It’s been a mystery for over 150 years now. A grizzly discovery on the beaches of King William Island, a large row boat from the doomed Franklin expedition laying abandoned, dead men in their tracks strewn about the boat all clearly in the process of dragging her somewhere. One of the dead men sat at the head of the boat, a gun in each hand, the frozen protector, 25lbs of chocolate stacked at his feet.

franklin image

Our storm didn’t relent today, it strengthened. Thirty knot easterlies shifted to 35KN north-easterlies and made a gale out of a bluster. The winds are too high to row but Tuktoyaktuk is tantalizingly close, just 7.5 km away, and the roofs of its homes are peering at us over the horizon. We decide to push out and by push out I mean exactly that.

Our detailed navigation maps and our GPS indicate that a potential route to Tuktoyaktuk exists running through semi-protected channels on the lee side of a series of sand beaches to the north east. Our hope is to push and row our boat through these channels and sneak into Tuk from the back door.

After five hours of hauling, lining and rowing we reach a dead end. The channel is blocked with driftwood and is impassable. We retreat.

Man-hauling a 2500 lb row boat is a sight to be seen. At times it’s fluid and even graceful but mostly it’s an unwieldy chore of grunting, dragging and pushing, waist deep in frigid water all the time trying to tame a ton of fiberglass that wants to go where a 35 knot wind tells her too.

I gained a strange insight into what might of played out on the beaches of King William Island over a century and a half ago. Here we are hauling our over-sized row boat, loaded to the gunnels with gear and chocolate (50lbs in fact)…and two shot guns. Desperation is what happened.

We’re at a new moorage point tonight 930 meters further ahead than yesterday. We’re moving forward.