Power & Motoryacht

THE FROZEN FRONTIER

Jane Maufe can trace her lineage to Sir John Franklin, the Arctic explorer who died trying to find the Northwest Passage in 1847—an expedition that saw the loss of both ships, Erebus and Terror, as well as the entire crew of 129 men. As a longtime friend of David Cowper, she was invited to be his crew on a voyage that recreated the fateful journey, so she could visit the place where her ancestor was claimed by the unforgiving ice.

IN DECEMBER 2011 I RECEIVED A Christmas card from David Scott Cowper, a man who had once kissed me over forty years earlier. In it, he asked me to accompany him on his next expedition to the High Arctic to transit the Northwest Passage, departing at the end of July 2012. His ambition was to attempt the most northerly route, via the frozen McClure Strait north of Banks Island, and, if successful, his would be the first private vessel ever to make the passage, a goal that had been eagerly sought for more than four hundred years.

I was hesitant. Did he really want his bachelor stronghold invaded by a woman? I had not been in touch with David since I was about 29, so there had been a lot of water under the bridge. He thought that since I am the four-times great-niece of Rear Admiral Sir John Franklin I might like to see the area in which, back in 1847, he and his two ships, Erebus and Terror, and their entire crew—a complement of 129 men—were engulfed by ice and perished from cold and from rotten-tinned food. Had they survived being iced in during that winter, they were on track to unveil the secrets of the Northwest Passage the following summer.

My life had come to something of a standstill following the death of my husband from Alzheimer’s after 12 years of deterioration. This would be a new challenge and a big adventure. I did not sit on the fence for long.

David had a great desire to add another first to his already impressive list of transits of the Northwest Passage. He had only two more to win to have completed all seven possible transits, and to be the first to do so. All his earlier records had been made solo, and it didn’t stop with

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