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Two Teams Still Navigating The Northwest Passage

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Yesterday I posted an update on the Last First expedition in which it was revealed that the team was pulling the plug on their attempt to row the Northwest Passage this summer. The four-man crew is en route to Cambridge Bay, which is a long way from their intended stopping point at Pond Inlet. Poor weather and an inefficient boat design resulted in slower than expected progress conspired against them to keep them from reaching their goal and within a few days, they should be off the water altogether. But it turns out that the Last First team isn't the only one paddling through the Passage this summer and while their journey may be coming to an end, there are two other teams who are pressing forward with their adventures even as the summer starts to wane.

First up, we have the team of Cam Webb and Matt McFadyen who have dubbed their journey the Beyond The Circle expedition. The two men set out in July from Inuvik in a small 17.5-foot (5.3 meter) rowboat that also happens to be equipped with a sail. This gives them the ability to harness the power of the wind when the can, allowing them to make better time in the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean. It hasn't exactly been a pleasure cruise for Cam and Matt so far but they seem to be enjoying their time out on the water and are making solid distances most days. They still have about half of their 2000-mile (3218 km) voyage to go, but they seem determined to see it through to the end. Watch for regular updates to their blog with more news and information on their progress.

The other Northwest Passage crossing attempt is by the Reve de Glace ("Ice Dreams") team, who are attempting to navigate the entire journey in a tandem sea kayak. If successful, they'll be the first to accomplish that feat in a single season. They set off from the village of Tuktoyaktuk in northern Canada and are paddling some 3500 km (2175 miles) to reach the tiny hamlet of Igloolik, which falls on one of the many waterways which gives entry into the Passage itself. The two men on this NW Passage attempt include S├ębastien Lapierre and Olivier Giasson who hope to complete their journey in just 80 days. Find out more on their website, which is French but can be easily translated to get updates.

What is interesting is that all three of the teams, Last First, Beyond The Circle and Reve de Glace, are all roughly within the same area at the moment. The difference is that the Last First team is ready to go home, while the others will continue ahead. Hopefully the two teams that will continue on will stay safe and reach their destination as intended.

Many thanks to reader Steve Price for sharing these expeditions with me.

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