Simpson strait and Gjoa haven

69’15.1N 94’50.6W course 013 speed 5,7kn

On Tuesday we sailed through Simpson strait. Simpson, who explored much of the Canadian Northern Territories by longboat, together with Dease. Sailing through this strait is pretty special. We had to make our way through day marks that function as leading lights while under sail. We scandalized the mainsail so that the boom could stay in the middle and the gaff was in theory free to choose on which side it would fill. Thus hopefully preventing having to gybe many times. The mainsail only switched sides ones, when we brought it over to go wing on wing, or butterfly. Steering was fun with many things to aim at and not use the compass as much, as the compass is not reliable. The compass will sometimes give you the right course for a while and then all of a sudden go completely off and turn against the way you are heading.

After Simpson strait we could come up about 40 degrees to the wind and so sheets in and speed up! By evening we arrived at Gjoa and as we were still sailing so nicely, Gijs decided it would be fun to sail into Gjoa as the west bank of the harbor was dead into the wind, so easy to pull on the hand break.
As we closed in on the harbor, we were loosing daylight.. which complicated things, as the harbor entrance is quite narrow. And we spotted masts in the harbor and an AIS signal of a yacht called Admiraal Bellinghausen. Still, this opportunity, where we had left Tuktoyaktuk and set sail, to anchor in Kugluktuk under sail, where we had left our anchorage under sail, to now anchor in Gjoa Haven under sail, would just be too perfect to miss. So we got all teams ready, one on the jib, one on the mainsail to lower both when needed and a team on the mizzen sheet to pull it in for maximum turning effect.

Photo taken by the Bellinghausen crew, thank you so much!

As we entered the harbor the wind slowely decreased, so instead of 5,5kn, we headed in with 4,5 then 3,8 and down to 3 knots. The Yacht was anchored on the spot we had anchored in 2019 and we had no choice but to stay close to her and anchor next to her. Heading straight for the yacht, with only the forestaysail down, must have been a little unnerving for those standing on deck watching us. A few boat lengths away from the Bellinghausen, we took away the jib and lowered the mainsail at the same time. We drifted a little further with 2,5 knots and pulled in the mizzen sheet to head into the wind. Drifting for another two or three boat lengths, we dropped anchor and drifted backwards to our spot for the night and the following day! What a maneuver! Well done team!
The Bellinghausen hailed us on the VHF and congratulated us on a beautiful arrival.

(Find the 10 differences!)

Next day was spend wandering around Gjoa, some went on a hike, others went for wifi and most just used their time to stretch legs and just be on shore for a bit. We went shopping, arranged water for the next morning, garbage and payed our homage to Amundsen who stayed in this perfect little harbor with his ship Gjoa over 115 years ago. In the evening we had visitors, the crew of the Bellinghausen were part of a project and they wanted to interview Gijs about his experience so far. A lovely crew of 4 Estonians came for a short visit and brought all kinds of gifts! 5 kilo’s of Arctic Char they had caught with a net, a bottle of the finest Estonian Vodka, chocolat, Ice brewed beer and many many stories! They had stayed at Fort Ross previous and had seen over 40 polar bears and schools of Beluga!! We saw footage and it looked amazing, like a wildlife documentary! We were going to recipicate the visit after dinner, but their plan had changed and sadly they had to leave while we were down below having a traditional Dutch stew with red cabbage and apple.

On the 24th we started the day with taking in water. Stern to a small pontoon where the water truck could come. Sadly their hose was about 30 meters long, and we needed 50.. so we attached all the hose we could find, but this meant that loading water was a little slow.. so after lunch all was done and we headed out! We are now underway under engine, staysail and reefed mizzen. Punching our way into a nasty little wave and a headwind of about 15 to 20 knots. The weather report shows a weather gap starting this morning (variable winds decreasing to 10 or even 7 knots) lasting about 24 hours, before a strong North Westerly returns. Waiting this wind out, would mean staying for a week in Gjoa, and although it is a pretty place, we have more places to visit. The next 300 miles will be made to Bellot strait, where we hope to arrive before the wind starts..

The night is very dark and steering is not easy, but we are getting there!

All is well on board, Jet

One Response to “Simpson strait and Gjoa haven

  • Well sailed, Tecla. Glad to see you are still sailing into harbors, coming up on an anchorage, under sail. It never gets old. Bravo!

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