After rounding the Northwest corner of Banks Island we wanted to rest and celebrate. We checked the map and found a shallow bay close by surrounded by a horseshoe of low lying land called Cora Harbour. We entered the bay and were happy to be greeted by a calm, quiet and desolate setting to kick back and relax in. Perfect for us to celebrate our achievement with pancakes and a full nine hour sleep!
When we woke up the following day we dropped the dinghy into the water and went to explore a half sunk schooner we had passed on our way in – Cora we were to learn. On land we first came across piles of antlers scattered about, old rusty traps and then a destroyed cabin with its contents scattered where they fell. Old cutlery, bronze pieces, tools, glass bottles, hunting and trapping gear lay all about. An old iron plate lying imbedded in the soil had `Surveyor Camp` stamped onto it. The contents we found ranged from the turn of the 19th century to mid 20th.
Soon after we lifted anchor and prepared to head out into the Beaufort Sea. We decided we wanted to be in the ice some more and wanted to spend some time at sea so opted for a Northern Route to Alaska that would take us through the Northern pack ice drifting from the polar ice cap. Fresh winds filled our sails and that night for the first time in months we saw the moon – a full moon. Early in the morning dawn we passed a piece of ice and roaming on it was a Polar Bear his lonely silhouette marked against the seas dark backdrop.
For the next two days we entered ice fields and navigated through them. At nights this came increasingly dangerous with our sails up and low visibility, we were realizing it was time to leave the ice and head for open waters. As a salutation to the ice we found a solid pack and tied Belzebub up to a large piece of ice using ice screws. We were jumping around the pieces of pack and taking photos when all of sudden about fifty meters away from us a big white body appeared from behind a hummock on its hind legs – a Polar Bear was checking us out. We ran around excited for a moment but when the polar bear fell over on to its back and began to roll around and swat at the air playfully we knew all was well and we watched him with great amusement.
The ice soon began to close around the boat and the weather report of solid Easterly winds for the next week that would fill our sails all the way to Nome Alaska 1200 nautical miles away was our sign that it was time to move on away from ice and on to the open seas.
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