Gjoa Haven or Uqsuqtuuq (lots of fat)

Virtually we have made our way to Gjoa Haven in our virtual North West Passage. The weather reports have shown light winds and so even our topsails may have been set on this stretch of little over 80 miles to the entrance. The entrance of Gjoa haven is small, narrow and mounds out into a fully protected bay that Roald Amundsen once called the ‘finest little harbour in the world’. While underway we enjoyed a sunny but cold day and all had some time to “slow” down a little and enjoy the sights around.

King William Island is not the most stunning view in the sense that it is rather flat and has a brown mud color. But the history connected to the island and the stories surrounding the island make it into a spectacular thing to see! Roald Amundsen wintered in Gjoa Haven during his 1903-1906 transit of the North West Passage. His expedition was the first to make it all the way through and prove that it was possible. But not only did he make it through. He used his time in Gjoa Haven to take measurements of the ever moving Magnetic North Pole. He charted the land and the position, building out posts and exploring the island by sledge. Amundsen and his group on board the sloop Gjoa became friends with the Inuit (then by them called Eskimo) and learned from their habits of hunting, reading the tracks made by animals in the snow, learning when spring was upon them but also when to start preparing for winter. He described their habits to a detail in his books and leaned how to stay warm and not freeze in the snowy and icy winters up North.

Gjoa Haven still has many places where you can feel the history and be reminded how Amundsen walked across the plains, just over the hill of the harbor and imagines how he could get lost, as there are hardly any real land marks to guide you home. Imagine having to find your way home in the dark, surrounded by nothing else but snow.

But when we are here, we find the back lands have beautiful small lakes, there are streams with fish in it and a small town where you can find many Inuit art galleries and hand Craft / working shops.

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