Smoking Hills and Snowgoose Passage
02 September 2010 | Franklin Bay
Liz for Dermot
Yes it's that guy Franklin popping up again, this time from one of his previous overland expeditions. He did do some amazing expeditions but on this trip, as winter approached, he was advised to stop. Knowing that he would need a more dramatic achievement to gain notoriety and publicity, he pressed on. He lost eleven men as a result.
It was a pretty competitive environment these explorers worked in. when one came back with a plan to name a group of islands in James Ross Strait the "Clarence Islands", it was pointed out that there weren't enough for each of his children and that he should just draw in a few more islands! Would make subsequent navigation challenging!
Made good progress, still motoring, through the night. On my watch I was surprised to see a whole host of lights on our starboard bow that transpired to be another more active defence early warning station (unmanned) on Cape Parry.
Every night for several days we have had a very bright planet in the eastern sky. I spent a whole two hour watch consulting books and tables, and going back to basics of astronavigation. The conclusion of my efforts was that it is Jupiter. Just s well we aren't relying upon my astronav to actually fix a position!
For those wondering about the progress with the beard, I do need to let you know that it has got to the stage of having to trim the upper lip to prevent having last night's soup in my moustache. Never a good look.
Back in Cambridge Bay, Andrew and I completely took apart the carburettor of the heater fuel line and primed the circuit. This time we jury-rigged a pump to avoid my needing to swallow several more mouthful's of diesel. So far it has seemed to have done the trick or though it hasn't been tested yet in a blow with the boat heeling to port for prolonged periods.
We have been to the Smoking Hills- a very impressive line of smoking cliffs. I have found a bit more details in the Canadian Arctic Pilot. These are a long (50 mile stretch) of cliffs and hills Around Fitton Point that we aimed for the cliffs are 60 metres high. They contain strata of bituminous shale that have been smouldering continuously since their discovery by Sir John Richardson in 1826. The cliffs further south might have been a bit higher and perhaps more dramatic, but would have involved a long diversion and there has been hints of northerly hinds in the forecasts and it would be tedious at best to have to beat out of the bay into the wind.
We gone through an approved but reasonably shallow shortcut over the top of Bathurst Point that saves at least 13 nautical miles called Snowgoose Passage. Got to a least depth of 3.4 metres. On the long sand-bar Maire and I both saw something moving that looked like possibly a boat with aerials on the opposite side. Then a big cribouu with impressive antlers ran up onto the skyline!
After that we are headed for Tuktoyaktuk. Should get in there late on Friday evening. It is a narrow channel and is lit but would be preferable not to arrive in the dark. Your homework is to look up pingos, which are the chief natural feature of the area round Tuk, together with lots of abandoned oil rigs for us to dodge.