Portrush welcomes ‘one of the world’s greatest explorers’

Robert Anderson pictured with Jane Maufe and David Cowper of the Polar Bound in Portrush Harbour.  INCR42-157PL
Robert Anderson pictured with Jane Maufe and David Cowper of the Polar Bound in Portrush Harbour. INCR42-157PL

HE’S regarded as one of the world’s greatest explorers and last week he sailed into Portrush for a couple of days.

Aboard Polar Bound, British yachtsman, David Scott Cowper, was the first man to sail solo round the world in both directions and was also the first to successfully sail around the world via the Northwest Passage single-handed.

His current expedition is his sixth attempt at the Northwest Passage on a challenging new route.

Over the years he has faced many dangers and delays including impenetrable pack-ice, leaks and the eventual sinking and salvage of his first boat.

In 1990 David became the first person in history to sail single handedly around the world via the Northwest Passage - a journey that took over four years.

His crossing in 2009 remains the first solo transit of the Northwest Passage in a single season and in 2012 he completed the first transit of the Northwest Passage via the McClure Strait, a route first discovered by Captain Robert McClure in 1851.

The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

The challenge of navigating this treacherous stretch of water and ice has attracted explorers for centuries, including Sir John Franklin whose entire expedition team of 129 men perished after getting trapped on the sea ice.

Roald Amundsen, along with a crew of six completed the first crossing of the passage in 1906 – the expedition took them three years.

In total David has completed five official Northwest Passages – four of them solo. The 2012 transit through McClure Strait was with Jane Maufe (GB) as crew, who has also accompanied him on the current expedition.

“This is quite an incredible journey,” said local historian Robert Anderson, who caught up with David and Jane when they docked at Portrush Harbour last week.

“This remarkable journey has taken him all the way from northern Canada and Alaska to Greenland and now Portrush.

“David was here a couple of years ago and I think his fantastic voyage of many, many thousands of miles deserves recognition.

“It’s great to have him in Portrush.”