The past 48 hours have been great; we’ve had some calm weather that has helped us cover about 140km. These good conditions gave us an ideal window to cross over the Dolphin and Union Straight into the beginning of the Coronation Gulf.

Our 22km crossing brought us to Lady Franklin Point which is another significant milestone for us because we have now reached Victoria Island. Cambridge Bay (which is on Victoria Island) is about 380km east of here so we now have somewhat of a straight shot to reach this community of about 1500 people.

Lady Franklin was the widow of John Franklin whose infamous quest to find the North West Passage resulted in the death of his entire crew (129 people). An Irish man (Francis Crozier) on board Terror was Franklin’s second in command. Departing England in 1845, the two Franklin ships (Erebus and Terror) made a stop in Greenland before venturing further west into the unknown. This would prove to be the last time they were ever seen again by Europeans.

The precise details of what happened to Franklin and his crew remain a mystery to this day and his name is synonymous with the history and folklore of the North West Passage. Between 1848 and 1859, more than 50 expeditions were mounted in an attempt to find the crew and quite a few of them were funded and put together by the indomitable Lady Jane Franklin.

The wind was picking up last night as we arrived at the point so we decided to pull into a little cove beside an old decommissioned DEW (Defence Early Warning) Station. There was also a cabin near the waters edge and when we looked inside it we were absolutely delighted to see that is is still in use. Many of the hunting cabins we have stumbled upon so far are no longer in use and are effectively in tatters.

However our little “Hotel Victoria” is perfectly in tact. It’s about 12 ft by 12ft in size, made of plywood and has a little counter on which to prepare food. It also has 2 wooden beds which are effectively planks of raised wood but throw a sleeping pad on top and we have some new found luxury. One of the beds is a double, the other a single and there is enough floor space to accommodate the 4th musketeer. This little shelter feels like an absolute palace, like our own little hotel in the middle of nowhere. There’s definitely a “self service” vibe to the place which is grand with us.

We were all starving after our crossing last night so we cooked up a big feed of pasta and spoiled ourselves by adding one sausage each into our bowls (only one more left now). Together with a hot coffee, this was absolute bliss.

After seeing a few more Muskox roaming around nearby, we settled into our sleeping bags for the night. Unfortunately the wind had picked up which means we might be here for a day or so but to be honest, I don’t think any of us were all that bothered by this last night as we fell asleep in our luxurious new surroundings.

We woke up this morning to a healthy North Easterly wind (the exact opposite of what we want) so chances are we will be here for most of the day at least. However this morning was a cool moment for me on this trip, one of the good ones. We had a lovely bowl of hot porridge for breakfast and afterwards we were all sitting around having a coffee chatting and the banter was good. Four bearded, slightly off smelling lads sitting around chatting, taking the mickey out of each other (an Irish term for slagging). After 46 days of living in each others ears, its good to see that we’re all still as enthusiastic as we were when we first met over a few pints nearly 2 years ago……

~ Paul