One Northwest Passage Kayaker Drops Out

On August 3, weather and ice were finally favorable enough for kayakers West Hansen, Jeff Wueste, and Rebekah Feaster to set off into the Northwest Passage.

The Texas trio, who have dubbed themselves the Arctic Cowboys, loaded their kayaks and gear into a small boat for the two-and-a-half-hour journey from Pond Inlet to Button Point. From there, they were on their own, attempting to become the first people to paddle the entire Northwest Passage in a single season.

The first day was fairly slow going and the team covered only 22km. The next few days weren’t much better, with “high, gusting winds and five-foot waves.” They are aiming for 56km days, so their slow start will put on some pressure to rack up big distances later on.

This pressure to put in significantly bigger days, combined with “intense sea sickness and anxiety”, led Feaster to conclude that she must step aside and head home to Texas.

“It was a gut-wrenching decision and I feel pretty beat down right now,” she wrote in a statement on their website.

The route. Hansen and Wueste are currently working their way around Bylot Island. Photo: West Hansen


More winds

With Feaster bowing out, Wueste and Hansen took some time to rearrange their gear and then put in a solid 59km to get somewhat back on track. The next day, they lost momentum again, when 40kph winds reduced their distance to only 35km — still impressive.

They are sticking to the coast of Bylot Island and heading north but might cross the channel to mainland Baffin Island sooner rather than later. This may help them avoid the worst of the strong headwinds.

Wueste and Hansen need to cover 3,000km to exit the Northwest Passage. So while they have plenty of time to make up for their slow start, there’s a very long way to go.

Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh is a writer and editor for ExplorersWeb.

Martin has been writing about adventure travel and exploration for over five years.

Martin spent most of the last 15 years backpacking the world on a shoestring budget. Whether it was hitchhiking through Syria, getting strangled in Kyrgyzstan, touring Cambodia’s medical facilities with an exceedingly painful giant venomous centipede bite, chewing khat in Ethiopia, or narrowly avoiding various toilet-related accidents in rural China, so far, Martin has just about survived his decision making.

Based in Da Lat, Vietnam, Martin can be found in the jungle trying to avoid leeches while chasing monkeys.