Rowing The Northwest Passage: Last First Team Struggle To Make Progress

Paul in ice small

It has been a few weeks since we checked in with the Last First crew. You may recall, they’re the group of four rowers (Kevin Vallely, Paul Gleeson, Frank Wolf and Denis Barnett) who are attempting to cross through the Northwest Passage this summer. They set out from Inuvik in Canada a few weeks back and are now hoping to row more than 3000 km (1865 miles) through freezing waters choked with ice bergs and other obstacles to reach Pond Inlet. If successful, they’ll be the first to row this route in a single season.

So far it has been anything but easy for the crew. Despite the fact that it is summer, the only time of the year that the Northwest Passage is open at all, the weather conditions have been poor with high winds making it difficult to make substantial progress. In fact, some of the days have been so rough that the team has manned the oars for hours just so they don’t lose any ground. Throw in the constant threat of icebergs, which could trap their boat or even break its hull, and you begin to understand just how difficult this undertaking has been.

With the wind at their backs, the boys can make excellent time however, as evidenced just a few days ago. While rowing near Franklin Bay they managed to cover 120 km (74.5 miles) in a 24 hour period. That was more than double what they had done on their best day previously. They paid for it yesterday however when headwinds and shifting ice kept them pinned down for most of the day, seeking refuge from the weather as best they could. After scrambling for most of the day just to avoid being dashed against the shoreline, the crew learned that it is best if they wait out the poor weather rather than expending a lot of energy to go nowhere. How well that plan will work remains to be seen as they still have the bulk of their journey ahead of them and the summer is passing quickly.

You can follow their progress on the expedition’s official website and Facebook page as it unfolds in the weeks ahead.

Kraig Becker

1 thought on “Rowing The Northwest Passage: Last First Team Struggle To Make Progress”

  1. What I see are 4 lads enjoying an expenses paid summer vacation thanks to their Ireland corporate sponsor MRP.(Canadians said No Thanks to their scam.) They are undoubtedly way short on marine horse-sense but could this grandstanding just be a ploy to add drama to attract Big-Media coverage to attract readers for ad numbers? I think so… remember the ice had melted according to lead-oarsman Kevin Vallely and that was why they could row the Arctic – the had melted, he said. Guess hundreds of millions of square miles didn't get the press release nor did the extreme weather which is blowing the summer melt-ice around and blocking their rowboat. The drama will continue… even up to the point when they call the Coast Guard to rescue them… just wait until they are presented with a $200,000 bill for a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker and helicopter to rescue them… not the JOULETITANIC, will Mainstream Renewable Power step up and write that check? Stay tuned… there is going to be a lot more to this story about a ship of fools… who is going to have the last laugh? I bet it will be a real tear jerker! lol Expect Kevin to say something profound like "We had to give the Arctic back to the Polar Bears because we could not row against the extreme 20 kts winds blowing the last Arctic sea ice into our navigable waters that blocked our rowboat from reaching Pond Inlet".

    Stand by…

Comments are closed.