Making our way along a coast with a beautiful and also horrific history

All pictures made by Simon Damant

We are out of the ice for now and making our way along a coast line with a horrific history. This is where the men of the Franklin Expedition walked, with their belongings in a boat, dragging it south, trying to find a way home. Today we will pass the place the Erebus and Terror where eventually found. One to the South of us, and one to the North. We are not allowed to land on either site, nor are their proper surveyed charts of these areas, so we will continue further. Further along the coast we will find a bay called starvation cove, not without reason. For this is the place the last of the Franklin expedition members perished. What a thought.

But also is it the coast (and were we in the bay) that Amundsen prepared his Gjoa for a long winter in ice. Two long winters eventually, in the name of science. Reading their books and feeling part of their story, history does not feel far away here. The big mountains are gone, we are now making our way past low islands and coastline. Sandy and rocky, but not high at all.

We stayed in Gjoa haven for one night. We went ashore, were able to take in water and some fresh salads, and also visit the sites where Amundsen built his observatories. After that we set sail for Cambridge bay, with a close eye on the weather report. In the afternoon we were making our way past beacons and markers, following leading markers on small rocks and islands in the middle of the Simpson straight. It was a beautiful sailing day and an adventure to sail from one marker to the next, compass not reliable yet, with shoals and small islands all around. But it also became clear that the low pressure area coming in, was coming in fast! Now we are at the bottom of the low pressure area’s, so we were expecting precipitation, wind and waves.. and trying to find these markers in that kind of weather, seemed unlikely and beyond adventures. So we tugged ourselves away in a beautiful, shallow and sheltered bay called M’Clintock Bay. We stayed two nights, sitting out the passing fronts, happily inside with a book and hot chocolate milk! The wind was howling, we had to lash down the forestay sail, bind away any halyards from the mast, as everything was making a noise. Even at a distance of just one cable to the land, at the hight of the depression, we were experiencing some waves and rocking on board! But with no need to be outside, it was enough to freshen up with just a glance around the door, we were all very happy with a day off. I finished my woolen sweater, others finished their books! Roast lamb for dinner, what more could one want.

And today the sun is out again, the wind is south south east and blowing with a force 3 to 4. Topsails set we are now past Simpson straight, heading for Queen Maud Gulf, with a possible stop (depending on wind and weather) on Jenny Lind island. About 70 miles away from our current position.

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