July 6, 2013
The Arctic Joule Races Towards the Beaufort Sea
I first met Kevin Vallely in a rather unusual location for both of us. The British Ambassador's residence in Oslo! We were both holding a small glass of red wine, and started talking about Arctic sea ice. We agreed it was disappearing quickly, and Kevin assured me that he "wasn't crazy enough to try and walk to the North Pole" this year. He did however explain to me a bit more about his plan to row through the Northwest Passage, which he had earlier explained to the delegates attending the Economist Arctic Summit. He assured me that he and three companions would attempt to row through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago in "the last world first!". They were planning to start on July 1st 2013, rowing in teams of two for 24 hours a day, for about 75 days.
Slightly later than planned back in March, that no doubt arduous and dangerous journey has now started. You can follow the progress of Kevin and his companions on the expedition web site and/or on their Facebook page. Here's how their first day on the water has progressed so far:
Note that currently they are racing at a considerable rate of knots down one branch of the Mackenzie River delta, and have reached the big bend where it turns Northeast for the first time. At this rate it looks as though they'll be in the Beaufort Sea before their first day is over.
The main sponsor of the expedition is Mainstream Renewable Power. As you can see from this video of the team in training, their watercraft (christened the Arctic Joule) is duly plastered in solar panels which charge up their batteries during the (very long!) Arctic day:
According to their initial press release:
Four modern-day explorers from Vancouver will attempt a world first by rowing the 3,000 km Northwest Passage in a specially commissioned boat by human power alone in a single season..a feat only possible now due to the melting ice in the Arctic. Global wind and solar company Mainstream Renewable Power is sponsoring the expedition to bring awareness to the profound effects climate change is having on the environment.
Here at econnexus.org we'll be following their progress with much interest over the next three months, looking at how they're getting along with the raising of awareness as well as with the rowing. We'll also be taking a good look at the state of the ice they will be navigating amongst. In the meantime here's a map showing the Arctic Joule's position in real time:
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