The Arctic Passage


The objective is to do a solo paddle, unsupported, from the Pacific Ocean (Beaufort Sea) to the Atlantic Ocean (Hudson Bay), of the so-called Northwest Passage. 



The full distance of the route is just over 4,000 nautical miles. In case Herman runs out of time during the season, he is potentially able to take two shortcuts overland, one at Taloyaok and the other one at Repulse Bay; this would reduce the total distance by approximately 800 nautical miles.  Herman is still researching to verify the feasibility of the overland portions.



The Route will visit the following towns:

  • Inuvik, Northern Territories, Canada
  • Paulatuk, Nunavut, Canada
  • Coppermine, Nunavut, Canada
  • Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, Canada
  • Taloyoak, Nunavut, Canada
  • Repulse Bay, Nunavut, Canada
  • Churchill, Nunavut, Canada



Herman will have to paddle at least during two seasons.  The journey will be during two warm seasons from June to August of 2014 and again in 2015.  Average paddling season above the Arctic Circle is approximately two to three months maximum, depending on how long the ice cover lasts. Even if there is little ice, paddling later than August is generally not possible because of low temperatures and autumn storms.  There is no viable way to complete the paddle in one season.  After completion of the first section, Herman intends to store his kayak locally until the start of the new season.



Herman plans to be totally self-sufficient.  He can carry four weeks of food and fuel in his kayak and will send food boxes in advance to specific locations along the route for replenishments.  He will leave a float-plan with all Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) stations along the route and will check in, in person, at every station.  The RCMP keeps logs of all travelers along that coastline and checks on progress to ensure everybody's safety.  

The paddle will start in Inuvik, in the Mackenzie Delta. Thus, the paddling direction will be from west to east to take advantage of the prevailing currents.

The target departure date from home is June 10, 2014 with a targeted arrival date in the Arctic of June 25.

The route will be from Rosarito to San Diego and then straight up to Capitola, California, to see his son Martijn.  From there Herman will head north to Canada to stay for a day or two with his brother in Vancouver.  In Vancouver he will  take care of the arrangements with regard to shipping food boxes and, if necessary, get the final bits and pieces of equipment that he may have forgotten in the rush of things.

From Vancouver is the long road to Inuvik.  Herman is currently contemplating a stop in Hay River, at the bottom of the Great Slave Lake and just east of the beginning of the Mackenzie River.

At this point Herman will decide on the final stretch to Inuvik.  Much will depend on the ice situation, both on the Mackenzie River and in the Mackenzie Estuary.  It is likely that Herman's wife, Marijke, will leave at this point to fly to Europe to spend the summer with their relatives. 

Herman will only be able to make the final decisions while on the way north.


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