On shore this afternoon at the very northern tip of Baffin Island off Eclipse Sound, Nunavut. My first encounter with a tundra environment. It is very stark but also very beautiful if you look closely. Incredible plant life. Glaciers streaming down the mountainsides. We had a beautiful sunny day (40’s) but when the wind crept up on us it got really cold… took me a couple of hours to thaw out once we got back to the ship. It’s kind of funny that I find myself in the Arctic given how much I dislike cold weather. Go figure. 🙂
At about 6:15 this morning an announcement told us that narwhals had been spotted and the ship had changed course to get closer… Soon after we stopped and floated so as not to scare them. Tho’ I don’t have a photo to show for it (I am just using an iPhone so my capabilities are limited) I did see the group traveling along in the distance… brown backs & white bellies. It was fun to be on the bridge with the Captain and First Officer & lots of passengers looking for the narwhals and anything else that might be nearby. Here are a few pics of what we experienced this morning.
After sailing for a day and a half we arrived at Pond Inlet at the North end of Baffin Island. Baffin Island is 950 miles long and about 450 wide with a total population of about 19,500. At Pond Inlet we are at latitude 72 which is 300 miles North of the Arctic Circle. Now it is evening tho’ the sun is brightly shining and we have departed Pond Inlet heading North again. It’s hard to imagine living in a place like Pond Inlet tho’ the people we met were lovely and mostly spoke English. The total population is under 2000 and is 95% Inuit, there are no trees or pavement and, for the most part it is a community of hunters & fishermen… they are hard workers and are determined to preserve their Native culture.
It’s a miracle I was able to upload 7 images from today’s adventure… I have a feeling our internet access is going to get slower pretty quickly now but I will certainly keep posting as I am able. Thank you so much for reading and commenting… it definitely helps to feel connected to my family & friends.
This morning we are still at sea but there was the opportunity to listen to a great talk on “Visual Narrative” by National Geographic photographer, Jay Dickman (see photo). Almost every day one of the photographers gives a talk or an opportunity to ask questions and learn…. We also have so many other talented, enthusiastic guides with us… an undersea diver, geologist, vertebrate & invertebrate biologists, archaeologist, ornithologist, geologist, botanist and more. There are presentations/classes pretty much every morning and every evening. (This is no luxury cruise!) Yesterday afternoon there was a mandatory safety talk ’cause, apparently, staying away from Polar Bears is no joke. All the hike leaders will be carrying firearms and flares just in case. No shit, Sherlock (as my sister used to say).
One of the many nice things about our ship (National Geographic Explorer) is that most of the time the Bridge is open to passengers and the Captain and crew are happy to talk and explain and just generally hang out. This evening I went up there to discover about a dozen other people who had the same idea and a lovely view of the slow-setting sun and yet another iceberg. Sunset tonight is at 22:56 (11) PM and sunrise will be at 3:32 AM. Fortunately all of our cabins have black-out shades so that we can get some sleep!
Tomorrow we are scheduled to clear Canadian immigration mid-afternoon and then arrive at Pond Inlet (Mittimatalik), Nunavut on the north end of Baffin Island where we’ll take zodiacs ashore in groups of 10. More on that tomorrow!
Yup, it’s true… this woman (moi) who really, really doesn’t like cold weather is leaving soon to spend 3 weeks in the Arctic. Crazy, huh? Well, the good news is that it’s August and the temperatures can reach a balmy 70 degrees so, I’m sure I’ll survive. Like I did in 2012 I’ll be traveling with my friend, Lois. I’m so grateful I am able to accompany her!
We start out by flying to Reykjavik, Iceland where we’ll stay over just one night before flying to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland where we’ll get on board the National Geographic Explorer… our home for 3 weeks.
Getting ready for such a big adventure takes a lot of focus and time (you should see all my lists!) so I probably won’t write here again ’til we’re on our way. I hope you’ll read my posts and send me comments so I won’t feel so homesick :-)! ~ Love, Claire ~
Our last port (Monday) was Dominica (pronounced Dom-in-eek-ah). At Dominica the Explorer had to drop anchor off shore and tenders (small life boats) were used to transport us from the ship to the shore. Dominica doesn’t have a port to speak of and the bigger cruise lines get preference in using their minimal docking facilities so we got to have the experience of “tendering”. I’ve included some pics below of the ship’s tenders. They look small but each once can actually accommodate 80 passengers.
In Dominica our group went whale-watching. Although as it turned out there were no whales to watch on that particular morning, so it was really just a couple of hours out in a very nice small boat trying our hardest to spot a Sperm Whale’s spout (or pilot whale, or Minke whale or anything!!)… but, alas… no luck!
When we got back to shore Lois and I walked around the port town of Roseau which has lots of narrow, busy streets that seem to contain a pretty even mixture of local life and tourist-focused enterprises.
Although our time in Dominica was short this is an island I’d really like to return to. I would especially like to visit the interior rain forests that are shrouded in low-lying clouds most of the time… you will see them in the photos below. I’ve heard some nice stories about the many beautiful spots around the island but our short stay didn’t really give us a chance to do a lot of exploring outside of Roseau.
This being our last port certainly brings up mixed feelings. I am so excited to get home and see my family, friends and 4-leggeds but this has been a truly wonderful adventure and so, of course, it’s also sad to see it end… say goodbye to the ship and the sea (for now), not to mention all the fascinating and infuriating people I have met… just like life, isn’t it?
This morning I had the wonderful opportunity to stand on the ship’s deck and watch 4 Brown Boobies fly and dive and swoop and soar along with the ship. They flew along the starboard (right) side of the ship for a looooong time… maybe close to 2 hours. It seems that the ship stirs up these little flying fish that pop out of the water and skitter across the surface and the boobies dive after them… sometimes they literally dive-bomb straight down into the sea beak first… then they surface, float along for a few seconds and take off again… It’s really something to see.