Friday, May 31, 2013

David Scott Cowper aboard POLAR BOUND set his sights on a 6th Northwest Passage challenging a new route

Given that MONTANE® provides technical equipment and sponsorship for innovative polar explorers and expeditions, it was an extremely easy decision to welcome David Scott Cowper to the team of sponsored ultra athletes. As one of the world’s most prolific explorers, he is regarded by many as the greatest living solo navigator.

David’s accomplishments rank him amongst such names as Nansen, Amundsen and Franklin. In 1990 he became the first person in history to sail single handedly around the world via the Northwest Passage - a journey that took over four years. David’s crossing in 2009 remains the first solo transit of the Northwest Passage in a single season and in 2012 he completed the first transit of the Northwest Passage via the McClure Strait, a route first discovered by Captain Robert McClure in 1851.

The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The challenge of navigating this treacherous stretch of water and ice has attracted explorers for centuries, including Sir John Franklin whose entire expedition team of 129 men perished after getting trapped on the sea ice. Roald Amundsen, along with a crew of six completed the first crossing of the passage in 1906 – the expedition took them three years.

In total David has completed five official Northwest Passages – four of them solo. The 2012 transit through McClure Strait was with Jane Maufe (GB) as crew.

In the spring of 2013 he will return to the Arctic in his ship Polar Bound to attempt to complete another transit of the Northwest Passage via a new route – if successful he will have crossed the Passage by five possible routes. On his latest challenge David will be using MONTANE® clothing and equipment.

Follow David's progress on

You can read about David's Northwest Passage Solo voyage at:

David Scott Cowper is a British yachtsman, and was the first man to sail solo round the world in both directions and was also the first to successfully sail around the world via the Northwest Passage single-handed.

 He faced many dangers and delays including impenetrable pack-ice, leaks and the eventual sinking and salvage of his first boat.

This involving account of four round-the-world solo voyages by a British yachter will enthrall lovers of sea lore. In 1980 and 1982 Cowper circumnavigated the globe in a sloop--first easterly, then westerly--both times via Cape Horn; he was the first sailor ever to do so. In 1984-1985 he repeated the trip, this time in a motor vessel, a converted lifeboat. But these adventures served as preludes to his solo circumnavigation via the Northwest Passage, which consumed four and a half years and ended triumphantly in 1990. Cowper's sloop was generally sturdy and dependable, but the elements were unforgiving, as he had to battle ice and fog even in August, and several times had to abandon his ship during the winter. A stirring story. 
Photos Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

With the world seemingly becoming smaller each day, with less room for new adventures and discoveries, David Cowper's journey will invigorate those who have a yearning for the olden days of the explorers. The Northwest Passage still has a romantic mystic attached to it, and the difficulties of crossing it are well described in this book. Enough detail and description is included to give the reader a genuine feel for the Passage and the scope of the trip. Even if a reader has no interest in the North, the book offers a glimpse into the human spirit's desire for adventure and challenge. Yet, and perhaps the nicest thing about it, Mr. Cowper retains humility and never self-aggrandizes.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Little More of the Northwest Passage History - Captain Joseph Bernard aboard TEDDY BEAR

North Andover native talks about 'Chasing Alaska'

NORTH ANDOVER — When Chris Bernard, formerly of North Andover, drove 7,000 miles to Alaska in 1999, he was looking forward to making a living by fishing and hunting.

Instead, he began a quest that 14 years later culminated in his first published book, “Chasing Alaska.” This is the story of his ancestor, Capt. Joseph Bernard, who journeyed to Alaska at the beginning of the 20th century and spent many years exploring the huge, frigid Last Frontier.

Bernard, 42, who now resides in Portland, Ore., found out about Joseph Bernard – his great-grandfather’s first cousin – by accident. His father met a distant relative at a funeral and when he mentioned that the younger Bernard had gone to Alaska, the relative revealed that Joseph Bernard had also traveled there a century before.

In another coincidence, Chris Bernard discovered that Joseph Bernard was buried in a graveyard only 40 feet from the house he was renting in Sitka. Bernard began researching his ancestor and discovered that “he was a remarkable man,” he said.

While most of the Arctic explorers of his era, including Robert Peary, Matthew Henson, Roald Amundsen and Vilhjalmur Stefansson, were sponsored by governments, Capt. Joseph Bernard, worked completely on his own, according to his descendant.

“His goal was curiosity,” he said. Sailing in his 56-foot schooner Teddy Bear, Bernard traveled “more water miles than any predecessor,” the author said. Capt. Bernard also sailed farther east in the Northwest Passage than any previous explorer, he added.

(I think this is not figurative but rather an expression of the author's proud accomplishments of his great grandfather's cousin's adventures into the Arctic since the Northwest Passage is between Atlantic Ocean Arctic Circle and Pacific Ocean Arctic Circle. There is no record of a Captain Bernard proceeding east from Alaska's Bering Strait Pacific Ocean Arctic Circle sailing to the Atlantic Ocean Arctic Circle in Davis Strait before Roald Amundsen's Northwest Passage voyage of 1903-1906.  The below website documents Captain Joseph Bernard's TEDDY BEAR sailing in Alaska and Canada's NWT and Nunavut in 1909-1914 and again in 1916-1920 then Siberia in 1921-1926.)

(See the website and urls below:

Capt. Bernard spent 10 winters “frozen in” at various Arctic locations.

“He lived off his rifle and his traps,” Bernard said.

Joseph Bernard, a native of Prince Edward Island, suffered from tuberculosis as a child and was not expected to live to be an adult, his chronicler said. Yet he lived to be 93, after surviving temperatures that sometime plunged 58 degrees below zero.

Besides exploring, Capt. Bernard worked as a commercial fisherman and boatbuilder. He acquired a huge collection of Eskimo and Inuit artifacts, which he donated to museums and universities, Bernard said.

He also kept at least one polar bear as a pet.

“Chasing Alaska” has 280 pages and was published by Lyons Press of Guilford, Conn. Bernard, a former Salem News reporter, will be in the area this week to talk about what he calls his “labor of love.”

He’ll be signing copies of his book at Andover Bookstore, 89R Main St., Andover, at 7 p.m. Thursday; and at Jabberwocky Bookshop, 50 Water St., Newburyport, at 7 p.m. Friday.

Chris Bernard was born in Lawrence, raised in North Andover and graduated from St. John’s Prep and St. Michael’s College in Winooski, Vt.

Book Description

Publication Date: May 7, 2013

Alaska looms as a mythical, savage place, part nature preserve, part theme park, too vast to understand fully. Which is why C.B. Bernard lashed his canoe to his truck and traded the comforts of the Lower 48 for a remote island and a career as a reporter. It turned out that a distant relation had made the same trek northwest a century earlier. Captain Joe Bernard spent decades in Alaska, amassing the largest single collection of Native artifacts ever gathered, giving his name to landmarks and even a now-extinct species of wolf. C.B. chased the legacy of this explorer and hunter up the family tree, tracking his correspondence, locating artifacts donated to museums, and finding his journals at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. Using these journals as guides, C.B. threw himself into the state once known as Seward’s Folly, boating to remote islands, hiking distant forests, hunting and fishing the pristine landscape. He began to form a landscape view of the place that had lured him and "Uncle Joe," both men anchored beneath the Northern Lights in freezing, far-flung waters, separated only by time. Here, in crisp, crystalline prose, is his moving portrait of the Last Frontier, then and now.

Editorial Reviews


• A National Geographic Intelligent Travel Best Travel Book selection
• A Publishers Weekly Top Ten Travel Pick

• A Longfellow Books Bestseller

"Elegant snapshots of contemporary life in Alaska."
—Willamette Week
"Bernard writes movingly of the northern climate and landscape, of solitude and distance, of feeling utterly transformed. ... An illuminating quest to understand his fascinating ancestor and himself."

"This lyrical book, with its abundant wisdom, humility, and grace, made me see Alaska anew and with deeper regard. Bravo, C. B."
—Kim Heacox, author of The Only Kayak and Visions of a Wild America

"C. B. Bernard deftly takes us along on the pivotal journey of following his lodestar. His life and his words flourish for this continental migration, and his journey is like an extended vision quest. Through his eye we gather the extreme diversity of the land and the colorful people who inhabit it, past and present. By strapping us in for the ride, Bernard reminds us that we too might discover the breadths of our own waiting potentials."

—Mark Warren, author of Two Winters in a Tipi

About the Author

C. B. Bernard, winner of several Alaska Press Club awards, has written extensively for Alaskan Southeaster, Pacific Fishing, Professional Mariner, and Gray’s Sporting Journal. He lives with his wife, Kim, in Portland, Oregon.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Circle the Planet on Personal Water Craft (i.e. jetskis) - Arctic Northwest Passage in 2013?

A never before attempted expedition is underway, to circle the entire planet on personal water craft. A brave crew of men are tackling the worst that mother nature has to throw at them. Enormous waves, gale force winds, and dangerous wildlife. These brave men follow expedition leader Steven Moll with no chase boat, no support aircraft and take only what they can carry, this is their story.

Pictures from the website teaser...

Dangerous Waters on MAVTV

Historical link urls:

Monday, May 20, 2013

2012 NWP S/V KATHARSIS2 sails on to the South Pacific in 2013

 After a successful 2012 East-to-West Northwest Passage, sailing vessel KATHARSIS II sailed the Inside Passage to Vancouver Canada, USA West Coast to San Diego, port-to-port through Mexico to Costa Rica then across to the South Pacific.... here are updated voyage pixs... so what ya going to do after your Northwest Passage?
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(Click any image below for a larger size)

S/V KATHARSIS II (Oyster 72)

Captain Mariusz (Conrady Award in 2012)

Mate, Chef and Naturalist: Hanus

Goodbye Costa Rica (fantastic diving memories)

Crossing The Equator 'Line' 

Kite equipped with camera

Tuamotu Islands Group - Matureivavao Atoll

Checking catch for radiation (France conducted 192 nuclear weapon tests in French Polynesia) 

Crewmembers Tom and Barbara in the galley preparing roasted Mahi Mahi with papaya sauce

Entering Amanu Atoll

The old village church Hititake was originally built in 1875

Only 200 people inhabit Hititake. With no airport their only contact is with visiting yachts and the government supply ship

Checkout the excellent website:

Smooth sailing KATHARSIS2 and crew!

Katharsis II - Northwest Passage 2012

On going saga update -

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