Nunavut sea ice conditions appear to have stalled reality television jet-skiers
Coast guard icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier headed to jet-skiers’ position Sept. 3
After setting off from the western Nunavut community of Gjoa Haven Aug. 28, a group of Americans travelling through the Northwest Passage on jet skis for a reality television show called “Dangerous Waters” appear to have run into rough seas.
The CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier was seen on a tracker just departing from the jet-skiers’ location south of the western entrance to Bellot Strait shortly before 8 p.m. on Sept 4.
The Coast Guard has not yet confirmed to Nunatsiaq News why the icebreaker went to that location at 71.7 latitude and 95.5 longitude in the Bellot Strait, a passage of water in Nunavut that separates Somerset Island on the north from the Boothia Peninsula on the south.
So, it’s not clear whether the jet-skiers ran into a medical emergency or needed evacuation — but one thing is certain: the Northwest Passage is still a hard route to follow.
Several yachts and vessels were backed up last week in Cambridge Bay waiting for better conditions.
There, four “adventure rowers” from B.C., who said they wanted to raise “awareness of the dramatic changes that climate change is having on the environment,” finally decided to abandon their attempt to row their specially designed, 25-foot (7.62-metre) boat from Inuvik to Pond Inlet.
The difficulties in marine travel in the Northwest Passage are all due to the ice, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports is closer to “normal” this year — which means challenging for even ice class vessels.
The August 2013 ice retreat has been much closer to normal than in the past few years, NOAA said in a Sept. 3 update.
And the northward movement of the ice pack will continue through September and reach the seasonal minimum around the first week of October — much later than last year, NOAA said.
A recent Environment Canada’s report still shows lots of ice and “bergy water” in the northern waters of the Northwest Passage with a “strong ice pressure developing on Somerset Island” — where the jet skiers were located on Sept. 3.
The jet-skiers have 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’s “entertainment for real people featuring real life in all of its unapologetic blue jean and t-shirt glory.”
Their goal 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.
“It’s snowy, cold, perfect weather,” said Steve Moll, the host of “Dangerous Waters,” in a video posted on their Facebook page before the jet skiers left Gjoa Haven.