Hatt-Trick Harbor

August 10, 2019

Soon after departing Pond Inlet, Alioth and Mo become separated. Alioth is a sleek vessel with a lifting keel and a waterline length greater than Mo’s overall, which is to say she’s a knot faster without trying. And too, our agendas differ. Vincent wishes to sight the Narwals said to frequent the opening of Milne Inlet, and so for the night targets a cove on the back side of Ragged Island. I am more attracted to a little-explored bay just S and E of Cape Hatt. 

Wind remains light from the E, and the 35 mile passage is uneventful, save for a heavier than expected chop at the head of the inlet that sets Mo to rolling like she was at sea again. Books, dishes, even a fuel can go flying. I’ve gotten too used to a level playing field in the miles and miles of calm since St John’s.

On my chart, the bay is nameless and without soundings, but the Pilots are cautiously optimistic. “…said to be a snug harbour,” reports the Canadian Sailing Directions. “…is navigable for small vessels. Depths vary throughout…caution should be exercised,” says Wilkes in ARCTIC AND NORTHERN WATERS.

What attracts me most is its shape. The N-facing entrance is long, narrow, and overlaps the bay entirely; the interior appears to have three arms, each with the possibility of being landlocked. As described before, a landlocked bay is often sheltered from all weathers. Here, once secured, a vessel can be safe always, a sailor can drop his guard.

I go dead slow down the fairway, favoring the E shore, where a chartlet provided by Vincent suggests is better water. Luckily we are at the bottom of the low. Least depths are 20 feet here and 50 feet middle bay. I gently explore each arm and find that the bottom rises slowly and evenly. There are no surprises. Finally, I ease Mo behind the N headland and anchor in 25 feet. The hook bites without a grumble.

With the engine off, I can admire my find in silence. All around, the landform–the eroded remains of high ranges to the N and S–slopes gently down to the beach. And all is indeed landlocked, profoundly landlocked. Here we feel not the tiniest hint of the rolling chop and crashing breakers outside. And from where Mo sits on the hook, I can’t see the entrance or even where one might be. It is as if we had been transported in an instant to a high desert lake. 

Mo is motionless; the water is glass. The hills sit quietly by. Nothing moves, not a bird, not a bear.

An Inuit camp in the SE arm and an empty fuel barrel on a near beach suggest we are not the first humans to discover this gem. But as neither the charts nor the Pilots give this spot a name, I do: Hatt Trick Harbor, a nod to the northern Cape and the fact that this is really thee excellent anchorages in one. 

Monte (MonTAY) is disgusted and refuses to speak to me the rest of the day.

6 Comments on “Hatt-Trick Harbor

  1. What about mosquitoes and biting bugs in those pristine anchorages and summer season in the Arctic?

  2. Randall, somehow I cannot believe the tracker anymore. For hours now it shows you “moving” with an average of 5.5-8.5 knots, but the boat symbol did not leave the bay at the west of Bylot Island… only the tracker points are wandering around. Mostly ashore. 😉

    • Ah, and tell Montay my best wishes, there will be enough to do later in Beaufort. He should catch some days of good sleep.

  3. Randall, there is a book I read years ago about a young ambitious sailor who purchased a steel hull sailboat with the plan to winter over in the far north. I believe this bay is the location of his winter adventure. As winter approached the Canadian Coast Guard arrived in a helicopter and offered to take him and his wife to safety. He refused to go but his wife accepted the offer. A few days later they returned one last time and lowered a 55 gallon drum of fuel, likely the one you are looking at on the beach.

    He did survive but it was an incredible story and he was very lucky at best. Enjoy, but don’t get any ideas to do what he did, get out of there as soon as the passage opens up.

    Thanks for all the great posts, very much appreciated

    R Wagner

  4. Mon TAY has beaten you to the punch Navionics has it named Tay Bay.

    • My apologies Randall…didn’t realize that this post was one day older than I thought. Tay Bay is the next post and MonTAY must be thrilled.

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