Saturday, September 11, 2010
In July French rower Mathieu Bonnier started rowing from Qaanaaq in Greenland towards Resolute Bay in the north of Canada where he arrived a week ago.
He has left again over the weekend to carry on with his Northwest Passage row.
During his row from Qaanaaq to Resolute Bay Mathieu encountered sea ice that blocked his way, and icebergs and colonies of walruses that were best avoided.
Coast guard ships
On the way to Resolute the lone rower met with two Canadian coast guard ships, the ‘Henry Larsen’ and the ‘Terry Fox'.
The ’Terry Fox’ helped Mathieu after he had a very difficult night with little sleep while the tide was pushing his boat against the rocks.
Ice cold sea and wind
His home team said during his row he slept for one or two hours at a time, interrupted by weather issues and drift control through surrounding icebergs.
The wind was not always in favor of the rower.
The home team once reported, "Mathieu had headwinds for 5 days, which prevented him from making a direct route.
He struggled to paddle like hell as long as possible each day against the wind.
You have to imagine waves of 1 to 2 meters hitting the boat with the spray at 0°C.
He rowed 12-15 hours per day in these conditions.
When he stopped, he put out a para anchor to avoid drifting.
He has managed very well and rested when the wind was at its strongest.”
Baffin Bay crossing
Bonnier’s home team says his crossing of Baffin Bay is the first since the Vikings “and again, they had sails and oars and probably crossed South. Alone, no one has ever done it.”
There were a lot of ice in this area and big icebergs were seen from afar.
On July 28 his home team reported that Mathieu has crossed Baffin Bay in 12 days, after a brave effort in difficult conditions.
He encountered a lot of ice during the last miles.
He arrived in the middle of seals and he met his first Polar Bear, a male who was swimming about fifty yards from the boat.
So he rows with his rifle on his shoulders, but the risk was minimal when it moves away from the ice floes, reported the home team.
Blocked before Resolute Bay
The sea ice was a big challenge up to the last minute of his arrival in Resolute Bay.
Mathieu crossed the Strait of Wellington, but was blocked by ice and 70km/h winds near Cape Dungeness only 20 minutes from Resolute Bay.
After a week’s stay in Resolute Bay, waiting for good conditions, he departed over the weekend, reported Maurice Uguen to ExplorersWeb.
His latest position according to his map is 73° 51.45 N, 95° 30.55 W (Marine GeoGarage).
No new updates since his departure.
When he left Resolute Bay the coast guard warned Mathieu about ice between Resolute and Cambridge Bay and they asked him to stay in daily contact with them.
Mathieu Bonnier is a veterinary surgeon who has skied across Alaska in the winter of 2006 with his dog Tico.
He participated in the 2007 World Rowing Championships and in 2009 rowed the Bouvet Rames Guyane Transatlantic Rowing Race.
Mathieu rowed the 4700 solo and came second after being 43 days at the oars.
Mathieu Bonnier plans to transit the Northwest Passage in a rowboat.
He started from Greenland in the summer of 2010 and plans to complete the row in the summer of 2011 when he reaches Alaska.
During the Arctic winter months he will take a break and wait for daylight again. His dog Tico will meet up with him along the route.