The Northwest Passage proved so elusive for so long that many sailors and explorers believed it didn't actually exist. A sea route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic archipelago, it wasn't until Roald Amundsen's 1903–06 voyage that the Northwest Passage's existence was finally proved, but the transit is treacherous and entirely dependent upon the ice giving up its grip for sufficient time to allow vessels through. This is not a journey undertaken by average sailors in small boats.
But David Scott Cowper, 74, is no ordinary sailor. There are seven possible routes through the Northwest Passage, and Cowper had sailed through four of them singlehanded. This is the account of the fifth and most northerly--from ocean to ocean through the McClure Strait--and the sixth, the return voyage, both times accompanied by Jane Maufe as his crew.
The account of the voyage is written by Jane and she captures Cowper's steely determination, resourcefulness in the face of adversity, and humility in the wake of great achievement. Theirs is an old-fashioned relationship, where each party expects to fulfill their stereotypical roles. But Jane is no push-over--she can steer a watch, haul large diesel cans, and leap ashore slippery pontoons with heavy ropes like the best of them.
As well as a captivating story of adventurous voyaging it provides a fascinating insight into the relationship between two serious and dedicated sailors, alone together in some of the most isolated and forbidding desolate wastes on earth. It is a relationship built on respect and high expectations, mutual ambition, and also self-sacrifice; the book is a uniquely revealing and charming account.
Jane Maufeis the four times great niece of Sir John Franklin, who was lost (along with his 129 crew) trying to chart and navigate a route through the Northwest Passage in 1845. Jane and David achieved the first ever transit through the most northerly route and it was the first by a woman. Leaving Northern Ireland in August, it took them just under 20 days to reach Alaska via the McClure Strait --a remarkable achievement.
David Scott Cowper is an intrepid British seafarer who holds numerous records. He was the first man to sail solo around the world in both directions, and the first to circumnavigate the world via the Northwest Passage singlehandedly--a journey that took over 4 years.
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