Day 17 |
Aug 23, 2013

Arviat, Nunavut, Canada

By Chris Srigley, General Naturalist/Polar Bear Guard


Co-ordinates: 61˚05’925 N, 093˚53’868 W
Weather: Sunny with scattered clouds
Air Temperature: 11˚C / 52˚F
Wind: 20 – 35 knots

This morning Silver Explorer arrived on the Western shores of Hudson Bay at the remote Inuit village of Arviat, the most southerly mainland community of the Nunavut Territory with a population of just over two thousand. The people of Arviat rely heavily on sustenance fishing and hunting for their survival.

Dropping Zodiacs just before 7:00 a.m., I prepared for the distant run to shore as the deck team readied the side gate. Due to the high tides and shallow waters in the area, the ship had to be anchored four miles from our landing.

Our plan for the day was to take the first two of our Zodiac groups to shore at 7:30 a.m. before those of us driving would return to Silver Explorer to pick up the second two just after 10:00 a.m.

With strong winds whipping up a swell, we made slow progress towards the shore. After forty minutes we arrived to our awaiting Expedition Leader Robin West, the rest of the Expedition Team, and local guides. We were wonderfully surprised to find out that we were the first vessel to have visited Arviat in over ten years!

Heading off with their local guides and members of the Expedition Team, guests were introduced to the community and life in a remote Arctic village. Every local greeted our guests with warm welcomes. The people of Arviat had done their utmost to make sure our visit would be memorable.

One of the highlights for all was a personal visit to the home of two of the community’s elders, who served tea and coffee as well as told stories. The most intriguing was one women’s encounter with the Queen. At the time she was wearing one of her daughter’s beaded tops, which the Queen evidently thought was beautiful. No matter the offer though, it seemed the Queen would not be taking it home with her!

As the Zodiacs returned to the ship to pick up the next groups, it was clear that the winds were increasing and with it the size of the swell. Trying their best to create a lee, Captain Maggie and her officers on the bridge made the difficult decision that it was not safe for us to continue our operation. Those on board the vessel looking down on the side gate from above could easily tell the correct decision had been made as swell after swell came up over the platform.

With operations cancelled the Zodiacs turned back towards shore and made the wet and bumpy ride once again. Upon our arrival everyone who had made it to shore was waiting. With the wind at our sterns we surfed the increasing swell home to the awaiting Silver Explorer where Captain Maggie had lifted anchor and created just enough lee for us to transfer our guests safely from the zodiacs to the ship.

With all back on board Silver Explorer turned south and steamed towards tomorrow’s destination of Churchill Manitoba.

Jumping in to fill the void in our early afternoon, Biologist Kara Weller invited all to join her in the Lecture Theatre for a lecture ‘A Comparison of the Polar Regions’ before Climatologist Claudia Holgate gave her talk on climate change. A look at the Polar Regions, their differences, and the role each plays on a global scale, paired with a talk on climate change and the role it may play in the future made for an amazing combination.

It had been an exciting day but by no means was it over. Just as the last of the guests were finishing up their dinner, Robin came over the ships speakers to announce that the Northern Lights were out. By the time I had grabbed my camera and reached the outer decks there was hardly a place to stand as the lights danced across the sky around us. Minutes later their intensity began to fade, and it was time to retire for the night. Time to prepare ourselves for the excitement of tomorrow!