“i read somewhere that until you’re standing in the middle of nowhere, head in hands desperate to quit and go home, you’re just on vacation. after that, it’s a proper adventure.” so notes paul souders, who navigated the western coast of the hudson bay alone in his inflatable zodiac boat, “frustrated by poor charts, bad weather and my own meager maritime skills."
say paul, "the distances were vast for a small boat like mine, and the immensity of the play sometimes turned oppressive. northern manitoba’s interior is a huge, flat forest, and the coastline is shallow and badly mapped. every time i left my ‘big’ boat, i reminded myself that if i screw up, i die. as careful as i was, i know in my heart that the arctic is too big, too empty and too cold to count on anyone coming to my rescue.”
“i was three weeks into the trip before i saw my first polar bears, and it was only after motoring more than 1500 nautical miles (2775 kilometres) and reaching the arctic circle. searching for polar bears out on the sea ice is insanely difficult. sea ice isn’t uniformly white [and] polar bears aren’t pure white either. in the warm light of the setting midnight sun, pretty much everything looks like a bear.
"so it took a lot of patience and concentration to finally find one. …i kept a healthy distance for a long time, allowing her to relax a bit. the bears can swim for more than a hundred miles, for days at a time, but i tried very hard not to stress her. sowly her curiosity began to kick in, and …by sunset, she was swimming slowly beside me and i was able to lower my underwater camera housing right beside her.”
see also: the plight of canada’s polar bears