The sun decided to bring a little warmth back into to Tuk Monday. The sky was near perfect blue. A day such as this screamed to be photographed.
Down by the pier a sailboat, docked, and the crew busy restoring fuel and water. In speaking to a crew member, they were the last boat to successfully cross the Northwest Passage this season, going East to West. The gentlemen from Belgium spoke of the exciting night they had whereby the had a spot light attached to the bow, playing ‘dodge the iceberg’ in the middle of the night.
While Tuk may not be the most esthetically pleasing community to stroll about, the view facing the north shore should be captured by a painter. On this day, an observer is treated by a mirrored body of water, only slightly disturbed from ripples born by distant boats. Cutting the space between the slick water and blue sky frosted by clouds is the sliver of earth, almost as though being wedged in between. The land elbowing between the two masses is dotted with small pingos and aged smoke houses along the shore.
Even though beautiful to simply look at. The water way of our latest home acts as a funnel, gathering all passerbys, delivering them to shore, exposing us to unique and interesting characters.
Meet Charles Hedrich of France.
On another portion of the pier, a most unique vessel was lashed in place. A very lowlying boat, white in color, covered in corporate logos, with what could be described as a cockpit in the center while sandwiched by two compartments. For an extra measure of intrigue, attach oars on either side of the cockpit. Not your ordinary row boat.
Joined by friendly couple from Australia the possibilities are discussed. Along comes a scraggly looking, tall, lanky gentlemen up to the boat, “Hi, I am Charles”. Well the questions begin to fly. This tall, in need of a shave, man began to answer all our questions and then some. He gave no impression of an imposition of his time. Charles Hedrich was his name and this was his boat. Charles, a Frenchman, is no ordinary man of the sea. Charles makes it his business traveling the worlds waterways in this ‘row boat’, by himself! He recounted his last voyage, involving 145 straight days at sea without landing. He sleeps, he eats and does his “business” on this boat. His only tools, a satellite phone, a GPS and human power. Charles Hedrich, does not limit is voyages to the sea however, he holds world records for Arctic treks, completed Ironman competitions and even raced Motorcross through Northern Africa.
Charles is a professional adventurer, thrill seeker, or a little crazy. Call him what you will, but there is no denying the true look of joy in his eyes.
The next morning, Charles was preparing to depart as ‘the weather was ideal’ for him. Based on what he was hearing, the Northern Passage was clogging up quickly with ice. This meant his plan would have to be shelved until next year. For now, he intended on making it to Cambridge Bay or Copper Mine to store his boat until next year. Until he shoved off, Charles Hedrich was more then happy to chat some more, about how he got started, new adventures planned and answer more questions. The biggest one being, and I understood if he did not want to discuss it, was where did the money come from to do this? He openly talked about financing the first 5 years of adventures himself then being able to find sponsors. When asking, “What is it you do, when you are not doing this?”
With a large grin, the kind of grin a person has when they just got away with something, he replies “This is what I do”. He in fact has gotten away with something invaluable, he is living his life and no one else’s, a life of amazing adventure.
Special Note: Charles Hedrich made a surprise return visit to Tuktoyaktuk on September 9th. Unfortunately, mother nature decided to place a great deal of ice in his path, forcing him to turn back from his planned trip to Cambridge Bay. One benefit, selfishly speaking, was being able to host Charles for supper at our home, giving us the chance to have him recount some of his adventures over a glass of evening scotch.
To learn more about Charles and his adventures, be sure to follow him at: https://www.facebook.com/respectonslaterre
-a glass of scotch
Be sure to Follow Glass of Scotch to get the latest updates on this Northern Adventure.
- Tuk meets Dangerous Waters….the TV Show (glassoscotch.wordpress.com)
- Fear and Awe at Northwest Passage Journey’s End (in Life) (thetyee.ca)