Monday, July 14, 2014

kayaking through the ice floes

Before I start talking about my first kayaking trip of the year, allow me one complaint:

Long Point

The sky has been hazy and the air smells like wood burning, which is curious because there are no trees in Nunavut. Although I have not received any confirmation about this from a reliable source, I am pretty sure this is smoke blowing in from the forest fires in the Northwest Territories. It is seriously getting in the way of my plans to get an Arctic suntan.  The weather forecast originally called for sun and cloud; now it calls for sun and cloud and "local smoke".  Local? I don't think so. Even our smoke here is imported from the Northwest Territories. Dear NWT: please stop.  I know it has been a dry season for you.  Let us set up an inter-territorial exchange program and we will send you some of our ice and snow that remains on our Arctic ocean, and you send us some sun rather than this smoke.  Then I will be able to go and kayak some more.

Oh yes, kayaking.

Our first kayaking excursion of the year! I had been waiting some ten months for this glorious day. Some people, when they have had something to drink, become sleepy or affectionate or angry.  Me, if I've had a couple of beers, I start talking about kayaking. I guess paddling is the hidden desire of my soul. All throughout those long cold winter nights, what keeps me going is the promise of kayaking in the summer.

Even though the Arctic ocean is still partly frozen.

This time last year, the ocean had completely thawed and the mosquitoes were in full force.  This year the ice has stuck around for a lot longer, because our first kayaking excursion of the year involved navigating around all of the chunks of ice that remained on the water and trying to forge a clear path between the ice.


The presence of all the ice in the bay meant that this time we kept our rudders up, because we didn't want to drag them against some of the ice that was hidden under water.  It was more of a challenge than I expected, trying to avoid hitting the ice with the kayaks.  There was a lot of ice under the surface level of the water, so sometimes when you thought you had a clear path between the chunks of ice, you realize that the water is actually quite shallow and you've run aground, stuck on underwater ice.

or sometimes you can just hang out on the ice
At some points, we had no other way through and had to portage our kayaks over the ice to get to the water on the other side.


The ice was still pretty thick, although we had to take care to avoid the dark ice so we wouldn't fall through.

Brent warned us to be careful about getting in and out of the kayaks once we parked on the ice.  It was all too easy to tip over. I wasn't afraid of tipping my kayak over because I was wearing a wetsuit, until Brent mentioned that we wanted to avoid slipping under the ice and not finding our way back to the surface. Um, what? THANKS I DIDN'T REALIZE I HAD THIS PHOBIA UNTIL NOW.

But we all made it to the other side safely and paddled over to the Maud shipwreck.

The Maud shipwreck was still there.

The Norwegians say they are going to take it away this summer, but they said that last year.


We also explored a number of other things as well, such as the question "Is my phone waterproof? Let's test it out by dropping it in the water."

I am rather curious to know how the owners of this kamotik are going to get their sleds back on land.


It was lovely weather and a great start to the kayaking season. I can't wait to get back on the water again soon.