Arctic Rowers Paul-in-ice-small


Some prayers might be in order for four young men who are attempting the Northwest Passage in a rowboat. They haven’t reported since yesterday.

Theirs is just the sort of stunt I would have pulled when young.  You are sitting around, contemplating how boring it would be to work a real job in the summer, and then someone comes up with the idea to make some sort of social statement, and avoid working a real job.  Usually such ideas never come to fruition, but some youth actually carry out the dream.

In the dream it is sunny, pleasantly cool,  and gulls wheel and cry in the arctic sky, as whales and seals cross blue waves dotted with a few, but not too many, icebergs.

In reality a particularly nasty summer storm has blown up and persisted for days, the sky and water are always grey, and the young men are running into bad sea ice.  While the storm is finally weakening, the temperatures remain around freezing.

Arctic Rowerer Storm mslp_latest.bigArctic Rower temp_latest.big

The young men have no engine, and must depend on their sheer strength and stamina at the oars to get themselves out of jams.  They recently lost their anchor.

I am praying this is merely one of those tests young men get themselves into, that teaches them of strength within themselves that they did not know existed, and that they can look back on the experience in the future as, (in the words of a Navajo friend,)   “one of those things it is good to do only once in your life.”

LUNCHTIME UPDATE:  Apparently their sense of humor is OK.  They saw a formation of ice, and decided in was the “Hand of Franklin.”  (Franklin was an arctic explorer who vanished 150 years ago and has never been found.) Posted the picture on Twitter around noon.

It’s amazing people these days can be so in contact, even when actually far from help.

JULY 31 UPDATE: They still appear to be hunkered down on a small island that doesn’t appear on all maps, awaiting better weather conditions.

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Apparently they are aware of publicity, noting that the story of their voyage made the Vancouver Sun:

I’m not sure they are aware a more caustic view of their shenanigans is expressed by people who don’t exactly share their political views, over at Steve Goddard’s site:

I ventured the following comment over there:

“It looks like the gap in their GPS record covers a time period between 7:57 PM and 8:51 AM. Thirteen hours. There are also earlier gaps in the record.

I wonder if GPS is a gadget they need to activate, perhaps hitting a button to see where they are. If one member of the crew is really compulsive about their progress, and the rest less interested in the minute by minute details, you could get a watch on deck with a lot of reports followed by watches with few or none.

Their decision to hunker down and wait for more favorable conditions sounds a bit like learning from the school of hard knocks, to me. Or the school of hard bergs. Their battle with ice doesn’t sound like a picnic, and in some ways they are lucky to be alive. (They can’t be airlifted out if they are dead.)

More than 40 years ago, when I was young, liberal, and something of a “useful idiot,” it was the school of hard knocks that snapped me out of my delusions and woke me up. Not all useful idiots remain stuck in their naivete forever. Don’t lose faith in the young, even if they do seem like dopes.

AUGUST 1 UPDATE — They are OK, but it sounds like one called “Kevin” is homesick, posting about his daughters.  Daughters?  For some reason I thought these fellows were younger.  (He left a time capsule for his daughters to read in the future: 

Arctic Rowers August  1b

He is worried the arctic will be changed, when his daughters get up their to see his time capsule.  Actually he should be worried that his daughters will have changed before he gets back.  Kids grow up too fast, and every moment you spend with them is more valuable than you dream. Fortunately he likely can chat over the web.

He guesses the site is a “Dorset Site.”  The Doset culture lived in the warmth of the Medieval Warm Period, and was stressed out by the same Little Ice Age that stressed out the Vikings.  The Inuit were better adapted.

There are some sites of stone that are long and thin,  just about the right size to be roofed by a Viking ship dragged out of the water.  The round sites may be Dorset, but they also can be from the “Independence I Culture,” who were the first people to explore the arctic (that we know of) after the Ice Age.  It was much warmer, and the Arctic Ocean likely was ice-free, and higher due to more ice-melt of mountain glaciers and Greenland’s Ice cap. Geologists can see the wave-made beaches created by these higher seas, (which are quite different from the beaches made by grinding chunks of ice,) and in the sand and cobbles find bits of driftwood that come from trees all the way across the arctic ocean.  However there is far less driftwood than you would expect to find, and one reason there is much less driftwood is because the Independance I Culture apparently burned it for fuel, as well as building parts of their homes of it.  (Even though it was warmer, the winter nights were just as sunless.)  In any case, when they first arrived in the arctic the shores may well have been heaped with hundreds of years of driftwood, but they burned it all up over a couple hundred years.  Then it got colder and they likely headed south.

In any case, the not-so-young man “Kevin” ought not worry about the arctic changing.  It already has changed, and will change again.  If one must fret, there are better things to worry about.

UPDATE AUGUST 4—They got out of the last trouble, and made it to Paulatuk.  However they did not do the wise thing, which would be to be airlifted out, and instead headed back out again.  So of course people who care are worried again, and praying again.  I noted seven “hits” on this old post in the time since they left.  So I figured I should update and simply state I know no more than is shown on their GPS map, which can be seen at .  We shall have to wait to see why they chose the meandering route the GPS shows.  It is sheer speculation to say anything about sandbars or headwinds or ice floes.

I don’t think they should expect milder weather.  They may get lucky, but this has not been a benign summer, as arctic summers go.  It has been colder than normal, overall, and also the weather tends to get colder in August.  The midnight sun still is up, but too low, and people who have served in the military up there describe how water containers start freezing over in August, despite the endless daylight.

They are tough, but need to face facts at some point.  They are tough, but not as tough as tough luck can be up there.  I’m not talking about the tough luck of chosing a cold summer to try to make a political point about Global Warming, either.  At some point politics don’t matter, sponsors don’t matter,  all that matters is those you love and getting out alive.

In any case, I don’t think they were wise to head back out, but neither was I, when I was their age.  I wish them luck, though I don’t think they will prove much, in terms of politics, if they make progress.  What they are proving now is more in terms of mule-headed, male prowess.  May the Good Lord watch over them as He watched over me, 42 years ago, when I was young, over my head, and far out to sea.

AUGUST 6 PM UPDATE—I see 12 hits on this site today, so I guess I should post an update, although I am no authority.  Their GPS shows them making decent progress along the coast, hugging the coast (which seems wise.)  No Facebook posts. 

Below (if it works) is a map with how far they have come in red and how far they have to go in blue.

AUGUST 8 MORNING UPDATE—It looks like they are serious about making progress, but may have stopped for a breather. Last GPS position was at around 11:00 PM, after making some serious headway, rowing east southeast, hugging the coast.  They are on the south side of a high pressure, and back at Palatuk temperatures are in the 60’s with a light east 6 mph wind, which would be a wind they’d have to row against. The big arctic storm is on the other side of the high pressure and not effecting them at the moment.  

Temperatures should remain mild through the weekend.  They’d best get going while the going is good.

AUGUST 13—Decent progress, but not yet halfway.

The best information is from their own site at  When they are moving they seem too busy to post, but later a southerly gale forced them to pause gave them time to post some updates.



    • I like the DMI charts. I think Denmark, with its connection to Greenland, has interests in arctic areas, and a lot more to lose if they get their figures wrong for any reason.

      I have the sense it is a different summer up there, for some reason, especially with the air temperatures so steadily on the low side. However I’m still not sure it is anything more than a blip in the data. If the next thirty days don’t show a considerable melt of the ice, you can bet there is going to quite a ruckus on the web.

      What will it mean? It will mean we will go back to ice levels of 2005. Really not the end of the world, however the ruckus will be such that it will be wise to strap on our helmets.

      I will attempt to be a voice of calm and reason, however if you notice me getting swept up in all the hoopla and uproar, please say, “ahem.”

      I’m going to start looking for others attempting the Northwest Passage. Do you know of any?

      • Wow! I watch that DMI temp-above-80-degrees chart, but hadn’t noted that recent dip. This just adds to the sense I have that the arctic may be freezing up early.

        I’ll have to go through Goddard’s old posts more carefully. In the comments about the rowers was a comment about “the kayakers catching up to the rowers,” so I think there must be a bunch trying to cross the Northwest passage by kayak as well.

        Thanks for all your help and the good links you share with me.

  1. I don’t know of any other rowers. I think they are primarily on a a propaganda mission, at least as far as their backers. They stated: “We are rowing .. on a journey to highlight issues of climate change .. along a route that is only recently navigable because of the Arctic’s melting ice.” BS! So that’s there purpose, though I imagine they’re getting a good workout. The problem for skeptics is that the msm covered their departure, again, just like they did the melting North Pole swimming hole, as if their journey was proof of agw. I imagine they’re not going to make it, and they knew it all along, but the damage to skeptics has already been done in the media coverage, and few will even make even a short note of it when the rowers give up and get airlifted out. More here:

    I’m also trying to follow what happens to the arctic ice over the next month or whatever. Now, if there is a lot less melt than the warmists expect, you say there is going to be a ruckus and to put our helmets on. So, I assume you mean that skeptics will be making a lot of noise? And I’m not sure what the helmets would be for. Crossfire? … Correction from my last comment: their = they’re. Just wanted to get that on the record. But I probably to continue to make that mistake again, but oh well.

    • The young fools can’t get airlifted out if they kill themselves. They are in a fairly dangerous situation. Not that I wasn’t reckless myself, when young. I suppose I still am, (in a political sense,) but I don’t even drive very fast any more.

      I like Goddard’s site a lot, and visit it fairly often. He does an excellent job of pointing out the B.S. However he also gets my blood boiling towards Alarmists, and I’m not sure I’m at my best when I get mean. Not that there aren’t a few of the worst Alarmists who shouldn’t actually be in jail, but there are also a lot who are just misguided, like those young men up rowing in the arctic.

      Check out my evening update on the “Lake North Pole Vanishes” post. It has been down to minus 2.7 (C)at buoy number two, which means the saltwater was freezing when it typically ought be thawing. Maybe it is just a local blip in the norms, however, like you, I will be keeping a keen eye on what happens to the arctic ice in the next 30 days.

      What did I mean about the ruckus and putting our helmets on? Well, if the arctic ice-melt is at 2005 or 2006 levels, (as seems possible now,) many Alarmists will have egg on their faces. Judging from their past behavior, they will not simply admit their forecast was wrong, but rather will come up with absurd and outlandish excuses. This will not sit well with fellows like Watts and Goddard. Their blood pressure will soar, their veins will bulge, and if they become apocalyptic I don’t blame them one bit. They have taken tremendous abuse for basically presenting the facts and confronting people with truth. They have every right to blow a fuse. However, in situations where the fur flies, I tend to try to be a peacemaker. Not that peace is always possible, but on a battlefield I’d like to be a medic, at least.

  2. Looks pretty well frozen from your pics over at your Lake North Pole Vanishes post. And btw I’m almost certain that that comment about kayakers was a joke, kind of like a tortoise and hare story, or better, a person stuck in traffic and an old lady with a walker passes them by. Well, it will be fun to watch if the ice doesn’t melt any more. Yes, the warmists will spin it like it’s no big deal, just like they’ve spun this 15 year warming pause as no biggie. “Ignore that,” they’ll say, “we need to cut CO2 by 100% (McKibben) immediately!”
    And I was thinking, if you want to promote your blog, when you have posts that would be of interest to skeptics, and I like your writing and so others will to, you could of course note your posts especially when it’s on topic at wuwt and goddard but also I like joannenova, or any site that you see where links are allowed, for example you left a comment at that Vancouver news site, did you include a link back to your post on the topic? For skeptic posts, Tom Nelson is a great resource: Check his blogroll for updates so you can see new articles by wuwt or joannenova, and try to get in early if you have a relevant post. Joannenova often posts at like 3am Australian time, which would I guess be about 1pm eastern time. There’s a lot of good comments at Joannenova.

    • I located the kayakers! Two firemen, I think from Quebec. There site is in French.

      I think you are likely right about the Alarmist “spin,” but we’ll have to wait and see. The arctic ice melt has a way of surprising me. I never expected that big storm last summer to turn so much ice to slush. Humans are just as hard to predict. Even if some Alarmists are unmoved by ice-melt at 2006 levels, some might decide enough is enough, and become “defectors.”

      Thanks for the ideas about self-promotion. I’m moving in that direction, but like a snail, I fear.

    • I noticed that area-graph is practically flat. It may simply be that fresh snow from that big storm has made some areas counted as “water” be counted as “ice.” I think they have some gizmo that counts the white picktles(sp) of the satellite photos. (I sure hope they don’t have some poor undergrad doing the job.) Or perhaps they take a microwave radar shot through the clouds, and do basically the same thing. In that case the melt-water-pools look like open water, but if they refreeze they abruptly look like ice. The science is by no means exact. I’m still in my wait-and-see mode.

      There is also a big sailboat moving along the arctic coast. See my post about icebreakers.The blogger “sleepalot” really helped me out with that one.

      I’m starting to think those arctic rowers are heading for that place with the airport, either to get an anchor or take the next flight home.

      I’m interested in the kayakers. They apparently are skipping some of the rowing with an overland portage. I wonder what a polar bear would think, seeing these weird T-shaped creatures. (A human with a kayak on his back.) Likely it would wonder if the new creature was tasty.

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