North West Passage – Day 13-19 – Barrow Straight, Peel Sound, Prescott Island and Gjoa Haven

16th August 2023 Wednesday

Day 13

We made a break for it last night. Arthur rustled up a big evening supper, Dan was ashore with the rifle, crushing anthracite for the stove and Will and I dragged the dinghy on deck.

Anthracite bashing and net untangling!

We carefully wound our way out of the anchorage and set off across Barrow Straight towards Peel Sound. Right now the wind is a touch too strong to maintain our southerly course so we are contemplating anchoring over night at either the bay on the north east coast of Prescott Island or a shallow area on the south west coast or, if they are not suitable, perhaps a bay on Pandora Island. If the wind dies we may be able to start the motor and continue our way towards Gjoa Haven. Let’s see what happens!

17th August – Thursday

Prescott Island, Peel Sound

Day 14

Yesterday the wind became quite strong, maybe 5 and gusting 6. It made heading the course uncomfortable so we bore away and headed towards an unnamed, and unchartered bay on the north east of Prescott Island. Will was keen to find flat water so we continued to the head of the bay only to find that the swell wrapped itself around the point. It seemed pretty calm to me. We anchored in 13 m and after launching the dinghy for a quick visit ashore we settled around the Faversham Stove for a massive spaghetti. Today Dan and I went ashore with the rifle to load up with fresh water.

These black “Gorilla” tubs have proved endlessly useful

We loaded 150 L into containers then filled the boat’s tank. We tucked into a sweet potato omelette for lunch and discussed plans for the next leg to Gjoa Haven. It seems the best time to leave will be tomorrow (Friday) lunchtime. The only problem I can foresee is that on Fridays we try to only speak French, so God knows where we will end up!

18th August 2023 – Friday

Day 15

D’accord, je sais aujord hui est “French Day” sur Le bon bateaux “Integrity” mais pour quelque raisin tout le monde parle anglais. That means I don’t need write the blog in French which is lucky for you. In honour of Boat French Day, Arthur made a massive plate of pancakes for breakfast. We ate them with Nutella, maple syrup and honey and lemon juice. I washed mine down with two mugs of strong black coffee and felt fit to face the world outside. Raising the anchor involves considerable effort as 1/2″ chain is not light.

The manual anchor windlass

The winch on deck is manual but, unlike electric winches, it is simple and reliable. As I am the old boy on board I am normally allocated the task of flaking the chain into the locker so that it flows out neatly next time. Will, Dan and Arthur are all incredibly strong and fit. Dan likes to carry 40 kg of water at a time for “balance”. I find 20 kg quite enough!

We set off once again into Peel Sound but the wind was south easterly rather than easterly as forecast so we headed out for a couple of hours before tacking and heading south. It was a little rough to begin with but things gradually settled down. We had matter paneer for lunch. The boat appeared to be going slightly slower than usual especially as the pilot says there should be a favourable current on the west side of Peel Sound. Maybe there is some tidal effect? There are a few fulmars circling the boat but no whales yet. It is about 200 nm to Gjoa Haven. I suppose we will arrive on Sunday or Monday so long as we don’t hit strong headwinds. Gjoa Haven is a larger community than Resolute but still only 1300 people live there. Resolute only has a population of 243. Gjoa Haven will seem like a big city, bright lights!

20th August 2023

Day 17

We made our way down Peel Sound then Franklin Straight and headed for Shortland Channel which runs between the mainland and Tasmania Islands. Franklin was the Governor of Tasmania for a period, hence a possible connection.

We suspect they were looking out for beluga whales which are hunted in this region

We saw three small Inuit fishing boats in the Islands and a small group of Inuits standing on a hill on the mainland perhaps looking for fish or Beluga whales.

One off the fishing boats. Every boat is made from aluminium!
Every boat up here is made from aluminium, no wonder most expedition boats choose the same material. Still I’m a woody at heart!

This morning at about 03:00 we spotted another yacht, the first one I have seen since Resolute. Apparently it is Estonia registered and heading for Taloyoak. Most of my watch was foggy but it has cleared at bit now and the low lying mainland can be made out on our port beam. Gjoa Haven should be reached on Monday 21st August. We can’t hang around though because there is still about 1,900 nm to Nome!

21st August 2023 – Monday

Day 18

We have arrived in the “Loveliest little harbour in the world” – Amundsen.

With a strong wind blowing onto the jetty, it was decided to anchor and drift back to avoid damage to the boat
Couldn’t resist a photo of the Jack Russell on “Ugly Betty”
Gjoa Haven from the hill, with Integrity at anchor

One response to “North West Passage – Day 13-19 – Barrow Straight, Peel Sound, Prescott Island and Gjoa Haven”

  1. What an adventure! I hope you’ll be able to post some photos when you’ll be back to civilisation!

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