In the summer of 2014 Julie Bremner and Jackson Moores sea kayaked for 3 weeks through Gwaii Haanas, Haida Gwaii. Continuing a love for wilderness travel in their native country. The natural beauty of this remote west coast archipelago inspired a desire for more, and the two soon set their sights on Arctic waters. The magnetic allure of their idea drew in Emily Cole and Ben Scott to complete the team of friends, professional guides and passionate wilderness travelers. Though some jumped aboard quickly and others were sought out, these Arctic Link teammates endured seasons of planning to ready themselves.
This 100-day expedition is no small endeavor. Planning and preparation have been extensive, with research underway for over 18 months. The teammates collectively moved to Quadra Island, BC for the winter season to combine their efforts, growing as a team and capitalizing on the phenomenal paddling the Discovery Islands have to offer.
Like the channels of the Inside Passage, the team’s winter progress ebbed and flowed. Spectacular wildlife sighting made organizing logistics, reaching out to sponsors and researching the route worthwhile. Although productive, our team pined for the time we would spend 100 days outside.
Adequate and appropriate gear is paramount in extreme environments such as the Arctic. We spent many hours researching and testing gear. This involved counting ounces in paddles, finding the most wind-resistant tent and practicing with all of our bear deterrents. Water safety is critical. We will be paddling 22 foot long fiberglass tandems. Each boat will be equipped with rescue gear and self-sufficient with communication devices, VHF radios and personal locator beacons. In case of immersion we are proud to be trusting Kokatat’s Maximus Centurion PFD’s and Expedition dry suits in the remote regions of the Arctic.
One of the biggest logistical challenges we needed to solve was how to most efficiently ship hundreds of pounds worth of resupply resources to remote Northern communities. We chose to ship this cargo via Canadian North Airlines, to be picked up in person at the airport upon our arrival. Then we needed to decide on weight/space efficient resupply resources. Following that, we spoke with hunting and trapping committees in these communities to gain personal accounts of Arctic condition. We assembled devices to dehydrate food using our wood stove. Research was also done on weather and wind patterns to give us the best picture on what to expect while up north. To do this we collected weather data on the three weeks surrounding our estimated arrival dates in each community over the past three years.
Maneuvering the logistics and training has been a journey in itself but will not compare to the feeling of putting paddles in the water north of the Arctic Circle. Expeditions can sink or swim based on the preparation, and we are stoked about all that we have accomplished to date. As our team disperses into spring work of guiding and kayak instruction we could not be more keen about our Northern ambitions. We excitedly await the time we push off for 100 days of Arctic sea kayak travel.
Emily Cole paddles along with some sea lion companions. A beautiful day off of Quadra Island.