Shooting practice - Denis small
Our idle time at Cape Lady Franklin cabin has us exploring the decommissioned DEW Line station (something we’ve becoming quite sophisticated at having toured so many on this journey). We see three muskox trotting in single file across the horizon, their huge hairy coats draped over four spindly legs that are all but hidden by the mane above. They look more like life size puppets than real animals.

We take the time to shoot a few rounds from out shotgun to ensure it’s still firing as our gun cleaning regiment is sadly lacking. Frank finds an old piece of plywood and sets it up as a target. The intensity of a shotgun blast always surprises me, the thump in the crook of my shoulder akin to a hard punch. The plywood gets the worst of it.

“Good thing there’s nothing out on the water with your aim” jokes Frank looking out to the horizon. “Wait a minute, what’s that?”

Frank spots a small dot on the horizon we hadn’t noticed earlier. It’s a long way out, likely 10km or so (far from shotgun slug range) but it’s coming our way.

It doesn’t take long for the small black blob to morph into a small sailboat with red sail and two sailors. We know about this boat. It’s been shadowing us for the last two weeks.
Fairmonts1 small
The boat arrives and out hop two easy going sailors. Matt and Cam are expat Australians living in San Francisco. They are attempting to sail and row their 17ft boat from Inuvik to Pond Inlet.

“What’s it been like?” I ask Matt. “You guys know!!” he says with a wry small, “It’s been brutal” They’ve been suctioned to a mud flat for the better part of a day, have been overwhelmed by a following sea that nearly saw them swamped, they’ve been encircled by 90% ice, they’ve struggled and endured. They heard about our anchor cutting incident when someone emailed them about the story telling them to turn back to Tuktoyaktuk and to save themselves.
Fairmonts2 small
We’ve heard through the grapevine that the team of Matt and Cam (Fairmont’s Northwest Passage expedition) were right on our heels. We expected them to come flying by on a number of occasions because of their sail power but the reality of their small boat is that the high winds in these waters play havoc with sail propulsion as well. We’re moving at a similar pace.
Arctic Joule small
It’s not long before we’re sharing our stories and laughing at the madness of our adventures, all six of us shoehorned in the Cape Lady Franklin cabin. We learn that Matt and Cam are experienced adventurers having travelled the arctic and antarctic by foot, sailboat and kayak. Matt’s a three-time North Pole skier as well. The evening chat is comfortable and relaxed, a group of like-minded individuals sharing a unique moment, happy to be in each other’s company.

It’s a windy morning when we awake but the wind is a favourable Northwesterly and will assist us in our run down the Coronation Gulf. We pack up and head out while Matt and Cam choose a rest day. We’ll be seeing them again no doubt.

We row out into a 20-25KN wind that has us flying down the coast. It’s a bumpy ride as the Northwesterly keeps pushing us away from shore but by days end we clock in an impressive, but hard fought, 72km. You take what you can get up here.