The ice was with us all day and will be for some days to come.

In the early morning, we had a good view of King Leopold Island, a bird sanctuary that is home to 200,000 breeding pairs. Though we were not able to approach the island too closely, we enjoyed observing the birds feeding along the coast of Somerset Island during a morning Zodiac cruise.

We explored the area around Port Leopold, a location with Thule houses and the remnants of a short-lived Hudson’s Bay Company station. Fast ice and two polar bears prevented us from landing, but we admired the cliffs, sea ice, and groups of guillemots from our small boats. The polar bears were quite far away, but some of us managed to spot them amongst the seals.

We enjoyed an afternoon on board. We learned about the conservation of Lancaster Sound from Kevin Rattue. Many of us spent hours going out on deck to admire the ice and sky before coming in for a little while to warm up.

Staff and crew are always looking out for wildlife from the bridge. Late in the afternoon, we were rewarded with a mother polar bear and one cub. They rested on the ice together until the cub climbed over its mother’s back, rolled around on the snow, curled back up against mum, and generally charmed us all.

The ice is getting thicker now as we approach Bellot Strait, which we hope to transit tomorrow. We know there will be challenging navigation ahead as we attempt an early transit of the Northwest Passage. Anticipation is high.