Sunday 19 August 2012

One Ocean Expeditions - Northwest Passage - Baffin Island

Ship: M/V Akademik Ioffe
Operator: One Ocean Expeditions
Itinerary: Northwest Passage 12-26 August 2012

Date: Sat 18 August 2012. Temp: 4°C
Location: Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada.
72deg 54.5'N, 075deg 57.6'W
Distance travelled: 1008NM

The last 24 hours NW across Baffin Strait signifies we are now into the Northwest Passage proper. Named after a 17th century sea pilot, William Baffin, who guided early expeditions into the region, the vast inland sea was not officially recognised (or even believed) until Capt. Ross revisited 200 years later. Pond Inlet, at the top of Baffin Island which forms the western shore of the strait, is a tiny Canadian outpost a couple of notches beyond the northernmost point of the USA, Point Barrow in Alaska, and is primarily inhabited by Inuit. Each one of the hopeful explorers would have passed this waypoint on their journey west, some of them to return, others not.

At Pond Inlet the locals turned out to perform some Inuit songs and dances in traditional costume, some sombre, others overtly comical with contorted faces and exaggerated gestures which sent waves of laughter through our group. As many of the first Europeans noted, the 'Esquimo' were resourceful, good-natured and enjoyed fun and laughs. As with many of these isolated hamlets, unemployment is high and those with jobs are mainly in government employ, but there is news of a large iron ore mine opening to the south. Understandably there is mixed opinion about it likely effects on tiny Pond

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