By Richard Knapton
It was the last day of our marvelous “Into the Northwest Passage Tour”. We were traveling out of Coronation Gulf, midway between Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk, everyone relaxing, enjoying the warm weather and sunshine. We had spent the morning ashore, admiring the amazing Stromatolites (fossil algal mounds) and listening to the yodeling of Yellow-billed Loons, watching circling Golden Eagles as they hunted Arctic Ground Squirrels, puzzling over Redpolls (Hoary? Common?) and finding Harris’s Sparrow and other goodies, and were on our way to the last port of call at Kugluktuk. Well, not quite! A grinding noise, some shuddering of the ship, and …. We had run aground! An unchartered rocky reef, and there we were, at a slight tilt, stuck!
After an assessment of the situation, after an attempt or two to reverse off the rock, there was nothing left to do but … relax some more and enjoy the sun and warm weather some more! There was still plenty of entertainment left in the staff, still plenty of good food aboard, still Thayer’s Gulls to watch, and an amazing display of Northern Lights – where the lights appeared in dramatic waves and swirled across the sky. Two days later the coastguard vessel Amundsen appeared on the horizon, and we were all whisked off by zodiacs onto the coastguard, and onto Kugluktuk and our planes home. Perhaps the message to take home is just how remote our northern Arctic islands are, that the closest vessel was two days away, and still lots needs to be done in charting and mapping the area. So, our tour was in partnership with Adventure Canada, and indeed we certainly had an adventure!