A full day in Pangnirtung

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Thu 26 Aug 2010 19:14
66:09.207N 65:42.703W Wednesday night

Kali and Magnus got us underway at 0400 this morning and I took over the watch at 0800 to bring us into Pangnirtung. It's a bigger settlement than Clyde River and looks much more prosperous. As we were surveying outside the town looking for an anchorage, a plane landed. I thought it was going to crash into the settlement as the runway is in the middle of town. It looked like landing a plane in Tesco's car park. We anchored up just outside a rocky reef to let Magnus and Kali go into the small harbour and check it out. They came back to report that there was nowhere near enough water for us but that we should be able to get in there at high tide to take on diesel.

While they were there, they'd found out that the fishermen we'd met on Kekerten had a mooring near where we were anchored so we borrowed it. Kali and Magnus were tired after their early start so Andrea and I went into town together. We discovered (oh joy) that the main supermarket had a KFC and Pizza Hut inside so we were able to get some chips for lunch. In fact, we ended up with a shoe-box of chips each which cost us about £20. From there, we went in search of Internet with precious little success. We did find a Parks Canada office with a helpful chap who told us about the National Park at the top of the fjord and gave us a leaflet telling us what to do if attacked by a Polar Bear. Point 1 is to ring the Parks Dept on the sat phone. It does help by suggesting that you keep a record of which part of your body gets bitten off and how many of your party don't make it. Oh, and it suggests that you use Pepper Spray but admits that this probably won't work. You're allowed to "fight back" but you're not allowed to take a firearm into the park (unless you're an Inuit, in which case you can take a small arsenal). I think the Canadians should join the EU - they'd get on very well.

Anyway, I got the diesel sorted out for 5pm when the tide was going to be up and we booked into the Hotel for dinner for us all. Andrea had found an Art Centre in town which looked like a craft shop really. They offered us a tour of their workshops which we accepted and it was amazing. Their print workshop was huge and beautiful with a bunch of Inuit artists hard at work, mostly making stencil prints with multiple colours, each with it's own stencil. We met a couple of the guys who were lovely to talk to and very interested in our trip. Another woman was on the tour with us and it turned out that she'd been walking in the National Park with 3 friends. Our guide then handed us over to another woman who showed us the tapestry studio. It was even more impressive - a lovely circular building with looms all around and coloured wools laid out in the centre. She'd been to West Dean and knew some of the people in Andrea's art group so it really is a small world.

We were asked to sign the visitor's book and shown where Billy Connolly had already done so. Illustrious company indeed. It was now getting late so we got back onboard Saxon Blue and prepared to go fetch our diesel. Magnus went off in the tender to fix up some dock lines and I headed into the tiny harbour. It's full of local boats and the depth was touch and go but I knew that, if we didn't quite make it into the dock, we'd rest harmlessly on a ledge of mud and fill up from there. In the event, we actually got alongside with about 6 inches of water below the keel. We just drifted in really slowly, pivoting on a single line. By the time we were tied up, we had a big audience. The truck driver was friendly and took the time to make sure I knew how to pay and was happy with everything and then he filled us up with about 520 litres. I was stood on the dock and fielding questions from a bunch of interested and friendly locals. They know their boats around here so the questions were interesting. One guy couldn't believe that our entire mainsail could fit inside the mast and a woman spent ages having a lovely chat to Andrea about where we'd been and what it was like living in Pangnirtung.

The truck driver took me up to the Inuit co-op to pay for the fuel and then drove me back and we prepared to leave. It was blowing about 20 knots by now and their wasn't much room for among the small craft so I had to do a positive manouver to get us out. I sprung us off the bow and then went astern hard to get the bow off the dock before it blew around. Andrea was watching from the dock and she was pretty worried but it all come together and we turned on the spot and headed back out the way we'd come. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself which is always a bad sign. Sure enough, we picked up Chester's buoy and promptly started dragging it across the fjord. Andrea had gone to the hotel to get them warmed up for dinner but hadn't taken a VHF so I couldn't tell her what was going on.

Kali, Magnus and I had a discussion about our options. We decided to anchor ourselves again rather than leave immediately and head back to Kekerten. I went ashore to join Andrea for our hotel dinner while the others stayed on Saxon Blue on anchor watch. We brought them back a take-away dinner. We had a good meal - I had roast beef and Andrea had Arctic Char - and an interesting chat with the Canadian woman who we'd met earlier and her friends. Kali told us on the VHF that the anchor was holding and that it was pretty calm onboard. As soon as we wanted to come back, though, things got rougher. We got wet in the tender and it's now blowing up to 40 knots outside. The anchor is holding but Saxon Blue is yawing around like a wild thing. I don't think we'll get much sleep and we may have to leave in the night and head back for Kekerten. Why they always put the settlements up here in the worst possible harbours is a bit of a mystery to me.


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