Expedition Report: Igloolik

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5th/6th of September, by Dario:
voyage link: https://share.delorme.com/ChristinaHartmann

As a father of 5 children between 11 years and 8 months, I am concerned! Not so much about their safety on board our sailboat, much more about the speed of climate change. This I shared with my new friend Donald in Igloolik, – read more below:

Navigating in all oceans since more than 2 decades, we became part of the sea. The sea is fair and you are safe, if you learn to read nature’s signs, respect them and turn back, if nature does not invite you.

To go via Fury and Hecla Strait through Hudson Bay was not an easy decision, but we were more than invited to give it a try. We would not have lost any time by trying because even if we would have had turn back because of too much ice. There were already the first winter gales in Lancaster Sound. We were sitting out this stormy period in Fort Ross, without much hope that it was ending soon. So I think, we used our time efficiently and got rewarded by making it through. – Sabine and I are tired, but very happy that we faced the challenge. It was a big lesson also for our kids and all on board in perseverance.

We are now at N69.22W81.47, in the safe harbor of Igloolik. We just got a message from ice breaker Ernest Shackleton, that the Gulf of Boothia, the entrance to the Fury and Hecla Strait, which we only just transited, is starting to freeze up already again. So the window to pass through by sail was less than a week!

Sailing into Igloolik we were surrounded by local boats, hunting families who were wondering who we are. We anchored just in front of the village. On our chart already on the beach once again. The locals were invited on to the boat. They were very interested how everything works, specially our wind generators and solar panels. They offered us fish and caribou and gave us even the best part of a seal. They told us to eat rough with some soja sauce.

The family of Susan and Donald Issigaitok invited us the next Monday morning to their simple home. Meret went to the local radio station and had an interesting experience:
“The local radio was in a little wooden hut, with a colorfully painted outside. Local children and artists painted it with figures, animals and random patterns. It was a two room building that is also used for Bingo nights. Maaku welcomed me in and said: “Are you ready to talk?” I had no idea what to expect. He switched on my mic and told me to introduce myself. After briefly explaining the TOPtoTOP project, the phone calls started. For one and a half hours I answered questions people had. They ranged from what we do in storms to how we pay bills to what the children do school-wise and so on. But the most interesting parts were when people told me their observations of how things were changing up here.
Some said they were concerned because every year they were noticing oil and fuel on the snow as it melted. They thought someone, maybe the commercial planes, might be dumping it secretly.
They also commented that the rate of melting used to be gradual but this year especially, whole chunks were melting away at once.
Another person rang and said that the sonar going on a little north of here had caused all the belugas, narwhals and seals to disappear. They used to be abundant and even come into the bay. But that isn’t the case anymore.
It went on along those lines. It was very interesting to hear the people’s stories but also sad to hear the hopelessness many expressed. It would have been to stay a bit longer and hear more but I grateful they had shared all this with me.”

We were able to shower, do laundry and got a fatty delicious dinner at the Issigaitok’s.
Sabine and I stayed most of the day on Pachamama, where we managed to fix two leaks. I took a leaking sea water pump to Donald. I have never met such a talented mechanic so far. He managed to fix the seals and the broken shaft hardly without any special tools. To get the missing parts he spend 2 hours at a land fill, where people dump their trash and where he found all the parts and pieces to fix the pump and a water intake cover. People up here, in this remote villages, became masters in improvisation and he was the king of all! I donated him a Victorinox knife (see picture).
Our kids and I had a sleep over at Issigaitok’s two-bed-room-house. So they were seven people in the family and five of us, a natural way to keep warm. Even when it gets below 55 Celsius in winter.

Donald fishes and hunts caribou and seals. I was listening to his stories till early morning. Over centuries nature provided them enough food to have a living in this harsh climate.
Today the climate is changing. Animals are disappearing. Local hunters have to travel far to find game. Donald has to work now in a mechanic workshop to make a living. In his eyes, I read, that he would rather hunt to support his family like before. He is also very much concerned like me about the warming.

Because of Labor Day on Monday we visited the elementary school and high school on Tuesday morning. We did a presentation and a clean up. At the High School we were able to join the students having breakfast. It was such a joy to drink real milk again after a long time.
After the school we shortly met some scientists of the Igloolik Research Center, a wildlife research center.

We had a last goodbye meal at Issigaito’s house, before rushing to the beach. The wind changed and picked up fast and Pachamama was already close to the rocks. The goodbye was very emotional even though we met two days for the 1st time, – they wanted us to overwinter in the bay… A last hug from our friends, then rowing fast to Pachamama, heave anchor and set sail south again.

See where we are: https://share.delorme.com/ChristinaHartmann

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