2015 Hudson Bay Expedition – Escape from Whale Point



I guess it’s time to go. The gales have finally dropped off. Now there’s only the odd rattling gust to remind me of what has transpired. Still, I’m hesitant. It’s been a long five days. Or has it been six? You start to lose count after so much time trapped in one terrible place. Prison is probably like that. Though you probably don’t worry so much about drowning there.
Like prison, escape from my anchorage at Whale Point doesn’t come easy. I motored out and as soon as I cleared land two-meter swells and a wind-roiled chop slammed the boat. It’s 30 miles until I reach another sheltered cove, and I’m not about to fight these seas in my little boat. When I lurched off one wave and buried the bow deep into green water, It turned tail. That old prison cell didn’t look so bad after all.
I wait a few hours, puttering around the boat and eventually make myself a dismal lunch of canned soup. I shouldn’t complain. It’s fast and it’s hot and at the end of it you think you’ll never want to eat again. I just wish it didn’t smell like dog food coming out of the can.
Feeling a little abashed at not exploring my surroundings during the extended layover, I rowed my dinghy to shore and tried to remember what it was like when I was an actual photographer. Somehow arctic terns nest on these exposed islands, feeding on the plentiful small fish here, before heading off 10,000 miles to do it all over again in the Antarctic. I wonder if it’s like driving I-90 cross-country to them. Leave Seattle, travel like hell for days and days, arrive in Boston and think…nice place, good seafood, crap weather.
I’ve had long experience in the perils of approaching terns too closely. They vigorously defend their nesting sites, and will shower abuse and well-aimed squirts of bird shit on any intruder. For the moment they’re too busy squabbling over each other’s small fish to give me much mind. I maintain a respectful distance all the same, if only to avoid changing clothes, and cheerfully blast away with my long telephoto, trying to get my reflexes back.
Hiking to the highest point around, I peer down into the unprotected sea and…it doesn’t look bad. No whitecaps. No sea monsters either, near as I can tell. I guess it really is time to go. For real, this time.
I motor out onto a different ocean. There’s just the gentle slap of small waves on the hull, with light winds and I’m soon making an easy five knots heading northeast. It’s not much faster than a brisk walk, but you’ve got to start somewhere. The skies clear toward evening, and as I pull into Kamarvik Harbour there’s a fat gibbous moon hanging the color of aged cheddar just over the horizon.
The forecast is for relative calm, but there are warnings of unusual ice concentrations to the north. I can only hope that ice means critters. And critters mean pictures. Finally.

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