This month, four Americans embark on a rowing voyage team members are calling one of the world’s last great firsts: a non-stop, unsupported row across the Arctic Ocean. Sponsored through Eddie Bauer’s Be First program, Paul Ridley, Collin West, Neal Mueller and Scott Mortensen will travel 1,300 miles from Inuvik, Canada, to Provideniya, Russia, arriving around Aug. 15.
“We are four explorers raising awareness about the Arctic Ocean by undertaking the first, non-stop, unsupported row across the Arctic Ocean,” says Ridley. “We begin in Inuvik, Canada and land in Providenya, Russia. Our 30 day, 1300-mile expedition is a historical feat as well as an exploration of Arctic related issues that effect us all: climate change, energy innovation & environmental protection.”
The project hopes to raise awareness of the changes in the Arctic climate – the team will navigate through Arctic waters which have only recently become passable as a result of climate change and melting sea ice. To power the 29-foot-long, six-foot wide rowboat, the four will rotate between the two rowing positions, each rowing two hours on and two hours off for 24 hours a day. The voyage is expected to take approximately 30 days to complete. (See EN, January 2012).
The Arctic Row Expedition presents an opportunity for the team to conduct scientific research with no impact on the Arctic ecosystem. Throughout the expedition, the team will record whale sightings, collect plankton samples, and monitor the salinity and temperature of the water. The recorded data will aid scientists at The University of Alaska Fairbanks and Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (www.adventureandscience.org) to gain a better understanding of a whale’s sense of smell and feeding habits in the Arctic Ocean.
The Arctic Row team will use a desalinator to convert 400 lbs. of salt water into the 24 liters of drinking water that they will need every day. Solar panels are mounted above the cabin to power a VHF radio, GPS, a navigation system, and laptop for the team to stay in contact with followers throughout their journey. They will be fully outfitted in First Ascent, Eddie Bauer’s expedition-class gear and apparel launched in 2009.