Shipping, but no ship

We will be flying to Resolute Bay in about three weeks, but our gear should be there in a few days, flown in by First Air. I drove up to Montreal on Sunday with the gear we had purchased here to finish the shopping (food mostly), pack it, and get it all to First Air for shipping to The Polar Continental Shelf Program in Resolute.

There will be four of us in the field for two weeks, and we must have everything we will need with us for that time, plus extra in case bad weather delays the plane coming to pick us up. It is a five hour flight on a Twin Otter from Resolute to Cape Sheridan, so once we arrive there, there will be no chance of getting anything that we have forgotten. Tents, kitchen supplies and food made up most of this shipment. The food ranged from ten pounds of pasta to freeze dried meat and vegetables, and of course lots of chocolate, all packed into 12 crates and boxes. I forgot to bring a camera with me to Montreal, but did manage to snap a few pictures of packing in progress in my hotel room with my iPad – not the best camera, but it works in a pinch.

packing boxes in a hotel room. The top box is freeze dried meat.

A box of miscellaneous items

Realistically, our twelve boxes are nothing compared to supplies for the 15 month-long expeditions that Peary mounted. In his book The Secrets of Polar Travel he lists some of the provisions he purchased: 1000 pounds of coffee, 10,000 pounds of sugar, 7000 pounds of bacon…the list goes on. Like us, he had to bring absolutely everything his expedition would need, and then some in case of contingencies. His ship, the Roosevelt was heavily laden when it left New York bound for the Arctic. Donald MacMillan, one of Peary’s assistants commented in his book How Peary Reached the Pole that “an Arctic ship leaving home…is always frightfully loaded, even dangerously so.” The Roosevelt was no exception. He goes on to describe the flood of water that entered his cabin during a storm on their first night out from Sydney, Nova Scotia. They eventually traced it to water washed over the door sills because the scuppers, which should have channelled it over the side, were clogged by sacks of coal on the deck. Perhaps it was this incident that prompted MacMillan to climb the mast with his camera to snap this photograph.

View of the deck of the SS Roosevelt from the masthead as she sailed north in 1908

We don’t expect to have water washing over our supplies, although we are anxiously waiting for an email from Polar Shelf to let us know that they have arrived safely. And we are still making lists of things that we need to bring with us – more on that later.

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