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The Frozen Frontier: Polar Bound Through the Northwest Passage
by Jane Maufe
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The Northwest Passage proved so elusive for so long that many sailors and explorers believed it didn't actually exist. A sea route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic archipelago, it wasn't until Roald Amundsen's 1903-06 voyage that the Northwest Passage's existence was finally proved, but the transit is treacherous and entirely dependent upon the ice giving up its grip for sufficient time to allow vessels through. This is not a journey undertaken by average sailors in small private boats. But David Scott Cowper, 73, is no ordinary sailor. There are seven possible routes through the Northwest Passage, and Cowper had sailed through six of them singlehanded. This is the account of the sixth and most northerly - from ocean to ocean through the McClure Strait, this time accompanied by Jane Maufe, his crew. The account of the voyage is written by Jane and she captures Cowper's steely determination, resourcefulness in the face of adversity and humility in the wake of great achievement. Theirs is an old-fashioned relationship, where each party expects to fulfil their stereotypical roles. But Jane is no push-over - she can steer a watch, haul sails, and leap ashore slippery pontoons with heavy ropes like the best of them. As well as a captivating story of adventurous sailing it provides a fascinating insight into the relationship between two serious and dedicated sailors, alone together in some of the most isolated and forbidding desolate wastes on Earth. It is a relationship built on respect and high expectations, mutual ambition and also self-sacrifice, and the book is a uniquely revealing and charming account.
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