First thing I did was phone the weather office. The
report was not good. A low pressure system was causing me some grief. The forecaster at the international weather office at North Bay gave me the following good news!!!
Iqaluit: winds 090 degrees True at 14 gusting to 20
knots, visibility 30 statute miles, clouds broken at 3500 ft and overcast at 8700ft.
The upper winds at Iqualuit: at 3000 ft, 080 degrees
at 25 knots; at 6000 ft, 090 degrees at 26 knots and temperature 1 degree C.
Pangnirtung – which is half way to Broughton Island:
winds 100 degrees True average, but swinging between 50 and 120 degrees True at 17 gusting to 25 knots, visibility 15 statute miles, some light rain showers, clouds few at 3500 ft, broken at 6000 ft, overcast at
7000 ft. Love that wind stuff! Pangnirtung airfield is in a very deep fjord, so the turbulence level can be severe when the wind is across and strong. Apparently it is always very windy there.
At Broughton Island: winds 360 degrees True at 04
knots, 8 miles visibility, clouds scattered at 400 ft, overcast at 1500 ft.
The winds at Cape Dyer, about 100 km to the east of
Pangnirtung were gusting up to 50 knots!
Our heading was to be about 45 degrees True, which
meant that we would have a headwind all the way. Olivier and I chatted about the weather and the wind and decided that we should at least try to get to Pangnirtung. Maybe if we stayed low level we would get through.
So, with lots of onlookers we rigged our trikes and
packed and got into our warm gear. We had ample fuel with us, so a slight headwind wouldn't worry us too much, and besides, we had found that sometimes the winds were not as strong as predicted.
After saying our goodbyes to all our new friends,
Sandy, Cam, Adamee, Franco and wives and children we squeezed into the trikes and headed off. Climbing to 1500 ft we found that our groundspeed was 40 knots, which meant a 4 hour flight to Pangnirtung which was
quite acceptable, but that didn't last long.
Olivier called me on the radio to say that his speed
was right down. I didn't answer, I was determined to keep going, my speed was still OK, although the GPS now indicated a time to Pangnirtung of 5 hours.
After 30 minutes of flying we had virtually stopped
moving forward – my airspeed was now steady at 20 knots and the time to Pangnirtung was 8 hours. It had to be just a gust. On the small lakes below there were white waves forming and the gusts of wind were visible
on the surface of the water as they made large windswept marks. For a few seconds my time for the flight went up to nine and a half hours. I called Olivier over the radio to say OK, I agree we should go back. We
turned and raced back.
No one was surprised to see us back. Adamee had
phoned a relative in Pangnirtung to ask him to put us up for the night, to be told that the scheduled flight had been cancelled because of severe winds and turbulence. He was about to call the tower to advise us to
turn back when we came racing overhead.
We managed to get our trikes into the First Air
hangar without having to take the wings off. Back home with Sandy (who was somehow delighted to have us back) for curry, some of Franco's self-made (really great) red wine and a video – The Shawshank Redemption.