Sable Island Expedition – August 5, 2009

More fog!  Our spirits dipped to an all time low when the morning report from the pilot was a ‘no go’ for this morning.  It did not look good for the afternoon either but we were still on stand-by. Now it felt like we were just killing time and it was then that it really hit me that this I may not make it to Sable.  The others were thinking the same thing and we began to discuss alternative plans, none of which seemed satisfactory.  A group of artists was booked to be on the island the following week, then a survey crew that had been on hold for two weeks.

The list went on, and the Coast Guard was running low on food supplies.  Around 11am I received a call from the airline that ‘perhaps’ there would be a small window of good weather around 1am.  That was cutting it close for departure by 2pm, the cut-off time for Gerry to be allowed to receive us.  We packed all our gear, took taxis to the Maritime hangar and waited on edge in their small lounge.  They checked the weather images every 5 minutes to look for a trend.  Because there was no control tower, they needed a minimum of 1000 foot ceiling and 3 miles visibility.  At the moment it was at 600 feet and rising.  By 1:30pm it was at 700 feet and rising and it was looking promising.  the anticipation was palpable and I paced the lounge anxiously.  We weighed all the gear and loaded it on the plane.  2pm and it was at 800 feet and 2 miles visibility.  The trend looked good so we were okayed to go!  We headed out to the plane and received our safety drill from the pilot and took our seats.  The engines were revving and just as we started to move towards the runway, a call came in from Sable.  It was Gerry, the window had closed up, the fog was back and there was no way to land.

Maritime Air

Maritime Air

Dejectedly, we pulled our bags off the plane and trudged back to the hangar. Ironically, one hour later the weather cleared at Sable for three hours, plenty of time to have landed. But, Gerry’s hands were tied by government policy and we could not get in ‘after hours’. I must say that I admired everyone in my group for keeping their cool. It was incredibly frustrating for all of us, not to mention the amount of money being wasted on cab fare for false alarms like this one. I tried to tell myself that this would all unfold in a positive way eventually. Something fortuitous would happen, I just needed to stay focused.

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