A boatload of "wild Vikings" have their sights set on the Nunavut and Northwest Passage— more to party than to pillage.
A television crew from Norway is documenting the group of Norwegian adventurers, led by Jarle Andhoy, as they travel aboard the sailboat Beserk II through the fabled passage this month, in homage to explorer Roald Amundsen's historic journey, made in 1903 in a 21-metre fishing boat which travelled the length of the Northwest Passage.
But a look at their past work, including a 2003 video of their trip to Antarctica and northern Russia, shows the crew donning horned helmets, chasing polar bears, cuddling up to surly walruses and downing vodka with the Russian coast guard.
"They carry with them the tradition of the Vikings," Norwegian comedian and TV celebrity Alex Rosén, who has travelled with the Andhoy's crew, told CBC News in an interview. "They have no toilets on board, they have no heating, like the way they sailed in old times."
Rosén said the last journey entailed "lots of new adventures with polar bears, with huge whales — like maybe 100 whales outside, it was all around the boat," he recalled.
"We thought maybe it was mating season, because one of the whales started to attack the boat with his body. And we saw that whale and it was, like, it was crazy. These are things you don't experience every day."
Cambridge Bay ham radio operator Peter Semotiuk, who often guides small boats through the Northwest Passage, said the chances of the crew right now are good.
"It looks like it's an easy summer to do the Northwest Passage," he said. "One would sort of wonder what would happen if some of these people would get stuck in the ice and not able to go back and so on."
Should that happen, Rosén said, the crew is prepared to spend the winter in Canada's North. The crew of five is travelling in a 14-metre steel boat.
Along the way, they may collect interviews from Nunavut residents. Rosén advised Nunavummiut not to fear the horned visitors.
"They are not dangerous," he said. "They are really good guys. And don't be afraid, even if they come with helmets, swords and shields, and look like Vikings."
In addition to sailing through the Northwest Passage, Andhoy and thecrew plansto travel through the Pacific Ocean to Antarctica, then west to Asia, Indian Ocean and Africa.