Northwest Passage Kayakers Wait at Starting Point After Ill-Timed First Day

Fog, wind, and swiftly shifting sea ice led to an unexpectedly epic first day for the four NWP kayakers earlier this week. In the poor visibility, West Hansen, Jeff Wueste, Mark Agnew, and Eileen Visser weren’t able to get around the unpredictable ice. After 12 hours, they managed to retreat to the southeast corner of Bylot Island, where they began.

One of the two double kayaks even flipped, but Jeff Wueste and Mark Agnew, wearing drysuits, emerged safely from the experience.

tracker showing initial day's paddle

West Hansen’s tracker shows the ragged out-and-back course as the kayakers unsuccessfully tried to get around to the north side of Bylot Island.


Since Monday, they have been in a hunting shack near the shore, waiting for the visibility and ice conditions to change. They are trying to sound cheerful on social media, but as the summer ticks on, with 3,000km of challenging arctic paddling ahead of them, a certain amount of nail-biting behind the scenes — maybe even a lot — is inevitable.

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.