We flew what is likely to be our longest leg today - 644 Nautical miles, over Hudson Bay. My expectations of what it would look like were off - there is little to no ice and snow, and the water, in some parts was as turquoise as the Mediterranean. Spotting the whales was a huge highlight for me, I can add one more species to my list of "whales I have seen in the wild". They join the Orcas we paddled with off Victoria, the Humpbacks in Alaska, and the gray whale I kayaked with in Sooke Basin some years back. The belugas are, of course, easier to see given their bright white bodies in the calm Hudson Bay waters we were fortunate enough to have today. Paddling with whales is extraordinary, but viewing them from the plane has it's advantages, particularly being able to see them as they are underwater and watch their antics as a whole group. It was amazing.
We flew in the immersion suites today, and had been concerned that they might be difficult due to their bulkiness and warmth. Quite the opposite, we were very comfortable and neither of us found them overly awkward. Goofy looking, but not awkward. We had reviewed our plan should we have a mechanical failure and need to ditch. Our third passenger is a six person life raft, with the pull cord latched to the seat belt. Upon release, it automatically inflates, and there is a soft release cord in case the plane were to go under. The stats would be in our favor - 85% survive ditching a small plane. However, of that, only 50% survive the time in the water. We can't mitigate the first number, but we can do a lot to ensure that were we to have to ditch, we'd be in that second 50%. However, it is our intention to never have to test our preparations, and to have a well planned trip where we ensure our safety by being patient and flying when the weather is inviting.
The weather was on our side all day today, and our luck continues. We are prepared to be grounded somewhere due to poor weather - we know it is likely to happen at some point, but, knock on wood, we've not run into anything worse than a bit of rain. This just saves me from having to scrub off all the dead bugs after our flight, so I'm personally quite grateful for it. We were flying at 5000 or 6000 feet most of the day, and the temperature at that level was between 8 and 11 degrees C, so icing was not an issue.
We're excited to explore Iqaluit. It's much larger than the last few towns we have been to, and has approximately 6500 inhabitants. It has the feel of a space station, the buildings are cube shaped and industrial looking. It seems everyone we meet are either contract tradesmen or surveyors. The hotel people are all bemoaning the loss of the explorer dollar - it seems that mineral exploration has dropped off due to the recession and had once been a major source of tourism. It seems there is a certain type of person drawn to the North, and everyone we have met love it up here. There are lots of Newfies, and I'm surprised by how hard it is for me to understand their accent. Lovely people though, so friendly and helpful. One Newfoundlander we met at the pub in Rankin inlet last night, in wishing us a great flight, added that he hoped, if we came to Newfoundland someday, that he'd be on the Taramc to great us. I couldn't tell if it was a comment about hosting us, or whether he just longed for his homeland.
It's time to eat. We had a meal before leaving Ranking Inlet, but it's eight hours later and the trail mix isn't staving off hunger any more. We want to get a little jog in, and view the town as we run. Tomorrow, weather permitting, Greenland!