Mirages of ice and land

Photo Loes van Aken

Coming on watch at 00:00 hours board time, there are 3 persons in the back and two in the front. Ice watch has started again and they seem to be busy. With growlers and small bergy bits around we are navigating between ice once more. As we take over the watch, we agree on which angle to point out ice at and what distance is important. An hour into our watch, the amount of ice has decreased rapidly and we are now looking at the horizon for new ice. But there is something strange going on with the horizon. It seems like a band of fog or different colour sky is in between the horizon and the water. And in this band, things seem to be floating around. No real bottom, just a shadow hanging in the sky. And then if you take a closer look at the land mass and in particular the edges of the inlet, it seems like they have a very strange shape as well. On the top there is a part sticking out, like a balcony, a natural platform, hanging at the end of the cliff.. but that can not be. How could that withstand any wind or ice or snow pressure in winter. Then we get closer, and the cliff turns back to a normal size. And it has all been a fata-morgana, a mirage.

And so is part of the ice we see. There is a reflection in the sky of what is behind the horizon and it all looks flat, but might actually be an iceberg. But that’s too far away to worry about, first deal with the small bits just in front.

We have left Pond Inlet behind and set sail for Navy Board Inlet, currently almost at the end of the Inlet, ready for Lancaster Sound. Lancaster Sound is said to be open enough to pass through with 2/10 ice and some isolated Icebergs. Our plan is still Beechey Island, but reports of staying at the South shores are taken into consideration. Whispers are uttered that either Peel Sound or Prince Regent will open up in the next 7 days and getting through depends on being there at the right moment. For now that means we will make as many miles into the Lancaster Sound as possible.

The weather is calm. No wind at all. Again we are staring at golden and orange skies of a setting sun behind the clouds, with reflections on the water. Someone once asked me if I ever get tired of looking at the shores and the cliffs and whether it ever got a little dull or normal… Maybe the same could be set for a perfect sunset every night.. but I don’t think so!! These glacial cliffs, the ice coming down on them in what nearly looks like highways, still amazes me. And this sunset, again, is something I would not want to miss! And that also goes for our expedition crew, again some of them hung around after their watch, not wanting to go to bed yet, because there is so much to see!

sunset, taken by Loes

Under engine we are making our miles until we find the wind. Weather reports say there should be wind in Lancaster Sound, but looking at the end of Navy Board Inlet, we might have to wait until the morning for it to really pick up.

On the wild life front we have not spotted many animals yet, Paul reported 8 snow geese, we saw a dead Narwhal drifting and many fulmars and guillimots. We have tried to spot Polar bears on the shore, but after calling out every speck of snow, realized we were not really able to see them at that distance..