska. No other boat around, bright sunshine, whales, rock gardens, a few dolphins, a bit of sailing,  all the usual fun.


We are reaching the south end of Prince of Wales Island and as we arrive close to Nichols Bay there are over 20 Canadian fishing boats trawling and hugging the 3 miles line to the US coast.


We have our usual paddle to a beach at the end of the bay and collect some well- travelled  floaters to add to our collection. The ocean is a bit cold today for a swim so a short dip is all I can do. Refreshing!


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Dinner is a bit delayed and the boys are anxious to be served the ham, sauerkraut and mashed potato  main course and the Romaine lettuce salad.

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In case you wondered what it is like keeping up the blog, this is a shot from the update in Sitka!

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Alaska 2013 July 29 Day 68 Mabel Bay Prince of Wales Island 47.4 NM Total 2264 Nautical Miles

We have a very special day going south of the 55 degree latitude north line in gorgeous  weather with warm winds and end up swimming in Mabel Bay  by the time the anchor is down.

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We reach a speed of 10.6 knots in Tlevack narrows, which really are not narrow and are quite deep so it is a lot of fun to have the 3 knot push. We see a couple whales and enjoy the views as we  overheat slowly  and peel off the gear , then the pants and socks and catch some rays. And that feels so good.

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By the time we reach Jackson Passage we decide to get serious and stop the engine   to try mooching. Mooching you might need to know is  not related to canoodling or  smooching or  anything like it sounds. Mooching is baiting your line with a weight and a herring of a certain size whose head has been cut off obliquely so it will spin as it moves down to the bottom and then  up as you reel it in. Mooching works well for us as we bring in a very good size and legal  Coho salmon that proved to be a delicious dinner. (Remember that bait we bought in Craig for Halibut).



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Alaska 2013 July 28 Day 67 Craig POW Island 23.8 NM Total 2217 NM

Our prawn trap contains a starfish, a small rock fish, and only 2 dozen spot prawns this morning. Sounds like somebody ate our prawns.

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It is the second glorious day in a row and we just rave in the sunshine although our two crew are still wearing their matching waterproof  two-piece outfits and their boots.

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We go through many rock gardens and see many otters along the way. The crew lodge a complaint about not seeing a whale today during our short leg to Craig. The spotter (me) was busy with the daily chores down below most of the way it seems.

We arrive in Craig early to fuel, top up the water and fill up the galley fridge to the rim again as there will be no shopping until Prince Rupert now. It is quite a little circus trick to come back to the boat with a buggy size load and make it disappear in the small  fridge, or below the floor boards, or in the small cool compartment along the hull.  

When that is done, we head off to town for dinner, a treat! Mike has secured the best table at the Shelter Cove Lodge, a fisherman heaven and we sit on the patio over the water and the docks.

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The dinner is superb as they have hired a very gifted chef from Washington state. We order a Coconut Chai halibut with clams and mussels, done in cream, coconut milk and seasoned with Cardamom, star anise,   cinnamon, white pepper and chilis. Also a roasted salmon with a ginger chili and a halibut dory in dill sauce. The clam chowder appetizer was the best I ever tasted. I will have to go back to Craig just for that.

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The lodge is very pleasant and the guests go out in very modern boats with their private guide. They seem to fill up their entire quota over 3 days and go home with 100 pounds of fish, filleted, packaged, labelled and shipped home. Nice bounty. We are inspired and buy a few herrings so we can try for halibut ourselves. (will report on that in the next few days).

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 Craig is a nice small town with clear water in the harbour. A kingfisher perched on a wire by the docks.


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Alaska 2013 July 27 Day 66 Nossuk Bay Prince of Wales Island 20.7 NM Total 2183 NM

Getting on the way is a bit delayed today as  a very large starfish has caught tight hold of our anchor chain and we need to kick it off with the boat hook.

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It is a bright sunny day and we very much enjoy going through Tuxekan passage and then Tonowek narrows. Both are deep but we have not timed the narrows so we have 3 knots of flood against us. Slow  going and sometimes hard  to keep a straight line but no real difficulty.


We get a good view of Bald Mountain on Heceta Island and spot a whale in the distance. There are still many sea otters playing around the boat  every day.


After anchoring in Nossuk Bay in complete wilderness, we have not seen a single other boat today, we paddle in the maze of rocks and islands in the bay. Very beautiful waters and we get entertained by a group of five female Merganser ducks  hiding in a  tiny cove. The double inflatable kayak has been a lot of fun.


No luck with the fishing, we caught a small shark that we released and that’s that.


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Alaska 2013 July 26 Day 65 Sarkar Cove El Capitan 43.4NM Total 2172 NM

From misty early to a glorious sunny day we passed a few trawlers in Chatham strait, then Mt Calder and soon turned off into El Capitan Passage. It is a very narrow passage through a maze of islands and islets, some of it dredged. It was incredibly tense navigating through but all went well as we kept a good eye on all the navigation aids and sometimes on the GPS.


It only got a bit nerve racking later down the way in Dry Passage, even narrower and dicer, when the GPS started showing us on land. As soon as we realized that the GPS was off and made do without it, all went well again. The markers are well placed and kept us in line as we  went along. We are so focused on picking our way that  sometimes we  kind of forgot to look at the landscape and it is good to have the pictures now to reminisce on the day.


After that we poked into Devilfish bay, supposedly a cursed bay, and it was. First we had trouble going through the narrow into the head of the bay as the chart-plotter was acting up again and nearly got us aground, second the winds were so strong funneling in there that we could not find a sheltered place to drop the hook. 

Upwind to Sarkar Cove

Upwind to Sarkar Cove

Off we went  8 miles down the passage to beautiful  Sarkar Cove, under sail the whole way giving our crew a nice thrill with the boat heeling high in the gusts of wind.

Pic by  P.Vigneux

Pic by P.Vigneux

Sarkar is a fabulous place with a top-notch fishing lodge. The owner comes to get you in his float-plane from Ketchikan and all their fishing boats are equipped with radar, also  the cabins look grand. But most importantly, just like everywhere we have been in the last few days the fish is jumping out of the water incessantly.


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Alaska 2013 July 25 Day 64 Port Protection Prince of Wales Island 32.1 NM Total 2129 NM

We successfully went through Rocky Pass,  37  navigation aids set by the Coast Guard  to help guide you in narrow and very shallow waters  in superb surroundings. The passage has to be time for the high slack at Devil’s elbow, a 90 degree turn where many boats have run aground. It means that you have over 3 meters of extra water and basically no currents to deal with. Since some of the marked depths  at  low tide are just over a foot, this is crucial. 


Port Protection

Our biggest difficulty and the most annoying really was the kelp forming giant nods and beds sometimes completely obstructing the way from shore to shore or at least  across the width of the navigable channel. Some kelp obstructed the engine cooling system at some point but we were able to kick it off by switching the engine off, some backing up, and lifting long plants from the prop  with the boat hook. 


It took  some preparation to get to know the route and then high focus to get through, one of us on the helm and one on navigation, figuring out the markers, where to be, and the next headings.

Port Protection

Port Protection

All went well  and  after 15 miles of this tense business we ended up in Keku Strait and spotted some whales in the riptides off Port Protection. Mt Calder was in the background on PWO Island. We are now tied up at a free state float inside the pretty and well sheltered harbor, a relaxing stop after the winds  in the strait.


Rocky Pass

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Alaska 2013 July 24 Day 63 Horseshoe Island Top of Rocky Pass 47 NM Total 2097 NM

We take an early start to be able to go to Kake and on to the top of Rocky Pass to be well set-up to wait for the right time to proceed safely tomorrow.

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 The first two hours are no fun as we are going in a horrible pea soup with the radar, but the boys are set to go and refuse to wait for better visibility.


They rush to Kake, but then  just fuel up and go, cancelling the planned time ashore. That makes for a pretty miserable day in my book which was saved only by spotting whales near Entrance island south of Kake .

Spot Prawn, see the red dots...

Spot Prawn, see the red dots…

The humpbacks were echelon feeding, a technique whereby they advance in a row,  slightly staggered and push the fish around in front of their balleened mouths. Much like a team of combine harvesters. This is quite a show and very rare to get a chance to observe them less than a mile away.

Echelon Feeding, baleen open

Echelon Feeding, baleen open

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Baleen in a Sitka store

Paul's first kayaking

Paul’s first kayaking


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Alaska 2013 July 23 Day 62 Red Bluff Inlet Chatham Strait 21 NM 2050 NM

More hot-springs  in the rain  in the morning and an easy ride to Red Bluff inlet. Indeed red bluffs are surrounding the inlet and also vertical cliffs and giant waterfalls. Water  is deep right to the shore and we were able to drop the prawn trap from the dinghy  right on the edge of shore and run out of rope at 45 meters.


We also have a  nice paddle up the river at the head of the inlet and see hundreds of pink salmon run away from the  kayak as we paddle. A rare sight, so many fish in such shallow water and such light green clear water.  There are also a lot of jelly-fish some of them quite large  and swimming at high speed.

Pink Salmon running

Pink Salmon running

We are nicely tucked away in a little cove behind an island at the head of the inlet and can listen to the rain all evening while  playing scrabble. Does not get any better.


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Alaska 2013 July 22 Day 61 Baranof Warm Springs Cove 38.6NM Total 2028 NM

A few hours of travel through Peril Strait into Chatham Strait and we hide away in Warm Spring Bay on the state float by a giant waterfall in  the small village of Baranof on Baranof Island. There is a lodge here with small cabins and a few cottages all linked by a boardwalk.

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Following the trail ½ mile up the boardwalk takes us to the side of the waterfall   and 2 pools carved in the rocks. The top pool under the trees is very hot, the middle pool is just perfect, and then there is a very small pool, single size a bit lower. This one you access by rappelling down the rocks with a fixed rope all the way down to the falls and when you sit in it you can touch the falls with your hand. The falls are noisy and steamy but not hot, rather glacial water in fact. But the pools are hot, so hot, so nice, so soothing after being cold for so long ( 61 days in fact), our bodies can finally unwind in the water.

Crab cake appies after the spa

Crab cake appies after the spa

When you come down back to the docks, there is a little cottage on piles with 3 cabins, each with a hot tub for two and the hot spring water running. You can rinse there and wash. When you are done, you pull the plug  to drain through the floor, scrub the tub and it fills again with the  running hot water piped from the spring above. How civilized! The place is impeccable and has view over the waterfall. Quite the spa and no charge. Bonus is the slight sulfur in the water, it is supposed to be healthy.

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 I don’t think anyone would live in Alaska if they did not have the Hot Springs.  This  is heavens  and I  could stay forever, well maybe if it had not rained all night and most of the day and if I did not have to run the heater on the boat tonight because we are all wearing 3 layers and freezing.DSC_0954

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Alaska 2013 July 21 day 60 Sergius Narrow Peril Strait to Appleton Cove 60 NM Total 1990 NM

With our extra crew  settled on board, we  have planned to go through the serious Sergius narrows at slack. It means departing Sitka at 6:00 am in the usual mist and we can barely see the silhouette of Mt Edgecumbe, a volcano in the background.


 We are soon rewarded with sighting a young black bear, Sika deer, and a pod of Orcas traveling at high speed near Poison Cove.

Going through the narrows at slack is not an issue as the water is deep and it is well marked.


 As we reach Peril Strait, we have a bit of wind and sail. We also catch  a pink salmon while under sail, big enough for 4 jumbo servings and some bait that we use to catch Jumbo (real jumbo) Dungeness Crabs. We release the females and a small rock crab and get offered more crab  by a  Sitka family renting the rangers’ cabin in the bay.

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They come here to practise shooting large caliber semi-automatic  guns. They probably felt bad about the  noise. Anyway, we can only have 3 crabs in our possession. So we steam the biggest and shell them right away to make crab cakes for tomorrow lunch.


 For dinner we have the Coho from the rescued  boat  which  I pan fry in butter to rare and it is amazing.  We were hungry, true enough after over 10 hours going and 60 nautical miles. A very fine day all in all and a sheltered inlet to kayak. Life is good.

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2013 July 19-20 Day 58-59 Sitka Baranof Island Alaska

A little memo to say we are fine in Craig on Prince of Wales Island but I will keep the blogs coming in order as I catch up. There is very little internet in this  grizzly neck of the woods!

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Two days to relax and complete chores. Laundry first at the Laundromat for a long time as the entire town had a power cut after I loaded my stuff. Time to call family. Then two trip of groceries, each a buggy full, one of dry goods and staples, the other of produce and fresh proteins. Boat cleaning, Fuel dock visit, water top up. Much time wasted on buying new phone and plan from ATT and Radio shack as Dunnery dropped the Google phone in the sink! Oops!

Sitka shop

Sitka shop

Mike and Paul have settled in nicely and are very good at coping with the cramped quarters. They appeared with matching yellow waterproof  West Marine jackets and matching West Marine navy rubber boots, we tell them apart by the matching pants that are colour coded- Paul in yellow, Mike in blue or by Mike’s bright orange hunting hat. At least they have the looks right on for the   drizzly weather, and they will be wearing this every day, I guarantee from my now extensive inside knowledge of the Alaska weather.

Mike and Paul

Mike and Paul

 The boys did some shopping and we now have even more fishing gear on board, hopefully Mike can assist in the art of catching a coho. Tomorrow is early start to be at Sergius Narrows at slack,  exact timing is crucial to avoid the strong current. Sitka  has been a good stop although we did not get to see the top of Mt Edgecumb (the volcano) always covered by good mist.

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