September 4, 2019
Days at Sea: 276
Days Since Departure: 340
Noon Position: 69 56N 132 25W
Course(t)/Speed(kts): SW 5
Wind(t/tws): SE <10
Sea(t/ft): SE 1
Sky/10ths Cover: Altocumulus 9
On-deck Temp(f): 44
Cabin Temp(f): 57
Water Temp(f): 38
Relative Humidity(%): 50
Magnetic Variation: 20.9
Sail: #1 and main, full; wind on the beam.
Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 135
Miles since departure: 35,128
The strangest thing about yesterday was that two hours after rounding the top of the Baillie Islands, a large raven flew over the boat. The color pallet for pelagics favors white and pale grays. When a bird is dark in color, it goes as far as a rich, chocolate brown. But there is no such thing as an all-black deep sea bird, not to mention one so pure in its blackness that its wing stroke ricochets the sun as silver bullets.
Ravens are not unknown of up here; I heard their bell-like call in the village of Pond Inlet, and Alvah Simon talks of a raven that spent the winter with him in Tay Bay. But this is the first one I’ve seen so far from an outpost. I flew below for a camera, but by the time I regained the deck, it was gone. Not receding toward the horizon and out of shot–just gone.
We must have been five miles offshore when we received the visit. From deck level, the view was all water, brown as the River Nile. We were in the lee of the islands now. Wind was off the land, and I distinctly recall the smell of pine trees, though trees must be absent from here to at least five degrees further south.
The sun, the turbid water, the land bird, the earthy smells, were more reminiscent of sailing the back bays of home rather than a thin strip of water between Arctic Ocean ice and the barren rock of extreme northern Canada.
All day the water remained shallow and opaque. Brown to clay to a muddy emerald color and then back to brown. In the night we were overtaken by a long-tow tug, the Henry Cristoffersen, also bound for Tuk. With binoculars, I could see the white of its superstructure astern and aft of it three large barges.
About this time I realized the SW course-line I’d carelessly set on the chart plotter took Mo over a number of drying shoals further on. Working back out into deeper water crossed the tug’s bow in a way that made us both nervous. It slowed, I sped up as best I could. Mo wasn’t safe and back on course until early morning.
From here on, wind we had. We motor-sailed over Baillie and then went full sail with the breeze abeam. In the night, the working jib split again and right at the patch applied in Halifax. Then I noticed that a batten pocket on the main had come free of its pin. Jobs for Tuk.
Shallow shallow all the way. But no grounding and anchor down two hours before sunset off the pier and Northern store. Mo is so still as to not be floating at all. Next, uninterrupted sleep.