Monday 28th August 2023 

“Breaking News” Guess who made the big TV screen in the Explorer Lounge.

Overnight we made good progress towards Cambridge Bay and arrived a little before 07:00.

The settlement and the region featured on an old David Bellamy programme about the NWP and the Inuit people. This was used a lot in H’s teaching of the Far North and is still preserved at home on DVD. The opening sequence had Bellamy studying copies of the Belgian paintings of Franklin’s end and the Stan Roger’s lament about the doomed third Franklin Expedition of 1845.

“Ah for just one time I would like to take the Northwest Passage

To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea

Tracing one warm line through a land so wide and savage

And make a Northwest Passage to the sea

Westward from the Davis Strait ‘tis there ‘twas said to lie

The sea route to the Orient for which so many died

Seeking gold and glory leaving weathered broken bones

And a long forgotten lonely cairn of stones.”

Today is a timely reminder that we will be at the “heart of the story” of the discovery and the tragedy surrounding the NWP. We are however, coming across the archaeology and history in reverse.

Last evening, we passed the mouth of the Coppermine River on our starboard side and were reminded of the search for Franklin. In “The Arctic Seas: A narrative of the discovery of the fate of Sir John Franklin and his companions” F. L. McClintock, 1859 “As early as the winter of 1846 – 7 there were gloomy anticipations – as the ships were provisioned for three years there were no grounds for anxiety but large supplies under the charge of Doctor John Rae were sent to the Hudson’s Bay Company by the inland water route to the mouth of the Mackenzie or of the Coppermine or to other stations on the coast.” We will see more of this later.

Cambridge Bay is a typical Inuit settlement with the essential ‘honey trucks’, collecting sewage and their counterparts delivering fresh water and fuel oil. The buildings are raised above the ground to protect the permafrost and after some 3 hours of exploration we were back on board and ready for the next art of the transit.

Another Amundsen Exploration is centred here. Abandoned in Cambridge and frozen into the ice in 1926 was the original Maud. This was the ship that he used to transit the Northeast Passage and having been abandoned here was salvaged and taken to the Oslo Fjord in 2016 -17 before being preserved in 2018 in its home town of Volen.

Around 7:00 p.m. we rendezvoused with the sister ship Fridtjof Nansen and transferred supplies before making our own ways east and west.

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