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Fury and Hecla Strait

We spent the night surrounded by the ice as we had to wait for daylight to again be escorted by the Icebreaker Pierre Radisson. There are many areas of dense multi-year sea ice and as soon as there was enough light our journey to make it through Fury and Hecla Strait began again.    The weather gods continued to smile on us, as it was a beautiful morning with blue skies and sunshine. Read More>

Sep 2, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Fury and Hecla Strait VIDEO

Fury and Hecla Strait: With a Little Help From Our Friends For the final approach to Fury and Hecla Strait on the southwest corner of Baffin Island, we needed some assistance. Read More>

Sep 1, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Eclipse Harbour, Boothia Peninsula & Gulf of Boothia

The geese are calling. We sense the changing of the seasons. Summer fades into terra cotta richness in the tundra. It is as if the warm colours of fall attempt to extend summer temperatures just a little longer. The days too are becoming shorter. The sun still crawls into the sky at sunrise but at a much more civilized hour on the clock, just as it exits slowly at an earlier hour.   Glimmering in the sunshine, flocks of snow geese and Canada geese winged their way overhead, moving in a classic V-formation. Read More>

Aug 31, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Prince Regent Inlet and the Gulf of Boothia, Nunavut

Imagine yourself in the Royal Navy, sailing through ice-choked waters in search of the Northwest Passage. Perhaps you were a midshipman, only eleven years old, the second or subsequent son of a titled family. Your father had only one peerage and one estate to bestow and those went to your older brother. You could only hope for a career in the Royal Navy, and your father used his influence to gain you appointment as a "volunteer." With Napoleon defeated and no battles to be fought, the Northwest Passage was your only avenue to promotion and fame. Were you an ordinary seaman living "below decks"? You enlisted to avoid the grinding poverty of some coastal city. Read More>

Aug 30, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Prince Regent Inlet

After our refueling stop outside of Pond Inlet yesterday we made our way west and south as we continue on our expedition in Nunavut. The morning was foggy with light winds. National Geographic Explorer made her way to Prince Regent Inlet. We passed by one of the Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers as she was moving east. Read More>

Aug 29, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Approaching Baffin Island

An unavoidable facet of exploring by ship is the need to maintain and to fuel the vessel. For as long as humans have been venturing far from home by boat, the logistics of keeping a vessel in ‘ship shape’ is as important as finding food and staying healthy. With a track that leads through sparsely populated areas and often ice-clogged ports, attaining fuel for National Geographic Explorer can be a tricky process. Luckily for us, in this region of the Canadian Arctic, it’s possible to get fuel while still underway at sea. For much of the day, we were tied to the Danish refueling vessel Oratank receiving the fuel necessary to complete the final leg of our grand journey. Yet, the red tanker off our bow wasn’t our only companion.  Many of us stared off into the fog, endless rows of waves pulling us into a meditative trance as we slipped into the infinity of thoughts. Read More>

Aug 28, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Nares Strait, Smith Sound & Baffin Bay

After the sensory overload of the past two days spent on Ellesmere Island, today has been a most opportune hiatus and has allowed us to regroup, reflect, and rest. However there have been many activities to keep us occupied. The weather conditions have continued to be calm; the skies clear in the morning and a lot of ice about and then slowly into serene open waters with little ice and more overcast conditions. Read More>

Aug 27, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Nares Strait, between Ellesmere Island and Greenland

The morning wake-up call came earlier than expected, but a call that includes the words "polar bear" and "ice floe" will rouse us from our slumber. We groped for our warm clothing. We had moved northward during the night, along the east coast of Ellesmere Island. In the early morning we encountered a patch of "polar bear ice," the mixture of first-year and multi-year sea ice the is the preferred habitat of the ice bears. Our binoculars seek out any small ivory-colored dot on an otherwise white ice surface. We strain to see the dot move. Yes, it is a bear, spotted at a considerable distance. We approach, ever so slowly, stalking the polar bear much as the bear stalks seals on the ice.   As the strange, dark object that is our ship approaches, the bear rises but it does not flee. Read More>

Aug 26, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Ellesmere Island, Qikiqtaaluck, Nunavut VIDEO

Today was another first for National Geographic Explorer: a visit to Ellesmere Island. Not one of us had ever been here before. Our fearless expedition leader, Lisa Kelley, chose an excellent quote for today’s program by Sir Ernest Shackleton “I go exploring because I like it and it’s my job.” Ellesmere Island is Canada’s third-largest island and it a place rarely visited by tourists. Read More>

Aug 25, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Philpots Island and the Icebergs

We spent the morning sailing eastward within the Parry Channel off the south coast of Devon Island. By midday, we had reached Philpots Island, a geological structure consisting of ancient red granite that is part of the Ellesmere-North Greenland geological complex. It has been dated to 1.6 billion years in age! The plan was to go ashore on rocky Philpots Island for a chance to hike about on the tundra and search for interesting flora and fauna, including extensive moss beds with interspersed flowering vascular plants, various bird species, Arctic hares, and perhaps even musk oxen.   Almost as soon as we anchored in a broad bay, we sighted a lone polar bear resting on a promontory looking over the entire shore where we hoped to make our landing. Read More>

Aug 24, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

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