It’s not long after leaving Brown’s camp that the wind builds again. It’s a tune we’re familiar with now, moving forward until we can’t, finding a suitable lee, setting up our Helsport tent, waiting until the wind dies again.

It’s hard to underestimate how frustrating this is for us with even a moderate headwind stopping us in our tracks. If we had kayaks now we’d forge along at 4 to 5 kmph but we don’t and stop we must – Quinuituq.

Eagerness to keep moving aside, tent time is a nice time for us. We pass the hours waiting on the wind playing cards (hearts) and chatting about where we are, what we’re doing and the food we miss. We keep the discussion of missing our families to ourselves.

Sleeping in polar bear country is a little different than the norm. You sleep with a shotgun. The gun made me uneasy at first – I’m a big city kid from Montreal and have had little exposure to firearms – but I find myself fairly complacent now. Our 12 gauge rests at my feet, tucked up beside Denis’s head. There are no cartridges in the barrel, just in the chamber, and the lock is on. Potentially deadly but currently benign, we fall asleep easily.Gun at Denis's head small

Over a decade ago I heard about a Vancouver based kayak team attempting to paddle the Northwest Passage. Early in the trip, while camping on a beach, a polar bear leaped on their tent and mauled them. They were able to get a shot off in the mayhem, missing the bear but scaring it off, and had to call for rescue. During the ensuing wait, with one of the paddlers badly hurt, the polar bear remained close by, weighing its chances on another assault.

Strangely enough I feel no anxiety when sleeping here. We’re prepared for the things we can be, we don’t  worry about things we can’t.

The wind holds strong for the night and is kind to us in the morning. We row continuously for the next 27 hours with little interference and glide into Paulatuk at 13:00 on silky smooth seas, a cloudless, pastel blue sky our welcoming reception.camp small