Dinner in Dease Stait

  Nearly 3 days it took us to beat up Dease Strait, the narrow stretch of water between Victoria Island and the north coast of Canada! Maybe because the strait is so long or Victoria Island is so big… Bigger than the whole of Ireland! Only now are we leaving it behind us. Coming out of Dolphin and Union Strait, Lady Richardson Bay is waving us good by as we leave the area of early explores behind. Early as in before the last journey of Franklin. The happy days… Although Britain did not need the North West Passage by the time Sir John was rising the ranks, it became a matter of national pride. On his first trip north he was to map the area to the east of the Coppermine river.

Accompanying him where dr Richardson and George Back. Both leaving a print in arctic exploration. The Coppermine River was first descended by Samuel Hearne, in 1771. The Indians leading Hearne there had a double agenda and massacred the local Inuit’s who where fishing at the rapids. This became known as the Bloody Falls. When Franklin reached the Falls his Indians got nervous and left him. They did not go any further than point Turnagain on the Kent peninsula. He wrote of the area “The shores between Cape Barrow and  Cape Flinders including the extensive branches of Arctic and Melville Sounds and Bathurst Inlet, may be comprehended in one great gulf, which I have distinguished by the appellation of George IV’s Coronation Gulf, in honour of His Most Gracious Majesty, the later name being added to mark the time of its discovery. The archipelago of Islands which fringe the coast from Coppermine River to Point Turnagain, I have named in honour of His Royal Highness the duke of York” And so they remain named. Soon the struggle for food began. In the end the men ate their own boots. When Franklin returned to England, the book he wrote became a best seller. After this he was known as the man who ate his boot. The area we have spent the last 3 weeks in, was manly “discovered” via land and in open boats. Between 1836-39 Dease and Simpson closed most of the gabs on the north Canadian shore by open boat. Rae had his favourite boats from home, two Orkney Yole’s, built at Moose Factor and sailed, portaged, towed them for hundreds of miles along these coasts. Sitting out storms on these low lying Islands with their boats turned over for shelter. Learning from the Inuit’s. Living of the land and mapping the area. Voyages of hardship but also adventure. Sailing in these gulfs, straits inlets etc it is hard not to wonder of into that world of exploring. Places like Rae River,  Starvation Cove, Richarson River, Backs Point, Coronation Gulf, Lady Franklin Point, Detention Harbour, Simpson Strait, Bank Island and so on and so on they keep you wondering…

  At the moment we are closing in on Amundsen Gulf, leaving Cape Parry close to port before we avoid the shallows of Franklin bay. At Cape Bathurst we will turn south and west into the Beaufort sea, sadly leaving Banks Island (as big as the Netherlands..)far to the north. That is if the ice permits us. If it does, and only than, we might be safe to say we have done the N…. fingers crossed

  Gijs