Don’t call them pirates

Joachim Kreuzer and Manfred Schroter are back in Whitehorse, one year after they tried to row and sail a replica York boat from Whitehorse to the Bering Sea.

Joachim Kreuzer and Manfred Schroter are back in Whitehorse, one year after they tried to row and sail a replica York boat from Whitehorse to the Bering Sea.

Their York boat, the kind fur traders used to travel throughout Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries, has rested in Whitehorse for the past year.

The pair will travel wearing leather boots, canvas trousers, long-sleeved linen shirts, vests and scarfs; clothes made to resemble the era. They will also have historic guns, including a musket.

Last year’s adventure came to an unfortunate end just three days into the journey, when they got caught on two sandbars in Lake Laberge. With their boat stuck, the weather worsened and each wave brought more water aboard. They had been filming their journey and eventually the water destroyed their generator, battery box, transformers and cameras.

With an inflatable raft they made 20 trips between the boat and shore, getting their equipment and supplies onto land.

Days before, the two had met local resident Roy Pawluk at Mom’s Bakery and over a cigarette Pawluk had told them if they run into any problems to give him a call.

Pawluk came through for them, and with his truck he helped the duo pack their equipment up and get off the lake. They stayed at Pawluk’s property for a week before eventually flying back to Germany.

On Wednesday afternoon this week, Pawluk was there again, leaning up against the side of his truck as Kreuzer and Schroter worked on the boat, a generator whirring in the background.

They had been up past 1 a.m. the previous night, taking the keel off the boat, in hopes of avoiding another snag on a sandbar. Trouble with their tools led to them spending most of the night working on the boat with a handsaw and a Leatherman.

They are hoping to be back on the water by Friday afternoon, heading back out from the spot they came off the lake last year.

The dream is still to reach the Bering Sea, but they know now how quickly plans can change.

Their first stop, if they get there, will be Dawson City. They will pick up more food and supplies and, if all is well, the adventure will go on.

“The journey is what is important,” Kreuzer says, packing his pipe with tobacco slung around his neck in a leather pouch.

They will embark on their voyage in traditional dress, historic clothing and accessories – a central element to the journey.

Their boat is 6.7 metres long and just under two metres wide – smaller than a full York boat, but large enough for their purposes. They spent more than five months building it, doing everything by hand, including sewing the sail.

When they arrived in Whitehorse last week, many residents recognized them from last year.

“We heard people say, ‘Look – there go the pirates,’” laughs Kreuzer, smoke escaping his smile and billowing up in the air. “We’re York men – but pirates, too.”

The two aren’t strangers to living in the past. They are both members of New Historical Adventure, a historical re-enactment group in Germany.

Kreuzer, who goes by the moniker Red Badger, owns his own company making traditional boats and metal tools, and Schroter works in security. Despite often travelling into the past, this trip represents something more for the pair.

“If we start a plan, we can’t give up. That’s one of our problems,” Kreuzer says.

Initially, Schroter, who is visiting Yukon for the fourth time, had planned to paddle himself to the Bering Sea, following a route a friend had previously taken.

When he mentioned his plan to Kreuzer, he wanted in, but under different conditions – he wanted them to experience the journey the way the fur traders had.

From there the two began the process of funding the trip, building and purchasing supplies and trying to find sponsorship. They were able to recoup some costs but most, an expense of more than $130,000, came from their own pockets.

“We’re not soccer players,” Kreuzer says, explaining the difficulties obtaining sponsorship, “just two crazy Germans.”

Beside Kreuzer, Schroter handles a musket, one of several historic weapons and knives they will be travelling with. “This is for when the bear comes,” Schroter says, with a smile.

The two will camp in a yurt they are traveling with, and build shelter with a tarp and the boat’s oars.

On Pawluck’s property, they’ve set up a base camp. A fire crackles behind them as they speak, their supplies and tools strewn around, the mid-day sun shining off the pine of the boat.

The boat is named Confiance, a name that came in their dreams, they say.

“We have the confidence to build our boat and to make this trip happen, Kreuzer says.

“If you have a dream, you hang on it it – and in our dreams there was this boat.”

Contact Sam Riches at

sam@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

Two people walk up the stairs past an advance polling sign at the Canda Games Centre on April 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
April 12 is polling day: Here’s how to vote

If in doubt, electionsyukon.ca has an address-to-riding tool

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon addressing media at a press conference on April 8. The territorial election is on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Currie Dixon and the Yukon Party platform

A closer look at the party leader and promises on the campaign trail

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read