The past few days have been a bit of a mixed bag for us. Our progress has been slow as we continue to get hit by challenging winds. We’ve been doing our best to steal some mileage in between the patches of stiff headwinds but overall it feels like we’re currently spending more time sitting around than we are rowing which is frustrating.
Our freeze-dried meals are stored in a few of our deck hatches so when you reach in to grab one, it’s essentially a lucky dip to see what you get for your meal. We knew we had some freeze dried egg mix in one of the hatches but up to now, we hadn’t yet found one.
To make up scrambled eggs, you just add water to the mix, stir it up well and then cook it over a flame (just like you would do scrambled eggs at home). Well earlier this week we pulled out two of these beauties so our breakfast on Wednesday morning was scrambled eggs and a sausage which was a real treat for us. We have one bag of sausages so these are somewhat of a delicacy for us when we have them. Our breakfast is usually a bowl of porridge washed down with a coffee so the eggs and sausage was a very fancy change for us.
We also have 1 power bar each per day but our supply will run out before Cambridge Bay. So when we got to Paulatuk a few weeks ago, we added in a few boxes of pop tarts to supplement the power bars. I’ve never really eaten pop tarts before but they’re actually delicious and go great with a cup of tea (what doesn’t). So since Paulatuk, we can have either a power bar or a pop tart each day. As with all our meals, we’ve been fairly rigid with sticking to our daily rashions so we were quite surprised to learn last week that our pop tarts were finished. We searched the boat but in vain and the mystery of the disappearing tarts shrouded the boat for a few days as we all knew that nobody was eating extra ones on the side.
Yesterday morning, Denis found the remaining stash of pop tarts; this felt like we had all just received an extra Christmas present!!
The last 24 hours have been frustrating. We pulled out of our last shelter point in the early hours of Friday morning but we had a very strong current against us which slowed us to a near standstill. When you row The Arctic Joule into a strong current, it feels like somebody is pulling the boat in the opposite direction and so every stroke requires huge effort and feels like your pulling the entire dead weight of boat. which makes for very hard rowing at very low speeds. As we were making virtually no progress, we dropped the anchor after a few hours to wait and see if the current and wind would ease to a point where we could actually make some progress again.
Just before we got going again, Denis spotted our first Grizzly Bear. We were anchored about 150 – 200 metres off shore and the bear was right beside the waters edge. It was very exciting to see such a powerful creature like this in its natural wild environment. At first it was just lying amongst the sea weed by the shore line, then it raised itself up on its hind legs and focused its attention towards us sticking its nose in the air to smell our presence. This is day 43 of our trip so I’m sure whatever scent the bear picked up probably wasn’t all that pleasant.
Frank went into the water to get some footage for the documentary. The Grizzly did start moving into the water towards Frank but there was plenty of distance between them and the bear didn’t really move much further before returning to the shore. This was a quite a large Grizzly and as far as we could tell looked well fed and healthy. We spent about 40 minutes in the company of this magnificent animal before deciding to push on.
The bear shuffled off quite quickly when he heard the clunking sound of our anchor as we pulled it in on deck.
After we got going again, the first hour was a slog but the current gradually eased and we are currently making good progress. We have some mixed winds forecasted for the next 24 to 48 hours so we’ll just keep plodding along as best we can. In the last few minutes, we have just rounded Cape Bexley which means we are now pushing south east towards Cambridge Bay. We still have another 450km or so to go before we reach Cambridge Bay but rounding this Cape is another milestone for us along the way and the bear sighting has definitely lifted everyones spirits……..