Beechey Island and polar bears

74’38.0N 091’04.3W course 014′ speed 4,4kn

There is something about Beechey Island, it will never disappoint. Even in the fog, in the rain or in the snow, his island is amazing and something very special. We made our way against the wind under engine to Beechay on Wednesday, passing Port Leopold and crossing the Barrow strait. When we arrived, it was already evening, but no time was wasted to visit and pay our respects to the 4 graves on shore and the Northumberland house some 1,5 km walk away from the graves. This is one of the last places known to have been visited by the Franklin Expedition. After that they circumnavigated Cornwallis island just west of Erebus and Terror bay and then went south towards King William Island (which they thought was King William Land!). Here on Beechey Island they stayed for a winter, they build a small outbuilding on shore, barrels were left and even a big cairn with day sign was build on the top of the South facing shore of Beechey Island. You can see and feel the history here. You can even imagine that these stones you are standing on, are the same ones Frankling once walked on.

Next day we stayed in Erebus and Terror bay so we could first climb up to the Cairn left by Franklin and for the adventurers we could also visit the cairn left by Ross some 6km walk from the beach. Hiking up went fairly quick, the top of Beechey Island was covered in fog, so finding the cairn was a little harder then it would be on a sunny day. The wind up on the hills was cold, bitter cold. On the way to the cairn we walked downwind.. so nice and warm.. on the way back everybody put all their layers back on and covered all the extremities with scarfs, hoodies, beanie’s and gloves. Once back at the dinghy we split up. Gijs and three others went on to the Ross cairn, the rest went back on board.

After lunch, all of a sudden Gijs was on the VHF, they were cut off from the Tecla as a polar bear had made its way to Mary River and was roaming in between them and the Tecla…. Sam suited up, Tim geared up and the dinghy was send out to get all of them back on board quick as possible. This meant the race was on as high water had flooded the isthmus connecting Beechey Island to Devon Island.. And the water was already falling… Sam and Tim made it over the isthmus, then made their way 2 miles around Mary River as Gijs and the team walked down the hill, keeping an eye out for the bear. Luckily the bear wasn’t spotted again and once in the dinghy everybody relaxed.. Racing back to the Tecla, this time downwind, they made it over the isthmus again and back on board, with a good story to tell!

This morning we left Beechey island, it looked very different as the night had left a small coat of snow on the hill. Right now we are making our way under sail to Scallon Cove. Here we will have a small celebration, a NOT Christmas party, because this is our most Northerly anchorage and this is the closest we will get to the North pole (where Santa lives..).

All is well on board, Jet

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