Cowboys Lose a Member Early
On August 3, after a longer-than-expected wait in Ottawa, Arctic Cowboys West Hansen, Jeff Wueste, and Rebekah Feaster set out to attempt a world first. The trio would try and paddle the entire Northwest Passage in a single season.
The legendary Northwest Passage is an arctic sea route in Canada that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. For much of the year, it is chock-full of ice and impassable for human-powered boats. However, climate change is rapidly changing the region. Each year, the passage clears earlier and for longer. The Arctic Cowboys are hoping that this year the ice in the passage will clear for long enough to allow them to paddle through in their sea kayaks.
The early going was anything but smooth. By motorboat, they set out from the town of Pond Inlet on Baffin Island to their start point at Button Point. Aiming to cover more than 30 miles every day, they immediately fell behind their target, covering just under 14 miles on their first day.
With strong winds, extreme cold, and more challenging swells than they expected, Feaster found that she was unable to put in the energy necessary to make their daily targets. Sadly, she had to bow out with “intense sea sickness and anxiety.” From that point forward Hansen and Wueste would be on their own.
Since Feaster’s departure the pair have managed to put in consistently big days, that is, when they’ve been able to paddle. For four days they were forced to wait out strong winds and they have now been forced into an unscheduled stop in the small settlement at Arctic Bay to resupply. They plan to get back on the water on Friday.