Last Northwest Passage Rower Calls It Quits

For weeks, Matty Clarke wrestled adversity in his attempt to row the Northwest Passage. First, his partner Adam Riley injured himself and had to withdraw. His daggerboard broke twice. Recently, as high waves slapped his boat repeatedly on the water, a seam on his boat cracked, letting in water.

Now his electrical system has given up the ghost, and that has prompted him to call it quits. He is currently about a little more than halfway to Pond Inlet, the eastern terminus of the Passage. He has just rounded the northern tip of King William Island, where Sir John Franklin’s two ships came to grief in 1846. His plan is to work his way 200km down to the Inuit town of Gjoa Haven. There, he will end.

Without an electricital system, his bilge pumps won’t work and he can’t recharge his communication devices. Although he has a backup solar panel, the low autumn sun isn’t strong enough to charge adequately, according to Riley, who is now helping with logistics.

map showing Matty Clarke's current location in the Northwest Passage

Matty Clarke is now about 200km from Gjoa Haven.


Last week, a four-person UK team trying to row the Northwest Passage from east to west chose not to continue in the rough fall weather.

This leaves only the four kayakers in the Northwest Passage. They have waited out the recent windy weather and have now reached the mainland west of Victoria Island.

Jerry Kobalenko

Jerry Kobalenko is the editor of ExplorersWeb. One of Canada’s premier arctic travelers, he is the author of The Horizontal Everest and Arctic Eden, and has just finished a book about adventures in Labrador. In 2018, he was awarded the Polar Medal by the Governor General of Canada and in 2022, he received the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for services to exploration.