This is the third instalment on my trip through the Northwest Passage this summer, on the One Ocean Expedition from Greenland to Cambridge Bay, following the path of Franklin.
Click to hear Stan Rogers sing “The Northwest Passage”
I want to share some photos of my favourite spot from the voyage – the passage through Bellot Strait. This is a narrow passage between Somerset Island and the Boothia Peninsula, the most northernly point of North America. It is also the place where the waters of the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans meet. While Franklin did not pass through here, nowhere else symbolizes the Northwest Passage more than this spectacular place.
The meeting of two oceans must have created a fertile environment, because everywhere we looked we saw animals. The seals were numerous, and very curious, and came up close to the zodiacs where we were out exploring earlier in the day. We also watched a mother and cub polar bear as they passed by, swimming from one island to the next, and then climbing up the cliff. We saw a unconcerned bearded seal sunning himself on an iceberg in a quiet bay. We saw a muskox grazing on the grass of the strait, and we saw 4 polar bears swimming in the water alongside us as we went through the strait.
The strait is narrow and the current is strong, and so we had to time our passage with the tides. This happened to be late in the evening, near sunset, and so it was a magical journey. The wind and water were calm, and it was a lovely and peaceful evening on the upper deck of the ship, travelling west towards the setting sun. Everyone was out on deck, and we were all filled with the wonder and beauty of the experience, some 100 people with full hearts. So much so that we broke into song, and sang a few rousing choruses of Stan’s song. It was a time I hope I never forget.