Northwest Passage voyagers make history . . . maybe next time?

[Here endeth our Adventure Canada voyage Out of the Northwest Passage. . . .]



Sept. 20

 Today we visited what is arguably the most
picturesque community in Greenland. The settlement of Itilleq is 49 km south of
Sisimiut on a small island at the mouth of Itilleq Fjord. Inhabited by about
100 Greenlanders, the town comprises a couple of dozen brightly painted houses
built on rocky black slopes. A neat graveyard alive with bright white crosses
overlooks the town. And beyond lies a spectacular ring of mountains.

The church was built in Thule in 1933 and moved here
three decades later. Today, it serves as a youth club and community centre.
About twenty people came on board the Ocean Endeavour for lunch, among them
some of the most amenable children in the Arctic. One two-year-old uttered not
a word of complaint while staffer Dave Freeze carried him hither and yon.

At the heart of Itilleq lies a soccer pitch, complete
with two nets. Here, a team of ambitious voyagers entered into a match. . . and
came within a hair’s breadth of making history by winning. We brought ashore a
number of ringers, among them Laura Baer, yoga teacher and zodiac driver. Another
of them, fellow driver Dawson Freeze, registered a beautiful goal. And hard-driving
passenger Eddie Carnegie notched a second.

Meanwhile, unfortunately, the Itilleq team scored
three times, and so walked away with a victory. Team members accepted the
Adventure Canada trophy with good cheer. Fact remains: the red-shirted
cheerleaders, under the leadership of Dave Freeze, stole the show with their
effervescence, their spirited chants, and their explosive dance routines. Yay,
Polar Bears!



Monday, Sept. 21

Kangerlussuaq lies at the end of one of the world’s
longest fjords, Sondre Stromfjord, which runs inland for 168 kilometres. This
is the site of one of Greenland’s four airports. The U.S. military built it during
the Second World War, and vacated in 1992. Voyagers spit into two groups, with
one travelling to the ice cap and the other doing a nature tour that included a
stop at a glacial lake and a long-distance sighting of hard-to-find muskox.

The previous evening had culminated in an ebullient
kitchen party featuring the house band. Unbeknownst to many, it also brought
the resolution of a kidnapping mystery that had been inspired by Margaret
Atwood’s Stone Mattress. Photographer
Andre Gallant had taken to presenting situational images of a rubber chicken he
called McChickie. 

One night at the bar, a few staffers had kicked around the
idea of kidnapping Gallant’s yellow bird . . . and, when the popular critter
disappeared, and ransom demands ensued, suspicion fell mainly on the late-night
conspirators. Incredibly, the real culprits — staffers Natalie Swain and Judy
Acres — had hatched a parallel plan independently. But, unlike the late-night
talkers, they had acted on it. To Gallant’s relief, McChickie resurfaced

After dinner, with most voyagers heading for their
cabins and the ship sailing into  Sondre
Stromfjod, the Aurora Borealis exploded into the night-time sky. This display
of Northern Lights provided a fitting cap to a voyage that had taken us more
than 5,000 kilometres through the Northwest Passage. Ah, for just one time . .

[ In 2016, Sheena (our artist-photographer) 
and I sail Into the Passage. Check it out. Maybe catch you then?]

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