Long thought a fable, the Arctic route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans had its final link identified by the great Orcadian Arctic explorer Dr John Rae. Half a century later, Roald Amundsen made the journey in a fishing vessel, although only after several years of voyaging and overwintering. Now, with ice melt starting to open parts of the way, a new challenge is developing – to try to row it, and a team of highly experienced ocean rowers and adventurers will make the attempt next year. Their aim: to explore at first hand the conditions amidst melting icebergs, and to use satellite communication links to show the world what’s happening with the Arctic climate.
Among the North West Passage team are David Flett from Kirkwall, whose distance rowing began ten years ago with a journey from Shetland to Faroe, and Claire Hughes who in 2018 was one of the team who set a new world record for rowing the Atlantic. They join us to describe the preparations, including their row this summer from Newcastle to Kirkwall, the old sea route for men to come to join the Hudson’s Bay Company’s ships in Stromness.