Canadian Coast Guard rescues American jet-skiers from Nunavut waters
Crew of "Dangerous Waters" end up back in Gjoa Haven
A group of Americans who attempted to travel through the Northwest Passage on jet skis for a reality television show called “Dangerous Waters” are now back in the western Nunavut community of Gjoa Haven.
That’s after they were rescued Sept. 3 by the Canadian Coast Guard in the Franklin Strait, located between southeastern Prince of Wales Island and the Boothia Peninsula, which is named after British explorer, Sir John Franklin, who died in these waters on his lost expedition.
The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton received a request from people in distress for evacuation of a group of seven stranded by ice on Gibson Island in the Franklin Strait, the Coast Guard confirmed early Sept. 5.
“The group had encountered ice, high winds, cool temperatures and felt they were not safe and were at risk if they did not request rescue/evacuation assistance. No injuries reported,” said Rachelle Smith, regional manager of communications for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
JRCC Trenton sent the CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier, which was not far from their location, to assist, she said.
The icebreaker retrieved the group Sept. 3, she said.
The Sir Wilfrid Laurier also picked up their four jet skis, eight gas drums and other small equipment “to mitigate environmental risks,” Smith said.
Any equipment left behind was left on land, she said.
All seven jet-skiers were brought safely to Gjoa Haven, she said, the community from which they left Aug. 28 en route to Pond Inlet — and Europe.
Smith did not say who would pick up the tab for the rescue — but the operation of a Coast Guard icebreaker usually costs about $80,000 a day.
Smith only said that “the Coast Guard is responsible for marine search and rescue and its primary objective is to save lives. When able, equipment may be retrieved to minimize environmental impacts and hardships for individuals.”
Operations are funded on a yearly/seasonal basis not on a service basis, she said, so there are no cost estimates or assessments of cost recovery for individual search and rescues.
The jet-skiers had been on a round-the-world journey that’s the subject of a reality television show called “Dangerous Waters,” now in its third season on the specialty network MAVTV, which says it provides “entertainment for real people featuring real life in all of its unapologetic blue jean and t-shirt glory.”
The goal of the “Dangerous Waters” jet-skiers in 2013 was to arrive in London in September after passing by Greenland, Iceland and Scotland.
In mid-August they spent several days in Cambridge Bay and then left Gjoa Haven Aug. 28 moving north to Peel Sound.
They wanted to be in Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet within seven days — that is, Sept. 4.
Their goal: “dream chasing” and doing “something no one has ever done before,” program host Steve Moll said in the website interview.
On a video also posted on the show’s website page Moll said his around-the-world mission was important because the “quest to do things that are great has just disappeared.”
But Moll and his fellow jet-skiers were defeated by difficult ice conditions in the Northwest Passage — Moll later said that “Mother Nature,” a leaking jet-ski and wet clothing, along with ice conditions and high winds, had led him to ask for assistance from the Coast Guard, which he called “angels on the water.”
During the rescue, no one ever mentioned who would pay for the operation, he said.
Moll and the rest of the team, along with their “personal watercrafts” and gear, were off-loaded Sept. 4, Smith said, although there was no immediate mention of the group’s return to Gjoa Haven on their Facebook page.
But when he was in Gjoa Haven, Moll was able to retrieve a jacket he forgot in the boat of a local resident, who had accompanied the group’s departure from Gjoa Haven Aug. 28.
“You left it hanging in the cabin of our boat… we couldn’t take [it to] you further up north. You’ll surely need your identification card and other few cards you have in there,” said Kyle Aglukkaq in a message posted on the “Dangerous Waters” Facebook page.