Well, the end of the season is here.
We began with bird research and the support of the Canadian Wildlife Service. At-sea surveys of pelagic seabirds, photographic census of critical breeding colonies at Bylot Island, and geolocator banding of birds to find out where they will migrate in the fall. Mission accomplished.
Then, five weeks with the Wild Canada film crew onboard and exciting pursuit and film capture of orcas, narwhal, and a host of other mega fauna in Milne and Admiralty Inlets. Mission accomplished!
Now, the Arctic itself is telling us it’s time to start heading south: Animals have begun a southbound migration, temperatures began dropping ten days ago and continue, gale warnings are almost constant, boats that attempted the Northwest Passage have either now arrived in Cambridge Bay or have turned around and are heading home…We began the season in Pond Inlet as soon as the ice left the area, maybe the first sailing boat this year and it feels like we are leaving last!
Justin and Kieran, the last of our Wild Canada partners, left the boat last night and we welcomed Scott on board. And we celebrated the end of the season with an awards ceremony! A prize for “the person that really wanted to see orcas feeding on narwhals but sadly failed”, prizes for “for the people going home”, a prize for “trying hardest to spot orcas” … you get the idea. And the prizes were really… interesting. Just one clue : we ended up with colorful balloons all over the inside of the boat, we enjoyed nice chocolate and made sure that the ones leaving would do so with personalized souvenirs!.
We left Arctic Bay this morning, with “the south” in mind! What about seeing a tree again? Or grass? Or warmer temperature than the local snowy -1 degree of this morning? It’s sad to be leaving, but there are things to look forward to.
We are now in sailing mode, heading for Lewisporte Newfoundland, only stopping on the way for diesel, food, water or in case of bad weather. We prepared the boat for this trip for the last few days : check the rigging, food, water and diesel supply, boat cleaning, checking the survival suits, and are more than ready.
It feels a little like the beginning of the end, starting to be on the way to home, with so many memories, it feels like we are a bit different, probably a common feeling after such a stay in the Arctic.