At 69 many people might be thinking of slowing down a little, choosing an easier life of custard tarts in front of a warm fire.
But not Jane Maufe. No, the Norfolk-based
dealer instead decided to spend her summer holiday attempting to
become the first woman to traverse the Northwest Passage.
She joined her good friend, the
yachtsmanDavid Scott Cowper- the first man to sail solo round the
world in both directions - on his motorboat Polar
Bound on July 27 to achieve a feat that one of her
relatives died attempting - her four-times great uncle was Arctic
explorer Rear-Admiral Sir John Franklin, who disappeared during his
last expedition in 1846-7, while trying to chart and navigate a
section of the Northwest Passage.
Jane and David's aim was to attempt the
first ever transit through the most northerly route of the
Northwest Passage. It had never been done before, although in 1969
the supertanker Manhattan was used to test the feasibility
of transporting oil across the Arctic from the north slope of
Although Manhattan was strengthened
at huge expense, she was unable to penetrate the ice in McClure
Sound and had to divert through the Prince of Wales Strait, and it
was decided that it would be unfeasible to use the Arctic for
commercial transportation because of the ice.
However, Jane thought it was worth a shot:
"Now, however, as you probably know, global warming is effecting
the Arctic and the Antarctic, and David therefore thought that
there was a chance to get through in the short summer season if a
small 'lead' might develop."
Above: Antiques dealer Jane Maufea board the
motorboat 'Polar Bound'.
They set off from Cumbria to fuel in
Northern Ireland, leaving Portrush in early August, and their next
port of call was Nome, Alaska. The trip proved successful and took
19 days, 19 hours and 20 minutes. It makes them the first people to
traverse the whole passage, which officially starts on the 66 and a
half degree parallel latitude, otherwise known as the Arctic
Circle, at the Davis Strait and finishes at the Bering Strait.
Not content with that, they continued
through the Unimak Pass into the North Pacific and the Gulf of
Alaska and started traversing the inner passage en route to
Vancouver, but decided to lay up the boat in Petersburg before
attempting a return in the spring.
Far from rest up in the interim, Jane has embarked on another
adventure, to west London this time where she will exhibit in the
somewhat more temperate environs of the Winter Fine Art &
Antiques Fair at Olympia from November 12-18.