North West Passage – Days 46 – 48 – Nome to Home!

18th – 20th September 2023

We spent Monday working on the boat. My main task was cleaning the deckheads. The paraffin cooker and anthracite burning stove leave their grimy marks on the ceiling.

Integrity moored alongside Que Sera
Arthur’s photo of the same scene on real film adds a certain explorer patina almost Tilmanesque!

In the evening we were invited aboard Que Sera as the Skipper, Antoine, was celebrating his birthday. The strongly built aluminium boat had a French Crew, with the exception of Megan, who was English but lived in France. They were a very happy lot even though their engine was suffering with some turbo problems. A new one was being sent in with the Crew change. We hope they can get it sorted so they can set off again.

The following day, after ticking off most of the laying up jobs, we were able to make use of Rolland’s Chevy to go sightseeing. We called in to the tourist office first and I enquired about purchasing some qiviut. This is the wool from the underbelly of the musk ox. It is collected from the willow bushes that the musk ox use to scratch on. We eventually found a shop that was rumoured to have a few skeins in stock. The women in the shop showed us two Qiviut hats for $450 each. She then got out 3 skeins of the yarn. I thought she said they were $25.00 each, which seemed like a bargain to me, and I decided to buy them all. Qiviut is known to be 8 times warmer than wool!

Later, during our car ride into the hills, I was told that she had actually said $225.00 each and everyone was rather surprised when I said that I would have them all! I never looked at the credit card receipt but it is too late to worry about it, I now own $675.00 worth of qivuit- gulp!

Oh dear! I will have the world’s most expensive underpants!
“Please come again” – I think I made her day.

To our delight, as we drove along, we spotted a herd of musk ox and stopped the car to watch them.

One of the herd of musk oxen that we saw. If they stop eating it is because they are getting stressed.
They can run at alarming speeds, but apparently struggle running downhill, or so the rumour goes. It is not advised to stand your ground if they start coming towards you, but can you run fast enough to escape!

Equally delightful was that we spotted some qiviut hanging from the willow bushes and were able to collect a small bag full. I am now fully qivuitted, I just need to decide what to do with it.

Qiviut from a willow bush. The musk ox rub their bellies on these bushes to get rid of some of the underbelly wool during spring

There is some controversy regarding the introduction of musk oxen to the area. They were imported from East Greenland without consulting the indigenous population. This article in the Nome Nugget newspaper explains the issue. Please wait for the sound recording to download.

We were heading to the Pilgrim Warm Springs but the road was blocked a few miles before we could get there. It was an interesting ride nevertheless. The evening meal was in a local Chinese/Japanese/American restaurant then back to the boat for a quiet evening game of cards and early night.

Integrity was the 368th boat to have ever transited the North West Passage.

I flew south this morning to Anchorage and will visit Vancouver before heading back home, in time to go sailing again!

Integrity on the morning I left. There was a thick frost on the decks, a sign that autumn is creeping in

Now that the journey is over there will be time to gather thoughts about the little adventure. I haven’t been able to upload photos to the blog (as of 1st October 2023) using the rather scanty access to wifi so I will back-track and insert the pics as soon as I can. There will be a shared download between the crew so I can pick the best and credit appropriately. I will add route maps to each post so the text makes more sense and I will include bits of missing information in italics. That will include populations, distances and maybe news of other yachts making the transit. I will also add the usual reading times and generally tidy things up. I will then add some general thoughts about the adventure. Hopefully it may be of some use to others contemplating the voyage. I can always be contacted on my “Sumara” email if you think I can help. I am always happy to chat about Arctic adventures!

A big congratulations goes to Will, who managed to get the boat up to Resolute on time for the rendezvous despite very tight ice conditions. He, and Arthur and Dan, were a pleasure to sail with.

One response to “North West Passage – Days 46 – 48 – Nome to Home!”

  1. A great way to spend all those hard earned wages. It’s been lovely to read your blog posts. Thanks for sharing. Safe travels. R

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