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Northwest Passage rower completes solo traverse over 3 summers

Charles Hedrich spent a total of 165 days at sea before arriving in Baffin Bay this week


CBC News Posted: Sep 18, 2015 1:50 PM CT Last Updated: Sep 18, 2015 1:50 PM CT


A French adventurer has completed a solo row of the Northwest Passage after spending three consecutive summers in Arctic waters.


Charles Hedrich, 57, finished his voyage Wednesday afternoon when he arrived in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, 36 days after leaving Taloyoak.


"I've been very happy to reach Pond Inlet," he said.


"Because it is very late in the season. It starts to freeze. Also the night was more and more here, and obviously for me it's good if I can see a little bit."


In 2013, Hedrich planned to paddle the entire 7,000-kilometre Northwest Passage in one summer, but got iced in at Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T. He reached Taloyoak, Nunavut, last year and finished up at Pond Inlet this week. (Courtesy of Respectons la Terre)


Hedrich began his trip from Wales, Alaska, in 2013 in a 6.5 metre boat. He had originally intended to row from the Bering Strait to Baffin Bay in a single summer but got iced in that year at Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T. Then, last summer, he made it from Tuktoyaktuk to Taloyoak, Nunavut, before getting iced in again.


He has spent a total of 165 days at sea.


Hedrich said rowing into the wind slowed his progress this summer, but it was a close call with a polar bear that sticks out. He said he was trying to take a photo of a mother and cub from his boat when they took off and then he saw why.


"A huge male polar bear arrived suddenly and he looked around and saw the boat and jumped into the water on the spot."


Hedrich said his rifle was in the cabin of his boat so all he could do was row away from the polar bear as quickly as possible.


Hedrich said he may leave his boat in Pond Inlet for the winter before putting it on a sealift barge next summer, or he may put the 200 kg boat on a plane.





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