Hudson Bay Expedition – Into the Sea


This whole thing feels like it’s held together with baling wire and wishing thinking. But has it ever been otherwise? After all the running around, stringing wires and stowing cases, it comes down to this: will the boat float and can I make her go.

I mention to my friend Chesley that it seems as good a time as any to put her in the water. He nods and heads off to find an air pump for the trailer’s soft tires, a jack to lift her up and his brother Norman, for moral support while dealing with such a knucklehead.

We back up his old pickup, hook up the trailer and set off with no more commotion than me trotting along behind with video camera in hand. I smell something burning, and watch with alarm one of the ancient trailer’s axle bearings begins to smoke and the wheel bearing grinds ominously.

Chesley drives on unperturbed. “It’s nothing but a piece of junk anyway.” We somehow get to the ramp, flip the trailer around and back the boat down the gravel ramp into the water. I hop aboard, fire up the engines and back her in.

Looks like she floats after all. I head right for the dock and try to tie up, but soon find myself with one foot on the dock, one on the boat and find my legs spreading in a classic pratfall pose. I only narrowly avoid a cartoon punchline fate, swallow my pride and try again.

From there it’s more running around town. Fresh groceries, check.  Replacement battery, got it. One hundred gallons of gasoline, done. Inflate the zodiac, finished. Check satellite phone…damn.

I can’t get the f***ing phone to work. Without it, I’m screwed. Without it, I have no easy way to get weather, check in with home, or call for help if it all goes wrong. Flustered and gut-punched, I spend a night and most of the next day on the laptop and phone with technical support half a world away trying to sort out the problem. But eventually, after three hours of Frank Sinatra hold music, two firmware updates and a secret decoder ring programming code entry, and only after I have a replacement shipped in at no small expense from home and another from Yellowknife, it springs mysteriously back to life.

I’m ready to go, but now the weather has other plans. A cold east wind bas been building, coming off 400 miles of open water across the Hudson Bay. It fills the inlet with whitecaps and an ugly, uncomfortable swell. Until that settles, I’m not going anywhere.



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