Over the weekend the Row to the Pole expedition officially got underway when the six-man crew, led by polar explorer and ocean rower Jock Wishart, set off from Resolute Bay in Canada. The team will now spend an estimated six weeks out on the Arctic Ocean, as they attempt to complete the first journey to the Magnetic North Pole by rowboat.
Wishart is joined on this journey by veteran sailors and explorers that include Mark Delstanche, Billy Gammon, Rob Sleep, David Mans, and Mark Beaumont. The team will row in three-hour shifts with the hopes of covering the 450-mile distance in as short of time possible.
According to the dispatches on the expedition website, everything is going better than expected at the moment. The weather has been great for their launch, and the winds have remained low, with temperatures in the 55ºF/13ºC region. That isn’t likely to last however, as even in the summer, the weather can be unpredictable in the Arctic. Their latest dispatch reports that they have successfully crossed the Wellington Channel, a leg that they had predicted would be more challenging than it actually turned out to be.
Their first two days on the water have been mostly trouble free, with just a few chunks of floating ice to avoid. The crew has taken that opportunity to get use to their vessel however, and they now feel like they’ve learned the “personality” of the boat, which will serve them well moving into the more challenging sections of the row.
Not to be confused with the Geographic North Pole, which is located at 90ºN, the Magnetic North Pole is the spot in the Northern Hemisphere that our compasses point to. The location of Magnetic North continues to shift over time and, according to the Row to the Pole website, is currently located at 78°35.7N 104°11.9W.
Of course, a journey such as this one is made a bit more manageable thanks to climate change, which has reduced the size of the pack ice and made the Northwest Passage more navigable, particularly in the summer months. Still, this will be a difficult journey for the crew the further they head north, and ice is likely to still be an issue the closer they get to their goal.
I’ll post updated on their progress in the days ahead. Good luck to the team!
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