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Devon Island, Nunavut

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Giant iceberg near Devon Island © Students on Ice / WWF-Canon

We sailed the Arctic Tern I overnight from Cobourg Island to Queen Aba Harbour on eastern tip of Devon Island. The wind was light but sufficient to sail until sometime after midnight – the wind dropped off and we had to make use of engine power. Jones Sound was free of sea ice but there were many icebergs to be aware of as we sailed. Icebergs are not sea ice, but the progeny of glaciers that reach into the sea. The icebergs we sailed by may have been locally generated, as there are many glaciers that dip their toes into the ocean

Martin at the wheel © Students on Ice / WWF-Canon

on southern Ellesmere Island and Devon Island, or they may have originated in  northwestern Greenland.

When sailing overnight we take 2 hour shifts on watch with the Captain or one of the mates. We assist by watching for ice, checking the navigation equipment, and steering the sailboat.  As we work, each of us takes in the extraordinary beauty of the sea and adjacent islands. The sunset last night but just dipped a bit below the horizon, which meant we did not experience darkness,  just a lower level of light. 24 hour daylight! Its presence permits us to continue exploring the most easterly part of the Last Ice Area around the clock.

The Tern in Queen Aba Harbour. © Students on Ice / WWF-Canon

Sea birds keep us company as we sail: thick-billed murres, black guillemots, glaucous gulls, and the most plentiful, northern fulmar. The fulmars appear to enjoy our company too, as they fly close by the sailboat: coming alongside, zooming past the bow and stern. We keep an eye out for the rare Ivory Gull as we travel. Our marine mammal observations have been sparse, with a single walrus checking us out at lunch while we were anchored in Queen Aba Harbour, and ringed seals popping up as we sail. We just began our 2nd overnight sail, heading to Lancaster Sound. Our route will follow the southern shore of Devon Island on our way to Arctic Bay. The upcoming waters are known for their rich biodiversity and we anticipate observing whales, walrus, seals, polar bears, and many more seabirds.

« Overnight sailing, Arctic style | Crossing Lancaster Sound »

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