Category Archives: ocean endeavour

Wednesday 28th August 2019 – WE HAD A …

… medical emergency today.

Not me, I hasten to add, but when they announced “Eric” a lot of people almost cheered until they realised that it was “the other one”.

With not finishing our concert until 00:25 or so, and having to write up my blog afterwards, I felt like death this morning. But I hauled myself out of my stinking pit before the third alarm and was up on deck taking photos – not that there was much to take because the weather was totally and miserably awful.

While we were at breakfast someone spotted a pod of beluga swimming around in Flexure Bay, so we went up on deck. And despite the rain, we stayed there for an hour or so taking photos. I counted in one of my photos about 100, which would seem to indicate a pod of about 300 and that is phenomenal. I only wish that my photos would do them justice.

Nevertheless, despite the rainstorm that was going on, we decided to launch the zodiacs and go for a cruise around. We need to keep our distance from them of course but we can go closer in a zodiac than a ship.

So we were about half of us in the water when we were called back to The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour. A passenger, taken ill during the night, needed uegent medical attention and the nearest attention was 9 hours sailing away, all the way back up Peel Sound to Resolute.

We were overflown by a 4-engined aeroplane which was checking our condition and the ice in the vicinity, and then eventually after we had travelled almost all of the route a coastguard vessel came to meet us. Twice, in fact, for after they had disembarked the patient they realised that he had left his passport behind.

Once that was accomplished we set sail again, up Peel Sound and all the way back the way we had come.

During the day we had been entertained. Lots or workshops organised and I went to the one on naval charts and the one on the Inuktitut language, but for some reason that I can’t explain (well, actually I can but it’s a long story and regular readers of this rubbish will recall it anyway) my heart isn’t in it at all.

Tea was with LIndi, Danielle and Ashley, the three most beautiful and charming girls on board and wasn’t I the lucky one?

And then I went back upstairs to watch the sunset (which was beautiful), to photograph a rainbow, and to learn to play “Gloria’s Eyes” on the ukelele – and much to my surprise it woks quite well.

But it can’t make up for the disappointment of not being able to sail down Prince Regent Inlet and Bellot Strait. I’m dismayed about that.

But still …

A little walk around the deck now before an early bed. It’s a very early start tomorrow as we are meeting an icebreaker.


… tell you all a little story. And it’s really down to the insistence of one of the regular readers of this rubbish.

It’s something that I wrote to myself late one night about a week or so before my final voyage across the Atlantic Ocean came to an end.

Wind the clock back to 1969/70 when I was studying Latin … “well, puer amat mensam” – ed … at Grammar School and having to translate – either from the English to the Latin or vice versa (and if there’s any vice involved, you can bet your life that I’m in there somewhere!) – a Roman myth or legend.

For reasons that I no longer remember, I chose the story of Castor and Pollux, and I can recall the story quite clearly even to this day.

Leaving aside all other kinds of myths and legends concerning Castor and Pollux that people might think are quite apposite, and other names by which they might have been known, which may be even more apposite to some, I’m referring to the fact that one of them (Castor) was a mortal being and his twin Pollux was the creation of the Gods, fathered by Zeus who having disguised himself as a swan, came down to earth and seduced Leda, wife of Tyndareus King of the Spartans and who were the mortal parents of Castor.

Therefore Castor and Pollux were in fact half-brothers.

Cutting a long story short … “for which we are all grateful” – ed … and missing out quite a few very relevant thoughts, including the phenomenon of St Elmo’s Fire (canwyll yr ysbryd or “candles of the spirit” as it is known in Welsh) and which has more of a bearing on this story than anyone might imagine, Castor the mortal died, and Pollux, the immortal, was heart-broken.

Pollux pleaded with the Gods and eventually Zeus changed things around so that half of the immortality of Pollux was given to Castor.

This meant that they took it in turns to be immortal, so that whoever was the mortal on any particular day was in Hades and whoever was immortal on that day was on Mount Olympus, and they changed over on a regular basis.

To whichever bank of the River Styx Charon the boatman had taken you, whether to Hades or Mount Olympus, you would only ever see the one and not the other until they alternated. For the casual observer, whether you were in Hell or in the Paradise of the Gods, it was really exactly the same situation and the same circumstance as in the other place but on different days depending upon who was the immortal God and who was the mortal being on that particular day.

A schizophrenic’s delight or dilemma, you might say. And I should know all about that of course.

So there are things going on right now that I don’t quite understand. And maybe I ought to understand them, I dunno. But right now I have a couple of quotes going round in my head, and seeing as we are on board a ship in difficult seas a nautical metaphor is appropriate. It’s an exchange between Peter Ustinov and Mia Farrow in Agatha Christie’s “Death On The Nile”
Ustinov – “You are embarking on a hazardous journey in troubled waters. You face who knows what currents of misfortune”.
Farrow – “One must follow one’s star wherever it leads, even unto hell itself”.
Such is the price of loneliness, boredom, inaction and, most importantly, curiosity.

I hope that you enjoyed that little story.

Tuesday 27th August 2019 – I HAVE SPENT …

… a very pleasant day in the company of those two two very pleasant young girls whom I have mentioned previously. I’m not sure quite why, but I seem to be Flavour Of The Month right now – a situation to which I’m not accustomed at all

When we saw the polar bear the other day the younger one of the two who was wandering around the deck on her own wasn’t able to pick it up with her camera very well To help her out, I put her memory card into my camera and let her take a few photos using the big zoom lens. No kid should ever go around being disappointed if there’s someone around who can lend a hand.

Unfortunately I had my camera set on RAW data rather than *.jpg so her camera couldn’t see it, as I came to realise afterwards. But I was working with the laptop in my little corner in the upper lounge today when they both came past, so I grabbed her memory card, edited the photos for her, converted it into *.jpg format and, for good measure, slipped her a photo of my walrus from yesterday as a little present.

We ended up having quite a chat, that started at about 15:00 this afternoon and went on until … errr … 00:30. And I’ll tell you something for nothing – and that is that they are far more intelligent and interesting and have much more to say for themselves than any of the adults on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour.

And that, unfortunately, is not saying very much either. To tell the truth, this is a pretty miserable lot of passengers on board the ship for this section of the voyage. There’s not even one of them with whom I’d choose to spend any of my spare time, and I’m pretty certain judging by the number of times that I’ve sat at a table and taken my meals all alone that the feeling is pretty much mutual.

Not that it bothers me at all though. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’m much happier with my own company and It seems as if I’m condemned to prowl the deck of the ship totally on my own until all kinds of late hours until I fall overboard, rather like Joshua Slocum, which is par for the course these days.

Mind you, I don’t know how I do it because I had another dreadful night. Wide awake at 01:00 and then not going back to sleep at all. And I was feeling dreadful too – fearing a recurrence of my trouble of the other week.

I know what caused it though. Basically, I was in a totally foul mood and it was eating me up all yesterday evening.

Yesterday or the day before, I’d mentioned that we have someone from the Archaeological Service of Canada Parks on board and as a result things are being run “by the book” on board, to the total exclusion of everything else.

Consequently, even though I’ve travelled for 40 days and spent not far short of $40,000 over two years to travel to a certain point and to take a certain photograph, it’s been decided that I won’t be permitted to take it.

I was furious (to say the least) about the idea of missing out on the photo that I really wanted to take, and it was preying on my mind. But being wide-awake enabled me to have a good think and it gave me the opportunity to come up with a solution.

And so at breakfast I buttonholed Rachel the Archaeologist and bent her ear somewhat (poor girl), telling her of my utter dismay and disappointment. She replied that she would “take my concerns on board”.

It was snowing slightly outside and freezing cold, as you might expect up here in the High Arctic, but we all warmed ourselves up in our really warm expedition clothing and hit the zodiacs. 10 minutes later we were on Beechey Island. at last, after all of these years.

We visited the graves of the three sailors who died at the start of the Franklin expedition and I took the photos that I wanted. Permission had been obtained (although, I suspect, unofficially, and I thought it best not to make further enquiries). We then walked on through the rain and the howling wind past a passing gyrfalcon down to Northumberland House (or the remains thereof) built by William Pullen’s expedition to relieve Franklin should he still be alive (which he wasn’t)

The whole place is covered in old tin cans, barrel staves and barrel hoops from Franklin’s and the relief expeditions in the 1840s and 50s and that all adds to the mystery of the place. But at long last I have made it there and that was what I’ve come all this way to do.

But one thing that I couldn’t do was to deal with yet more of this red tape. There’s a shipwreck – the yacht Mary – dating from the 1850s on the island, and known since at least 1854. I was hoping to be able to visit that but because it didn’t form part of the permit that the company had obtained (apparently no-one thought that it would be of much interest to anyone) it had been taped off and an “unofficial excursion’ was out of the question with this official loitering around.

So instead, I cursed my bad luck.

The zodiac ride back was wild, totally wild. You’d pay good money for that in an adventure park. We were all soaked to the skin and frozen to the marrow, so when we returned I had a hot shower to warm myself up.

After lunch I was on deck for a while and then fell in with the girls. They are cousins apparently, both mad on music and keen players of the ukelele. So I’ve been having private ukelele lessons all evening.

There was a concert in fancy dress this evening. Strawberry Moose dressed up for it and won a prize.

Later on in the evening while I was chatting to the girls and learning to play the ukelele, two boys joined in. One of them was no mean guitarist and the other could sing really well and so we had a jam session until long after midnight, all five of us.

And as a result, a cunning plan is developing. But more of this anon. I’m off to bed.

Monday 26th August 2019 – I DID MY FIRST …

… presentation today on an Adventure Canada ship and I was really pleased.

The subject of maps came up in the discussion and in particular Croker Bay where we were. it’s a huge, long fjord that branches off into two at the head. And so the question was raised. Why isn’t it shown on old maps?

The answer to that is simple.

The fact is that when this area was first surveyed in the mid 19th Century there was a glacier down it, as my Admiralty Charts tell me, and for that reason it was never possible to sail into it and explore it.

But when you see the fjord today, how long, wide and deep it is, it’s astonishing how much ice has actually melted away. Anyone who denies the existence of climate change needs to come here and have a look for themselves.

Last night I had a horrible night. Although I went asleep quite early on, I was awoken by I don’t know what at about 01:30 and that was my lot for the night.

Despite that, I still managed to beat the third alarm and was soon up on deck in the fog and mist. But a little later, we were in luck. We saw a polar bear asleep on a rock just on shore, right by where we were planning to land for Dundas Harbour. It was as if he was waiting for us.

It put the kybosh on the landing of course, but at least we had a good hour’s entertainment before he loped off to the other side, to our alternative landing point. So after a while waiting for him to move off, which he didn’t of course, we found another landing site in the vicinity. But not before a family of seals came along to join in the fun.

We had a cruise in the zodiacs around the bay so that we could at least look at the old Inuit settlement at Morin Point and the mast at Inglefield Hill, and then sailed across the strait to shore.

This new landing place is nothing like as historic or as interesting, but beautiful nevertheless. Probably one of the most beautiful places that I have ever visited. I surprised myself by climbing almost all the way to the top, which was quite an effort. Coming down alongside the waterfall was just as exciting. No-one was more pleased than me to have made it up there.

And the weather was perfect too. When I was here last year we were caught in a blizzaed.

After lunch we went for a cruise in Croker Bay (now that we can these days of course) and saw another polar bear, some walrus, more seals and some arctic geese. We certainly had our money’s worth this afternoon.

Tea was a disaster though yet again. Another one that took hours to come. And then they forgot my dessert. All in all I was waiting for two hours for my meal. I’ve no idea what was going on in the kitchen tonight.

This evening I helped the two young girls on board do a jigsaw and then came down here. Tons of photos to edit right now after today’s effotrts but even though we gain an hour tonight, after last night’s shenanigans I’m too tired to do anything.

So I’m off to bed. See you in the morning.

Saturday 24th August 2019 – TODAY I HAVE BEEN …

… learning to play the ukelele. And furthermore, I now know four chords (C, G, F and Am) and can play two songs. And if Status Quo can tour the world for 50 years with just 3 chords, I can do far better than that.

Last night I was wide awake again just before 04:00 and it took an age to go back to sleep again. Mind you, I comfortably beat the third alarm out of bed.

As I intimated yesterday, all events are cancelled for today. There had been talk of going into a couple of fjords in order to spot wildlife and the like, but there’s a howling gale raging on Baffin Island right now and while it’s not enough to cause us many problems out here 25 kilometres offshore, it could be devastating in a narrow and uncharted fjord. We are going to stand to offshore until it all subsides and head on north as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Consequently we had a series of on-board workshops. This morning I attended the photo-editing workshop during which I came to the conclusion that not only is my technique rubbish but the program that I use is even worse, and both must be improved when (ever) I return home, if not sooner.

After lunch we had a lecture on polar bears, during which I fell asleep and then made a fool of myself by asking a question that had been covered during the time that I was away with the fairies, and then the ukelele session that I mentioned just now.

I also took advantage of the computer technician who has now managed to stop (but not remove) the Walmart splash screen that has been annoying me, and I also went to see the expedition leader about a project that I have in mind.

Tea was with the photographer and I had a curry that had been specially made for me by the chef. Later, I finished (hooray) editing the photos and now I’m up-to-date for the month of August. But they are all going to have to be done again as I’m far from satisfied with the output.

But not tonight though. I’m off for an early night. Everything starts back up tomorrow if the storm subsides.

Friday 23rd August 2019 – I’VE BEEN FOR A RIDE …

… in a police car today.

No surprise there, of course, as many of my friends will suggest. In fact I should have been a policeman given the number of times that I have had to help them with their enquiries.

Having adjusted the clocks by two hours over the last couple of days, it will come as no surprise to anyone to learn that I was wide-awake at 04:15 this morning. I did manage to go off back to sleep at one point, only to be rudely awakened by the alarm at 06:00.

With the medication and breakfast, this was followed by a lesson in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit people. It’s not easy because isolation and geographical displacement has caused there to be several distinct dialects and of course we have Inuit on board who come from four different regions. But we did our best.

Canadian Immigration people came on board to check our passports. I was shocked, if not horrified, to learn that two immigration officers had been flown out here from Ottawa on a specially-chartered plane simply to check our passports and then fly back. The cost – no less than $50,000 – is charged to the company transporting us and, eventually of course, to us.

Why they couldn’t have come on a scheduled flight, or why the Immigration Service couldn’t simply have chartered a Canadian Air Force plane, totally escapes me. It sounds something like a “make-work” scheme to me, arranged to screw some money out of a captive audience.

Having done that, we could board the zodiacs to take us to the shore. And to our surprise, there was a guy sitting on a beach chair at the landing point checking us off as we stepped ashore.

We’re finally in Canada after all of our exertions, at the settlement of Qikiqtarjuaq, spelt “Kekertukdjuak” on my Admiralty chart of March 1908 and known to generations of Arctic explorers as Broughton island, here just offshore from Baffin Island.

Strawberry Moose and I went for a long walk around the place to see what we could see, eschewing the touristy attractions. There’s a viewpoint up in the hills overlooking the straits so we went there to see the view and present His Nibs with a few photo opportunities.

On the way back I encountered a father teaching his son, aged about four, how to use a sling properly in order to bring down a flying bird when they go out hunting in the future. Naturally, I stayed around to watch and to learn and also to have a good chat. Modern materials certainly, but I was very impressed with the fact that ancient tribal knowledge is being passed on. Father told me too about the effects of climate change on his village and how the snowfall has dramatically reduced and temperatures dramatically increased.

Walking around the edge of the harbour I fell in with Dennis, our expedition photographer. We were having a good chat when a copper pulled up.
“Are you photographers?” he asked.
When we answered in the affirmative he invited us into his vehicle. He was off to check something out in the hills at the back of town where the views are spectacular, and he would take us along for the ride.

It goes without saying that we accepted with alacrity. And I was so distracted that I forgot about the church that I was trying to photograph when the copper pulled up.

Back at the beach we had to present ourselves again to the guy in the beach chair. And I couldn’t help thinking about Brian Hanrahan and the famous “I cannot tell you how many there were, but I counted them all out and I counted them all back”.

Back on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour after lunch I had a shower and a clothes-wash, and then we had a talk on kayak-building and then on the history of survival in the High Arctic.

After tea one of the Inuit guys played guitar and sang for an hour or so, and then I came back to my cabin. I’m having an early night. And I need it too. I’ve been at the photos again and I’m now up to almost 1200.

But I did find a really good photo of the young girl about whom I talked yesterday, which I had taken of her while she was standing perched on a rock, so I gave it to her as a little gift to cheer her up.

I told her that I admired how she had climbed up onto that rock.
“That was easy” she laughed. “Coming down was something else though”
I admired her spirit and sense of humour.

A lie-in tomorrow as we aren’t going far. There’s a storm blowing up down the road and we are going to loiter until it’s passed us by.

Thursday 22nd August 2019 – JUST FOR A …

… change I was out like a light last night quite early, and stayed out until about 05:20 (which would have been 06:20 in real money of course). I ended up going back to sleep for a while and it was something of a struggle to sort myself out when the alarm went.

After the medication etc I went for a walk on deck to take some photos and it took me a while to find the early-morning orange juice, which wasn’t in the same place as usual. People shouldn’t go around changing my early morning habits when I’m walking around only semi-conscious.

One of the staff joined me briefly for breakfast, and then it was back down here to prepare myself for the morning out.

We’re in a fjord off Disko Island and the plan is to go ashore. We’re divided up into different groups, so I chose to go off with Marc the geologist and learn some more about rocks. And we had a great time too. We’re on proper original bedrock from 3.8 billion years ago, layered with dozens of layers of volcanic rock which had been eroded away by glaciers in certain areas so we could see all of the strata.

As well as that, Rachel the archaeologist had found some old fox traps and we inspected them. The traps were used to catch foxes more for their furs than their meat although that would be eaten too if necessary.

And the walk around the island as far as I went was quite interesting too. I even stumbled upon one or two of our party drying some caribou meat ready for one of the Country Food evenings that we have sometimes. Well, they have, because as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’m a vegan.

On the way back we were unlucky enough to miss a whale. One or two of the previous zodiacs had seen it but not us.

On board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour I had a shower and another clothes-washing session and then headed off for lunch. I sat with a guy who for some reason that only he knows, didn’t want to speak and who left the table rather abruptly.

I must change my after-shave.

This afternoon we had a series of lectures (during which I fell asleep) and a singles party. But I’m no good at socialising so I didn’t benefit from it.

There was a Francophone table at tea so I joined it and we had a chat, and that was followed by a disco. I dressed up Strawberry Moose and took him along and he proved to be quite popular as usual.

But woe is me. I made a dreadful mistake. One of the little kids on board (the different one from the other night) who I put at about 11 if she was lucky is in fact just 13 and was most put out when I had a guess at her age and got it so wrong. I’m no good with ages at all.

But now it’s bed-time. I’ve had another major go at the photos and am now up to 18090980 and well into the photos of this trip.

Things are looking up.

Wednesday 21st August 2019 – WE GAIN …

… an hour tonight.

Well, we don’t actually. We really gain two hours tomorrow night but seeing as we are not going near any community tomorrow during the day we will put our clocks back one hour tonight and we’ll do the other hour tomorrow night.

And I can’t say that I’m sorry, because I’m exhausted. And for once I had a decent night’s sleep too. Took me a while to drop off but once I was gone I was gone and I remember nothing at all until the alarms went off. I only just beat the third alarm – and by a matter of seconds – too.

It was a late breakfast but I didn’t take advantage because we are now in another fjord hard by Disko Island with the Eqip Sermia glacier at the end of it. Only a small glacier but a very lively one – one of the fastest glaciers in the world apparently.

Too fast in fact, for just as we were unloading the ship a large piece of ice broke away and calved, causing a tidal wave that crashed one of the kayaks against the rocks and damaged it before the crew had time to secure it..

The resultant chaos took ages to sort out and a 09:00 departure was more like 10:30.

We had a good sail around the face of the glacier watching some calving while they prepared a decent landing for us and eventually they were ready for us at the landing site.

An easy landing, and a beautiful environment but due to the earlier mishap not enough time to visit it properly. By the time that I’d had a geology lesson from Marc and a lengthy history chat with Rachel I was struggling to reach the waterfall.

But when I did – drat and double-drat! I’m not sure how many waterfalls I have visited just recently but I don’t recall visiting even one that didn’t have the sun shining directly over the top spoiling the photos. And this one was no different.

For the money that we are paying for this voyage, you would think that the company would have turned the earth around 90 degrees to give us all a sporting chance.

Back on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour we had a barbecue and then I had a shower and washed my expedition clothes. They’ll dry quite quickly. And I … errr … closed my eyes for a second or two (or maybe more.

We had some more lectures (during one of which I fell asleep) and then tea time. I sat with Jerry Kobalenko the explorer and we had a good chat too about all kinds of things, especially diet in the High Arctic.

Another good day for photo editing though. I’m now on 19080785 and just leaving South Pass on my way back to Montana and Winnipeg. So it’s not going as quickly as I would like it. But I’ll get there somehow some day.

Although I’ve a feeling, comparing my screen with a known photo that I took a while ago, that I might have to do all of this editing lark again when I get to a decent screen, whenever that might be.

Only time will tell.

Tuesday 20th August 2019 – YET ANOTHER …

… bad night.

Not at all helped by the fact that I had to get up and go hopping around the cabin for 10 minutes to try to overcome a really bad attack of cramp in both ankles. No idea why that might be. maybe it’s because I don’t have enough salt, and watching one of the staff sprinkle salt all over his chocolate ice cream this evening and tell us all just how wonderful it is, then maybe I ought to try it too – except that I don’t eat ice cream of course..

With no rush for the morning, I was in no rush either and I was comfortably beaten by the three alarms. But it’s been weeks since I’ve had a proper Sunday lie-in and a real day of rest so I reckoned that I deserved it.

We’re now in the fjord at Ilulissat, famous for its icebergs. And there are plenty in here too. They are all ground out on the terminal moraine that’s at the entrance to the fjord and it’s only when they melt a little, when there’s a really high tide or when there’s enough force in the congestion behind them that they can pass over into the sea.

They move something like a maximum of 35 metres per day but that’s not a daily total. It’s a daily average over a period of several weeks. Sometimes they won’t move at all for days.

We went out in the zodiacs to look at the icebergs but ended up whale-watching instead as a pod of fin whales and then a pod of hump-backs decided to strut their stuff right by where we were sailing. It all gave quite a surprise to the fishermen who were hauling in their long lines with halibut.

After lunch we went to town – literally. I’ve been here before but I still like the place so Strawberry Moose and I had a nice long walk out down the boardwalk to look at the ice congestion in the fjord. It really is so spectacular.

And much to my surprise I could remember the short-cut back home again.

There’s a museum in town – the birthplace of Knud Rasmussen, who probably just about beats Vilhjalmur Stefansson to the title of “Last of the Famous Polar Explorers”, so I went in there to have a look around. It was extremely interesting to me, and His Nibs found a couple of photo opportunities there.

There is an old church in the town too so on the way back to the ship I took myself over there to see it. It looked quite interesting too but it was locked up so it wasn’t possible for me to go in to inspect it.

While we’d been down at the boardwalk another cruise ship had come in. It was the MSC Orchestra with a capacity of 3200 passengers.

Watching them try to unload with a series of lighters and tenders was amusing – the weight of 240 passengers at a time on the jetty was causing it to sink below the waterline and they were wetting their shoes. They had gazebos to protect the poor dears from the sun (in the High Arctic!), all of that, and an endless procession of guides.

But 3200 visitors in a town of about 4500 is impossible, and the situation at the boardwalk must have been ridiculous.

On arriving back on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour I had a good shower and clothes wash, and then carried on the photos while we had the debriefing. And I fell asleep too.

After tea I went up to the top deck lounge and carried on with the photos until fatigue brought me back down again. I’ve now reached 19080553 from the late afternoon of 8th August. Still tons to get through but I’ll just have to keep on trucking, won’t I.

But not tonight. I’m off to bed.

Monday 19th August 2019 – WE’VE BEEN …

… to Nassuttooq, or Nagssugtoq today – or Nordre Stromfjord as it is more usually known to west Europeans.

At least last night we weren’t interrupted by anything tangible such as a bellow from the bridge down the PA system. However I failed to take full advantage as I had yet another miserable night where I couldn’t really drop off to sleep. It’s really annoying, especially following some of the really belting sleeps that I’ve had on land just recently. The demons must have caught up with me again and I can’t shake them off.

Once more awake long before the alarm, it was still a struggle nevertheless to leave the comfort, warmth and safety of my stinking pit. But there I was up and about something-like, and on the deck in time to take a few photos of the early morning sun. it was then that I remembered that I had forgotten to take my medication.

Breakfast was fairly early today, following which we were fitted for our boots. Not like the army – “too large? Stuff this paper down them!” or “too small? Hold on while I chop off your toes!”. They were actually a decent fit in my case, and even had they not been, an exchange was possible.

Lunch was ridiculously early, like 10:30, and then we hit the zodiacs heading for a landing.

They’d found quite a nice landing today, throwing us out onto a bed of rock and then we had a walk around the area where there was something for everyone. Our archaeologist, Rachel ten Bruggencate, found some fox-traps but Yours Truly, wandering off on his own, found the remains of some ancient temporary hunting lodges and three graves, and I was pleased about that.

Highlight though had to go to the geologist, Marc St Onge, who found the exact pressure point where two continental drift plates had collided with each other. Embedded in the resultant agglomerate were some garnets, formed due to the high pressure exerted by the colliding plates.

Another one of the passengers found a wonderful erratic boulder (there were plenty of those of course but this one was exceptional) that had also come from a similar colliding point but where there had been some volcanic rock.

Back on board the ship we had the usual debriefing and the agenda for tomorrow and also a couple of presentations, one of which I missed due to taking the opportunity to have a shower and wash some clothes. And now the clothes line in my shower has broken.

The marine biologist is an Irish guy whose name I didn’t catch and we had a lengthy chat at tea, following which was our Inuit musician giving a concert. So I went along to listen.

No young girls out exploring the ship this evening and needing assistance to find their way home again, so now it’s bedtime for me. I had passed out in one of the presentations, which means that I must need an early night.

But not before I’ve edited yet another pile of photos. I’m now up to about 365 but it’s not making much impression as the more I edit, the more I seem to be adding in.

I shall never get on top of all of this.

Sunday 18th August 2019 – I HOPE THAT …

… tonight isn’t as lively as last night was.

While it was interesting if not exciting, to see the Aurora Borealis and I don’t regret it for a moment, it interrupted my sleep pattern somewhat and I couldn’t get back off to sleep properly. Tossing and turning throughout the night with a very shallow sleep, I was not very rested at all.

Nevertheless I was out of bed at something-like and in time to see the early morning sun. Although I couldn’t see much through the thick sea mist.

We had breakfast of course and then a briefing about the day’s activities. Sisimiut is our destination today and I’ve been here before, although that’s not important. It gives me a chance to revisit a few places that I saw last time, only with a decent camera. And for Strawberry Moose too, for last time he was here he went kayaking and thus didn’t see too much of the town.

We had the customary guided tour around the town and then back to the ship for lunch. And afterwards, shame as it is to say it, I crashed out for quite some time. Mind you, that’s hardly a surprise given the events of the precious night

It was nice and warm outside so I discarded my fleece and went back into town with His Nibs to take some photos and to visit the museum of the history of the town.

The weather though was quite deceptive. It WAS bright and sunny and warm out there, but then a fog bank came rolling in off the sea and it went really cold – which is hardly a surprise seeing as we are north of the Arctic Circle.

Sill, a good chance for a wander around and a photo opportunity or two for His Nibs.

Back here there was a kayaking demonstration so I took advantage of everyone’s preoccupation to have a roasting hot shower and a clothes-washing session. Travelling light as I am, with just three tee shirts, three sets of underwear and two pairs of trousers, it’s important to keep on top of everything.

There was the usual resume of today’s events and then a briefing about tomorrow’s activities, followed by the evening meal. We had a staff introduction afterwards and I chatted to a few members of the team.

But now it’s bed-time. It’s not likely that we’ll be disturbed by any nocturnal sightings because there’s a thick sea mist outside and you can’t see anything. A good sleep will do me good, especially as I’ve edited 212 photos today in between everything else.

But not before I’ve shown one of the two little girls here back to the stairway to her cabin. “Lost” she said. But more like “having a good explore” if you ask me. And why not? Being a little kid is all about exploring

So right now, having organised her, I’m off to explore my bed.

Saturday 17th August 2019 – HAVING SPENT …

… last night in the most comfortable hotel that I have ever visited, I crowned it all off by having a really bad night’s sleep.

The night wasn’t so early either, but at about 03:45 I awoke for a trip down the corridor and then drifted in and out for sleep on several occasions, on each time stepping right back into a dream where I had left off, and that’s a very rare event.

06:00 finally saw me awake and when the alarm phone call went off at 6:15 I crawled out of bed and began to organise myself, including a shower.

By 07:30 I was downstairs and ready to go despite having had to wait for about a week for a lift. One of our fellow passengers was missing so we had to wait for her to show up before our bus could leave.

The bus took us on a long drive around the back of the airport to the charter terminal. Pouring down with rain it was too. In torrrents. A Boeing 737-400 from First Air was awaiting us and eventually we were allowed on board.

To everyone’s surprise, especially mine, the plane too off on time. I had the great misfortune to be stuck next to someone who insisted on ‘manspreading” not just his legs but his arms and we had quite a tussle until he calmed down.

Food was served, including a vegan option for me.

We refuelled at Iqaluit and the continued on our way to Kangerlussuaq. Still on time too. A fleet of coaches was waiting for us at the airport and brought us to the quayside where we boarded a fleet of zodiacs to take us to the ship.

I’d had a pleasant companion down to the harbour too – a Francophone woman from Montreal so we had a good chat in French.

And on board the ship it was very nice to meet so many people whom I recognised from before.

They placed me in the same cabin as before so I knew my way around, but we stall had the mandatory briefing and lifeboat drill. Nevertheless, it was good to find myself back on board

After tea I made a start on the photos but didn’t last long before it was bedtime. But that didn’t last long either as we were summoned on deck to see the Northern Lights – the Aurora Borealis.

And that brought back a few memories from “The Clitheroe Kid”.
“What’s another name for the Northern Lights?”
“Errr … Blackpool Illuminations”

Now I’m going to bed. It’s 01:00, quite late, so I need to make the most of the rest of the night.

Thursday 25th July 2019 – JUST FOR A CHANGE …

… having had a good sleep the other night, then last night I was awake again at I dunno – was it 01:00 or 02:00? Well, whatever it was, it was flaming ridiculous.

Back to sleep again, I awoke at about 04:45 or something and lay there quietly vegetating until the alarm went off.

Breakfast was rather quiet as everyone was concentrating on packing and, having been caught out by Adventure Canada’s charter flights in the past,as well as my packed lunch I made myself a couple of bagels with jam and stuffed them in my backpack too. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Back in the cabin, I stuffed all of my winter gear and spare clothes into a bin liner, wrapped it, labelled it and taped it and dumped it in the office. I’ll be back at some time in the future and I don’t want to lug a pile of winter gear around the world with me unnecessarily.

And then I hid in my cabin and kept out of the way of the chaos. I did have to stick my head out of the door to take my luggage down and to receive my passport.

Most of the morning was spent reading a book on the failed Greely expedition to Fort Conger and I was so captivated that I didn’t want to leave the book when I was called to my zodiac. But needs must when the devil drives so I sailed ashore.

But here’s a tragedy. I think that some salt water has got into the contacts of the big lens because it won’t focus any more. If that’s the case, then it’s more than a tragedy. A crisis, I would call it.

The bus that was waiting for us took us to the airport at Kangerlussuac, passing by a friendly arctic fox on the way.

But here’s some more bad news. Our flight is running late. An hour behind time, so they say, But I’ve heard that before. It was about seven hours late last time.

So plenty of time to have a walk round and eat my packed lunch. And to buy a packet of crisps because Ben the Chef’s idea about the size of my appetite is somewhat different from mine.

Waiting around for ages,I was joined by Rosemary who walked down from her hotel, and we had a little chat. But not for long as we were summoned through security. And our flight arrived only 50 minutes late, which is always welcome news.

Once the previous passengers unloaded and the plane was cleaned, we could board and we set off to Iqaluit where we refuelled.

They served a meal on board too and much to my surprise they had something for me. The jammy bagels that I had surreptitiously prepared at breakfast were not required.

No sleep on the plane though. One of the many children on our trip, all of whom had been exceptionally well-behaved throughout the trip, chose this moment to have a temper tantrum and that went on for a couple of hours.

At Toronto, immigration was quite painless but we had to wait ages for our luggage. A 20:50 touch-down, yet we didn’t reach our hotel until about 22;30 and that was depressing.

This evening I’ve washed my undies as they needed it and I hope that they will be dry for tomorrow. And I’m going to take advantage of this super-duper hotel and have a good night’s sleep.

The Sleep Of The Dead if I can.

Wednesday 24th July 2019 – OUR LAST …

… complete day on board ship – for now anyway – and what an interesting day it has been.

The day started off with, probably for the first time for quite a while, some uninterrupted sleep. And although I awoke at about 05:20 or thereabouts, uninterrupted it was. And for the first time for quite a while, I actually felt almost-human when i awoke.

It was a much better start to the day.

Outside, there were things to see too and that made it so much better. Much better than being totally shrouded in fog and mist

We’re sailing down a fjord, the name of which I forgot to note, somewhere round near the settlement of Qeqqata. And I made a discovery too, and I was lucky enough to photograph it.

It might well be a haphazard pile of stones but from the angle from which I took the image, it looked just like a ruined stone house (and I’ve seen a few of those – even lived in one too – in my time). It was on a spit of land sticking out at the junction of two fjords, in exactly the spot where one might expect an early settler, even of the Norse era, to erect a dwelling.

I showed it to the on-board archaeologists, and they seemed to think that it was something man-made. And who am I to dispute that? After all, we are somewhere in the vicinity of the limits of where the Western Settlement of the Norse might have been.

After breakfast I edited some photos for a while and then later on we had a talk on geology. And shame as it is to admit it, I dozed off in the middle of the discussion. I don’t know why, because up to that point I had been feeling quite good.

Once the talk was over we donned our wet-weather winter gear and clambered aboard our zodiacs for a final cruise. Past various nesting colonies of kittiwakes and guillemots up to the head of the fjord where a glacier was busy calving off into the water.

Strawberry Moose came along too and he went for a short kayak trip with Genevieve. He has more luck with the girls than I do.

But my luck held out today, just for a change.

My camera was in the right place at the right time with the right settings just as a huge pile of ice calved off the glacier. It made the most enormous splash although by the time the tsunami reached us it was pretty miserable.

By now the old Danish guy was feeling the cold so we headed off back to the ship. And that turned out to be lucky too because we caught sight of a young bearded seal sunning itself on an ice-floe. Baldur called up the other zodiacs to come to see it, and so it chose that moment to slide off the iceberg into the water.

But not before I took a photo of it. And what a stunning photo it was too and I’m well-pleased with that one. It’s definitely one for the family album.

Lunch was a barbecue on the rear deck and then we had all of the usual housekeeping stuff and instructions for our disembarkation tomorrow morning. That was followed by a packing session as we need to vacate the premises, and I can’t find the hood for my camera lens. And that’s a disappointment and no mistake.

There was another photography session dinner this evening and we had quite a discussion, which was punctuated by the ship making a severe U-turn as if it had missed the turning into our fjord.

And as Rosemary and I were leaving we were accosted by one of the Québecois women who wanted a chat. An elderly woman who is travelling alone and by the looks of things hasn’t made any friendships. We all had quite a chat in French.

On the deck, the views were spectacular as we entered the fjord and I took quite a few photos before the cold wind from the interior drove me inside. I wrote my notes, has a chat and that was that. I’m off to finish packing and then to bed ready for an early start in the morning.

It looks as if it’s all over for another trip.

Tuesday 23rd July 2019 – I REALLY DON’T …

… know what is happening these days but I had a night that was almost the same as the previous few nights. Awake at about 03:10 or thereabouts, and again at 05:15 and not being able to go off back to sleep. I’m getting rather fed up of this.

With the alarms going off it was still a struggle to haul myself out of bed and I didn’t beat the third alarm by very much.

Up on deck to see what was going on. And the short answer was “nothing”. The whole world was shrouded in a thick mist and I couldn’t see a thing.

Instead, I went back to my cabin and had a nice hot shower to freshen myself up and to wash another load of clothes ready for departure. So, nice and warm and damp, I slipped under the covers for five minutes and the next thing that I remember, it was 07:55 – 5 minutes to breakfast.

After breakfast, I managed to track down John Blyth. he had given us yesterday a talk on the charts of the High Arctic and had said that he had the charts on *.pdf. So I slipped him an USB key.

There was a talk this morning on wild flowers of Greenland, followed by a charity auction. I was present in body but not necessarily in spirit as I attacked the photos. In effect, Jessie has asked to see my top 15 from this trip so I went through and sorted some out while everything was happening. I’ve ended up with about 30 which is rather more than she wanted but that can’t be helped.

By this time we had arrived in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. The most northerly capital city in the world.

Lunch was early today – 11:30 – so we had to be quick. And then we were called down to the bus that was to take us into the town centre. We were actually tied up at the quayside today for once so no need for the zodiacs

A delightful Inuit girl called Evie (which is a shortened form of her real name which, like most Inuit names has about 100 characters) took us on a walk around the cultural centre, the old town and finally to the museum.

And I learnt something that I didn’t know, in that films in the cinema in Nuuk, they are shown in “version originale” with subtitles in Danish. Not in Greenlandic because apparently there wouldn’t be enough room on the screen for the characters and it would take too long to read them.

Which reminds me of the old chestnut about why there are so many babies born in Greenland. The answer is that the Greenlandic word for “no” is so long that by the time the girl has finished saying it, it’s already too late for the guy.

The museum was interesting. Apart from the usual stuff that you would expect to see, there was an exhibition featuring the Norse in Greenland. That was quite exciting for me at least, so I made a beeline thereto. And remind me to find out more about the “farm in the sands” that has recently been discovered at Nipaatsoq.

By now Rosemary had joined me so we wandered off for a coffee where we learnt the dreadful news from the UK. It beats me just how so many people can be so stupid and irresponsible.and so keen to bring down chaos and disorder upon themselves.

We went off shopping and Rosemary bought a few souvenirs for herself and her friends and then we just about had enough time to catch the last bus back to the ship.

Tea was taken in the company of a Francophone Canadian couple and by a German guy from an adjoining table who insisted on joining in our conversation. But at least this Canadian couple was delightfully normal which makes a change.

Now, there’s a chocolate party going on in the back of one of the lounges so I’m comfortably esconced in the library typing my note. But as I see the mountain of uneaten delicacies making their way back to the kitchen, I’m appalled at the waste of food when there are so many starving people all around the world.

And in other news, I saw one of the young waiters, a tall thin guy from the Maldives, dressed in civvies and making his way off the ship. He told me that he was going home. Later on I asked one of the friendly waitresses about it. She confirmed that he was leaving, and when I asked why, she made a very non-committal gesture. Whatever reason there is for his leaving the ship, the staff is not allowed to talk about it.

It’s still early so I’m going to edit a few more photos before I go to bed. Our last complete day tomorrow and hasn’t it gone so quickly?