This time, the Strait of Belle-Isle tricked us. It was very sunny, not too windy, and there was far less ice that we’d seen on the charts. On the Labrador coast, before putting to sea for Greenland, we visited Mary’s Harbour and Black Tickle.
At Black Tickle, we arrived at the same time as the weekly ferry, the “Northern Ranger”, that resupplies most of the villages of the Labrador coast. Tied up opposite her, we felt small! Just as people were curious about Arctic Tern, we were fascinated by the gear, wood, cardboard boxes and barbecue that were offloaded from Northern Ranger. Crowds of people from the village were there, awaiting supplies and friends from the ship. It was only the second arrival of the supply ship this year – it only starts to run in June – so it was a special occasion. There was a festive atmosphere, between ferry passengers happy to be home, residents greeting arrivals and supplies, and the very efficient skill boat crew running lines and cargo. Northern Ranger is still a principal link to the south for the communities, as the new road from Blanc Sablon to Goose Bay does not connect here.
After a few hours sleep, we cast off lines and left Black Tickle for the True North! Now, after two days of light winds, we are finally sailing and the Arctic Tern is happy and heeling on a strong port tack. Happy as we were to be sailing north, the seas were mixed up and it took some getting used to. Three of the four of us got quite sick with the mixed seas and motion. It was difficult to sleep easily and cooking became quite basic! In fact, our whole conversation began to revolve around strategies for staying warm and too-detailed accounts of sea-sickness! In situations like this, life becomes really simple: you sleep (if you can), you stand your watch, you eat (if your stomach allows it). In between those steps, you need to get dressed and for some of us (particularly our “bird survey manager”), this becomes an impressive challenge! First the pants, then a break lying down in order to prevent more seasickness. Second, the socks (well, one after the other in two different steps). Same break again. Next, a fleece jacket, and so on. It can take a long time! Sometimes, poor Samuel fell sick and then asleep by the time he got to the second boot!
Samuel is working on the pelagic seabird survey – a project supported by the Canadian Wildlife Service. This bird count will contribute to mapping of the use of this part of the ocean by these birds. Every two hours during daylight, Samuel spends an hour surveying and counting the seabirds within 300 metres of the boat.
As we got closer to Sisimiut, our landfall on the Greenland coast, we “lost” the darkness of the night. And, as if to welcome us back to the Arctic, it started snowing just as we passed the Arctic Circle! Snowing … on June 28th! It was cold but beautiful on the water. The wind died, and we entered Sisimiut harbour at 0100 last night. Being back in Greenland is a great feeling! As we were here last year, we know where to find everything we need: grocery store, customs, bank. But the only thing we forgot with the excitement of being on land again is that it’s Saturday and a lot of stores are closed. Never mind, it is great to find those typical Greenlandic landscapes and colorful houses, as well as the warm welcome of local people! Time for us now to work a little on the boat and head up north for some coastal sailing in a couple of days!