Jet-skiers ready to take on Northwest Passage transit from western Nunavut town
"Dangerous Waters" crew resupplying in Cambridge Bay before heading east — on jet skis
A group of men on jet-skis, headed towards the increasingly ice-free Northwest Passage, are now in Cambridge Bay to refuel and stock up on supplies.
And their presence in the western Nunavut community has attracted a lot of attention — even in this town of 1,500 used to seeing all kinds of cruise ships, bad-behaving private yacht-crews like those on board the Fortrus who partied on illegal alcohol in 2012, or the Beserk II’s “Wild Vikings,” rowboats and even rafts trying to transit the High Arctic.
But these aren’t run-of-the-mill jet-skiers: they’re 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’s “by Americans and for Americans. It’s a network built on a legacy of speed, power danger and endurance. It’s entertainment for real people featuring real life in all of its unapologetic blue jean and t-shirt glory.”
On the “Dangerous Waters” website, you can follow the guys on their travels to date, as they depart Seattle, Washington with the goal of crossing the Bering Strait and reaching the Russian coastline and travelling down Russia.
But, in 2012, their plans got skewed.
The Barrow, Alaska-based Arctic Sounder took a dim view of their encounter with military in Chukotka, Russia, which lies just across the Bering Strait, with a story entitled “Sea-Doo clowns make it to Kotzebue, to head for Northwest Passage?”
That headline was later changed to read “Sea-Doo team.”
“I had no idea we would run into a tank and a bunch of guys with AK-47s,” “Dangerous Waters” host Steven Moll told the newspaper, explaining that the plan had been to travel down the coast of Russia to Taiwan and Japan.
Moll said they had obtained all the paperwork and visas beforehand, but it turned out they didn’t have what they needed to end up where they landed in Russia.
They tried to negotiate with officials for permission to continue the trip as planned but that didn’t work, the Arctic Sounder said.
So this August, Moll and the others left Inuvik in the Northwest Territories driving their jet-skis.
Moll, the man whose idea it was to travel the world on a jet-ski, says that goal doesn’t daunt him, but in an online interview he confided “bears scare me.”
“I know the guys think, ‘Oh, we’ll handle the bears,’ but polar bears will smell you from 35 miles away and you’re just another piece of meat. I don’t like the idea of them. It’s the polar bears that worry me. I don’t like them. We’ll put Pat [Patrick McGregor, the group’s medic] on all night watch with a Taser,” he said.
You can see where the jet-skiers are headed on their website because they travel with iPads, iPhones, GPS, Spot GPS communicators and satellite phones which they recharge when they travel.
You might ask why they are doing the difficult — and possibly dangerous — journey at all. It’s about “dream chasing” and doing “something no one has ever done before,” Moll said in the website interview.
On a video also posted on the show’s website page Moll says the around-the-world mission is important because the “quest to do things that are great has just disappeared.”
“If we could be successful, I’d be teaching my children a pretty incredible lesson,” the father of four said.
The goal in 2013 is to arrive in London in September after passing by Greenland, Iceland and Scotland.
The “Dangerous Waters” jet-skiers are not the only visitors to Cambridge Bay Aug. 15: a shipload of European travellers on board the Bremen arrive in Cambridge Bay where they’ll tour the community and be entertained by singer Tanya Tagaq, who is originally from Cambridge Bay.