Thanks to everyone who came out to the presentation last night at the Centennial Theatre. We had a full house. We were delighted. It really means a lot to us. We really enjoyed ourselves and hope you all did too!
Stay Tuned For All The Latest Expedition News & Events
We are doing a presentation at the Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver on Nov 26th (Tuesday) at 7.30pm. We’ll be sharing stories from our expedition in the Arctic as well as showing images and video footage of what we encountered. We’ll also have the boat on display, there’ll be some live music, a few pints as well as loads of raffle prizes from our sponsors so we’d love to see you there if you can make it. Please do spread the word, tickets can be bought via the Centennial website (link below).
Writing a story on us? We’d love to help you. We’re working on filling this section with press releases, images, HD video, background info and facts for your use. If you’d like to setup an interview, the rowers are available by satellite phone throughout their journey.
Video / B-Roll
The team will be uploading new b-roll footage throughout the expedition. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if you would like to be notified of new footage or if you have a b-roll request.
On July 1st, 2013 four modern-day explorers hope to become the first people to traverse the Northwest Passage solely under human power in a single season – one of the Earth’s last great firsts.
It wasn’t long ago that the Northwest Passage was sole domain of steel-hulled ice-breakers. We hope by making this traverse completely under human power in a row boat, without sail or motor, in a single season we will be able to demonstrate first-hand the profound affects climate change is having on our world.
An adventure with meaning
There’s such a rich history to the story of the Northwest Passage rooted in iconic geographical names such as Baffin, Franklin, Ross and Hudson all inextricably linked with the quest for the Passage. Mix into this the reality of climate change and the profound affects it’s having on the wildlife, culture and future of the arctic region and the pressing reality of arctic sovereignty and it becomes clear that we have a deeply important story here. And all this conveyed through a truly epic adventure, played out in one of the most incredible landscapes on earth – the Northwest Passage. The expedition begins July 1st, 2013.
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A word from our title sponsor
A word from our title sponsor Eddie O’Connor, the CEO and co-founder of Mainstream Renewable Power and a champion in the battle against climate change. Mainstream Renewable Power is a global leader in the renewable energy sector and proves through their operation that energy resources can be secured in a clean and economically effective manner.
The Northwest Passage
On July 1st, 2013 we will embark on a traverse across the Northwest Passage, a route through the various islands of the Canadian archipelago that represented the crux to the mariners of yore attempting to navigate a sea route across the top of the world. Our route takes us from Inuvik, NWT through Tuktoyaktuk, NWT to Pond Inlet, Nunavut. We’re very specific on these two locations as, in our mind, they represent the start and finishing points of the ice maze that confounded mariners looking for a northern sea route from Europe to the Orient.
The explorers of past would round the southern tip of Greenland and head north looking for an entry west. Henry Hudson thought it was at the southern end of Baffin Island. He was wrong and stumbled upon the enormous inland sea that would later bear his name. Others would find countless dead-ends until finally the mouth of Lancaster Sound was revealed as the entry to the Passage.
When Roald Amundsen made the first successful crossing of the Northwest Passage from East to West in 1903-06 he finished by anchoring near Herschel Island at the mouth of the Mackenzie River (a short distance from Inuvik, NWT today) and skied 800 kilometres to the city of Eagle, Alaska, to send a telegram announcing his success at making it through the Northwest Passage.
Our route takes us through 3000kms of the infamous ice strewn Northwest Passage. We hope to make this traverse solely under human power in a row boat, without sail or motor, in a single season all to bring awareness to the profound changes climate change is having on the arctic.
In recent years there have been several notable expeditions that have traversed the Northwest Passage over several seasons. We’ve taken great inspiration from them.
As a result of their westward explorations and their settlement of Greenland, the Vikings sailed as far north and west as Ellesmere Island, Skraeling Island and Ruin Island for hunting expeditions and trading with Inuit groups. The subsequent arrival of the Little Ice Age is thought to have been one of the reasons that further European seafaring into the Northwest Passage ceased until the late 15th century.
Cook and Vancouver
In 1776 Captain James Cook was dispatched by the Admiralty in Great Britain under orders driven by a 1745 act which, when extended in 1775, promised a £20,000 prize for whoever discovered the passage. Initially the Admiralty had wanted Charles Clerke to lead the expedition, with Cook (in retirement following his exploits in the Pacific) acting as a consultant. However Cook had researched Bering’s expeditions, and the Admiralty ultimately placed their faith in the veteran explorer to lead with Clerke accompanying him.
In the first half of the 19th century, some parts of the actual Northwest Passage (north of the Bering Strait) were explored separately by many expeditions, including those by John Ross, William Edward Parry, and James Clark Ross; overland expeditions were also led by John Franklin, George Back, Peter Warren Dease, Thomas Simpson, and John Rae. In 1826 Frederick William Beechey explored the north coast of Alaska, discovering Point Barrow.
Sir Robert McClure was credited with the discovery of the real Northwest Passage in 1851 when he looked across McClure Strait from Banks Island and viewed Melville Island. However, this strait was not navigable to ships at that time, and the only usable route linking the entrances of Lancaster Sound and Dolphin and Union Strait was discovered by John Rae in 1854.
In 1845 a lavishly equipped two-ship expedition led by Sir John Franklin sailed to the Canadian Arctic to chart the last unknown swaths of the Northwest Passage. Confidence was high, given there was less than 500 km (310 mi) of unexplored Arctic mainland coast by then.
During the search for Franklin, Commander Robert McClure and his crew in HMS Investigator traversed the Northwest Passage from west to east in the years 1850 to 1854, partly by ship and partly by sledge. McClure started out from England in December 1849, sailed the Atlantic Ocean south to Cape Horn and entered the Pacific Ocean. He sailed the Pacific north and passed through the Bering Strait, turning east at that point and reaching Banks Island.
The expeditions by Franklin and McClure were in the tradition of British exploration: well-funded ship-borne expeditions using modern technology, and usually including British Naval personnel. By contrast, John Rae was an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which was the major driving force behind exploration of the Canadian North. They adopted a pragmatic approach and tended to be land-based. While Franklin and McClure attempted to explore the passage by sea, Rae explored by land, using dog sleds and employing techniques he learned from the native Inuit. The Franklin and McClure expeditions each employed hundreds of personnel and multiple ships. John Rae’s expeditions included fewer than ten people and succeeded. Rae was also the explorer with the best safety record, having lost only one man in years of traversing Arctic lands. In 1854, Rae returned with information about the outcome of the ill-fated Franklin expedition.
The first explorer to conquer the Northwest Passage was the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. In a three-year journey between 1903 and 1906, Amundsen explored the passage with a crew of no more than six. Amundsen, who had sailed just in time to escape creditors seeking to stop the expedition, completed the voyage in the converted 47-ton herring boat Gjøa.
In 2003 Kevin Vallely was named one of Canada’s leading adventurers by the Globe and Mail. His adventuring resume is stacked with compelling expeditions to all parts of the world including skiing Alaska’s 1,860 km Iditarod Trail; scampering over Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail in record time, attempting to bike and climb the island of Java’s 13 -10,000-foot volcanoes (a trip cut short when post-9/11 Indonesia became too dangerous); competing on the only Canadian team to finish the last and most difficult Eco-Challenge adventure race held in Fiji in 2002; retracing a 2,000 km Klondike-era ice-bike route through the dead of an Alaskan winter, and most recently, with teammates Ray Zahab and Richard Weber, breaking the world record for the fastest unsupported trek from Hercules Inlet to the geographic South Pole.
Kevin graduated from the McGill University School of Architecture in 1988 where he was awarded the Royal architectural Institute of Canada medal as top graduating student. He’s a recipient of a Commonwealth Scholarship to Cambridge University. He works as a designer focusing on single-family residential projects. Visit www.kevinvallely.com
Paul comes from Limerick in Ireland and has lived in Vancouver since 2008. Growing up, sport was always a huge part of his life with rugby being his main passion for many years. In 2003 Paul cycled across Australia from Perth to Sydney. This 5,000km cycle which took 60 days to complete, might have been a bit quicker if it wasn’t for getting knocked down not once but twice by cars – luck of the Irish, don’t think so!
Paul’s next expedition took him from land to ocean. On November 30, 2005 Paul rowed out of a small marina in the Canary Islands and after enduring the tail end of a hurricane and 2 tropical storms that dished up some of the worst weather ever recorded for that time of year, Paul arrived into the Caribbean Island of Antigua to complete an 85 day rowing voyage. Paul and his rowing partner Tori wrote a book about their Atlantic exploits which was published in Ireland in November 2006 and in Canada in 2009 – the book is entitled “Crossing the Swell”.
When on dry land, Paul is a self employed personal advisor. Visit www.paulgleeson.com
Frank is an award-winning Canadian filmmaker and writer specializing in adventure and environmental documentary film. As director and host he has covered stories from around the globe using a unique shooting style and humorous approach in order to make the often esoteric outdoor world appeal to a broad audience.
Frank’s exploration resume is packed with some amazing adventures that include retracing the Sandakan Death March in Borneo, cycling 2,200km along the frozen Yukon to the Northern Coast of Alaska retracing the Nome Gold Rush of 1900 and more recently completing a 2,400km journey by bicycle, foot, pack raft and sea kayak during a ground-level investigation of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project which would cross over 1,000 watercourses and bring oil supertanker traffic up the B.C. coast for the first time ever. Frank’s documentary of this last trip “On the line” has been featured in film festivals all over Canada. Frank will be making a documentary on the team’s North West Passage expedition. Visit www.frank-wolf.net
Denis also comes from Ireland, Dublin to be exact and was born to Frank and Valerie Barnett in late August 1980. His early years were spent playing Rugby and Sailing before his hunger for a little more excitement took hold. Rally driving was first up, followed by water skiing and sky diving and when time allowed a career in Financial Services. When considering rowing the Atlantic Ocean in 2006 Denis made enquiries with some Irish people who had completed the row. A move to Canada soon followed and the idea was put on “ice”.
His love of machines and curiosity of the ocean drew him to reinvent himself with a successful career in the Shipping Industry based in Vancouver. A chance meeting with Paul Gleeson in a bar in Vancouver occurred and they realised that Paul was the guy Denis had been pestering on the phone (but never actually met) the previous year in Ireland. When the idea of rowing the North West Passage came up a couple of years later the chance was never going to be passed up and the whole rowing on “ice” came full circle. He doesn’t believe in fate, but if he did…
Ocean rowing boats are specifically designed to deal with the harsh conditions that an unpredictable ocean swell can dish up. They need to be tough, fully self contained with the ability to self right in the event of a capsize. However our boat needs to be designed with slightly different considerations in mind. Ultimately we are not rowing an ocean but rather rowing through the very challenging North West Passage where stiff winds, choppy swell and obstructive ice conditions will play a huge part in our progress through the passage. Accordingly, our boat needs to be designed with these considerations in mind. Therefore our hull shape will differ from many traditional ocean rowing boats and the boat will need to be reinforced with Kevlar to potentially withstand encounters with ice.
Our boat (which will be 25ft in length) is complete. We were very fortunate to have Robin Thacker on board as our chief boat designer and builder. Robin brings not only a wealth of experience to our team but also an infectious passion that is going to result in a truly one of a kind boat which we know will be more than capable of withstanding the harsh elements of the Canadian Arctic. Capsize testing of the boat will take place in Nanaimo, BC during the second week of May, 2013.
Robin ThackerRobin’s adventure started when he was 4 years old and he decided to jump off the 2nd floor balcony with an umbrella as a parachute. It almost all ended when he spent 4 minutes in an underwater hydraulic after going over a waterfall on a canoe trip down Riviere Ouareau. He could have used the umbrella. Since then, he has always had a need for adventure. So, he got married and now has three wonderful daughters.
He wrote the software that the Canadian Civil Air Search and Rescue Association uses in searching for missing persons. He holds multi-national patents on guitar bodies and fibre reinforced ceramics. He has countless copyrights on things from snowboard chord calculation software to 1/16th scale flight simulator models. Currently, he designs the world’s finest kayaks for Atlantis Kayaks on Vancouver Island. When he’s not doing that, you will find him with his wife Karen filming and traveling this wonderful world of ours.
Without the help of our sponsors and team this journey would be impossible.
Mainstream Renewable Power is a company driven by a unique mission to lead the transition to a world where electricity is made from renewable sources. The world is undergoing a once-off transition to sustainability. Wind and solar will overtake coal, oil and other fossils as the world’s primary fuels for electricity generation. Mainstream was set up to lead and accelerate this transition.
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ISL Custom Brokers
DBCMarine Safety Systems
Captian Allen Domaas
Linda-Joy (LJ) Lee
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For all inquiries in regards to the The Mainstream Last First Expedition please contact Kevin, Paul, Frank or Denis. You can find all our personal contact details in the team section here.
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