Well blow me down, by the Grace of God,
we have done it!
At 130pm local time we pulled into this
small remote village of Paulutuk, our end point, at the tip of
Darnley Bay - and all of us are so so relieved!
What an amazing 36 hours. As we headed
North West yesterday through the initial glassy seas we pulled into
a small sheltered bay and discovered an abandoned USA earfly
warning radar base. It was a pretty awesome sight, rows of metal
buildings, built onto the rock, looking like some lunar base in the
middle of nowhere. I can only imagine what you would have had to
have done to get posted to this place!
We left there and as we rounded the
northern tip of Dease Strait and entered the infamous Beaufort Sea
we began to get hit by what was the beginning of some large beam
seas, which are always the most dangerous ones for a small
inflatable craft like ours. But we knew the weather would be
worsening the next day.
We took a brief look at our proposed
anchorage and together reckoned it would be worth going for gold
and heading another 130 miles along this barren, shelter less coast
to Pearce point. (Dave (Pearce) was especially excited by this!) It
was make or break time for us. The sun disappeared and the prospect
of being caught out at sea in the beaufort loomed. As did the
gritty prospect of attempting to anchor and find shelter in the
We were now being caught up in some
horrible seas and in the words of Tim: "the most terrifying
conditions yet!" But this is the Beaufort Sea doing what she is so
famed for - wild, windy, confused seas, unforgiving and
unpredictable. But the team all helmed fantastically with great
skill and concentration and finally in the half dark we ducked into
this tiny small cove protected on all sides by rock. It would prove
the best of all the spots we have used.
I spotted a very big grizzly as we
pulled in, which added a slight edge to our night, and we found big
fresh spore and some giant paw prints. (Decision made on the bear
watch and armed patrol!) All was good though and the bear stayed
away, and at first light we left Pearce point and headed for our
last leg in. As if the Beaufort Sea was reminding us never to take
anything for granted, as we rounded the corner of Darnley bay,
hoping for sheltered seas, we got hit by fierce winds and large
cresting mixed beam and head seas. Yuck!
The team knuckled down one more time,
and finally we made the RV point. We are at now anchor in 5 ft of
water in a whistling wind, awaiting our supply vessel, whereupon we
all intend to open a large bottle of whisky, pack our kit and
prepare for a dawn flight out from this tiny dirt airstrip on the
coast, in an even tinier plane. It is then time to head south and
back to everything that we all love and have missed so dearly.
Tina, Jane, Shara, Anita and Mrs Jones (!), we are coming home safe
and sound - as promised. You, like me, have good reason to be so
proud of what these guys have achieved. Mission done.
Bear and team