The Team are all back in the Catholic Mission, Taloyoak, all safe and sound. The JD (Job Done), the whole expedition tick list complete and more. Everyone in the Team is ecstatic with the results we have all achieved, both as a Team and as individuals.
The first phase of the expedition took around eight days to get to the Thom Bay Mission. This was a frustrating time for everyone, only making around two to three nautical miles per day. This was only on the Lakes before we encountered the Sea Ice.
Phase two was getting to Thom Bay Mission and to the two harbours of Sherriff and Felix. The unexpected finds at the Mission, of the three anchors, put everyone on a high. But every night the sentry routine kept everyones feet firmly on the ground and with Dom’s wise words from time to time telling us not to forget the threats of the land, a threat which later was to become a reality.
Moving out of Thom Bay proved to be a bit of a challenge, we sat and waited for the Ice to shift for around three days. So we decided to go back on ourselves in order to make any progress. Once across the bay we set up camp again, for just one night this time because we didn’t want to risk getting frozen in. One more push and we made it to the peninsular of Cape North Hendon, again another camp. The next morning we woke up to the nightmare of being frozen in by the Sea Ice, we couldn’t proceed in any direction by sea. We were going to have to go to Sherriff and Felix Harbour by foot. The Bootnecks were now chomping at the bit with the thought of some good old “Yomping”.
With the boats now in a cache, we yomped to Sherriff Harbour first where we completed our work in only one day and overnight. Moving on to Felix Harbour there was a treat in store for all of us when we found the engine parts fom the Victory. We then spent three days there logging all of the artifacts and sketching and measuring them for our post expedition reports. Once this was done we had to make plans for our extraction, which was going to take some planning with only seven days left.
Back to the boats and we were now looking at portaging the whole of our kit all the way back to clear water, around eight nautical miles. That was until Killer suggested that maybe we try and get through the small gaps in the ice, to which Dom said “Lets give it a go, give it a try!”. Try we did and we succeeded more than we ever thought possible. Our Avon LIB’s were doing a sterling job against the main Sea Ice, proving very robust and durable. Even though we only had Mariner 25hp engines on the LIB’s we had sufficient power to get us around the bergs.
Then we sent a recce party ahead, on the shore side, to see if there were any open leads that we could head towards. It was here that we saw our first Polar Bear. The Bear was a young male and he was just kicking back and chilling out on an Ice Berg until we woke him up, we were heading straight towards him. We had to fire six cracker shots at him until he was a sufficient distance away. We had to make haste now incase he came back, that we did and set up camp about another mile up the coast. Sentry routine again that night, firstly around four in the morning Baz and I saw another mother and cub polar bear around a kilometer away. We sat and watched them until they disappeared out of site. Baz handed over to Dom around five in the morning, Dom and I were just checking the area when another mother and cub came up behind us, only one hundred meters away. Dom fired two cracker shots at them and they ran but not very far. So Dom told me to fire the 3.03 at their feet, four rounds later they were well gone, to the shout of “How do you like those apples?”.
On the move again we finally reached the safety of Krusenstern falls. The following day we travelled the length of Krusenstern Lake, which previously took us six days. Once at the end of the lake we borrowed a Quad bike off the Alookees, which we used to portage the LIBs, engines and the rest of the kit. However to save a lot of time Baz and I were going to yomp again, around 25 kilometers to Middle Lake. Typical Bootnecks again can’t finish anything without an extraction yomp. At the end of Middle Lake we had a final boat transit before we were met by David, a very helpful local with one of the only trucks in the area. With his help we transported our kit back to the Catholic Mission in Taloyoak, who were being most hospitable again and accommodating us.
Back in the Mission everyone was glad to have completed the expedition to such a high standard and achieved so much. The next step a nice hot shower and some proper food - our first in four weeks. Just when we thought we were finished our adventure we were invited onto the Ice Breaker, Canadian Coast Guard ship, for our evening meal, as they were moored off Taloyoak overnight. Our bellies now full and all on a high, the next step to look forward is the flights back to reallity, the UK.