Trip down Yukon River not a dream for German duo

Two Germans have rowed their handmade replica York boat to shore much earlier than planned. And while grateful to be alive, the story they're telling isn't what they expected.

Two Germans have rowed their handmade replica York boat to shore much earlier than planned. And while grateful to be alive, the story they’re telling isn’t what they expected.

Joachim Kreuzer and Manfred Schroter left Whitehorse on Canada Day with hopes of reaching the Bering Sea. The pair, members of a German historical re-enactment group, wanted to travel the Yukon River on a boat similar to the ones fur traders used. The boat had a sail and two oars. They dressed like fur traders and used historical equipment – like muskets and a cannon. They planned to film their trip for German TV.

But that won’t be happening this year. Bad weather forced them to call it quits on July 4. After spending some time near Whitehorse, they flew back to Germany on July 14.

The two decided to end their trip after a stormy ride across Lake Laberge ruined supplies and scratched their boat. Before they’d left Germany, they had heard the lake could be dangerous and weather unpredictable. “I have big, big respect for this lake,” said Kreuzer from Germany. “I tip my hat for everyone who’s done it.”

“You cannot say, ‘In two weeks, you are there.’ If the weather is not good, you cannot go, especially on Lake Laberge.”

Strong winds caused the boat to fill with water. The two decided to put the sail down and row. That was a mistake, said Kreuzer. It took them three hours to reach shore at a campground near Deep Creek. There, they set up a tarp and went about rescuing their supplies.

The boat sustained minor damage, but the two were able to repair it. But they couldn’t save everything. Water destroyed their food supplies. Batteries for their electronic equipment were ruined, and they didn’t have money to replace them. The whole point of the trip was to make the documentary, said Kreuzer.

“It was not easy for us to say, ‘No,’ this year,” he said.

“Our way was, ‘We must do it alone. We will make the movie.’ And that was not possible in this moment,” said Kreuzer. It may have been easier if their movie equipment were on another boat, he said.

He estimated that they lost about 2,000 euros ($2,700) worth of food and equipment. The trip had cost about $130,000.

After they decided to stop their journey, the two spent some time with a Whitehorse man they met while staying at the campground. He took them around Whitehorse and to Atlin, B.C. They also panned for gold, and found a little “glimmer,” said Kreuzer.

He’s also storing the boat for the winter. That’s good, because Kreuzer and Schroter want to return next summer.

But things will be different. First, they plan on beginning from the campground where this year’s journey ended. They plan to travel to Dawson City, not to the Bering Sea. And they’ll pack lighter. Instead of carrying two pans, stoves and muskets, they may only bring one of each, said Kreuzer. They hope to bring the cannon back. They had trouble getting it through Canadian customs this year, but if it’s allowed to enter, they’ll bring it with them.

“It’s good for the story,” said Kreuzer.

Many of the people on the flight back to Germany recognized them because of their unique clothes. They’ve already received emails from some encouraging them to try again, said Kreuzer.

As friends in Germany have pointed out, many explorers weren’t successful at the beginning, said Kreuzer.

“We are not the first ones to stop at the first part,” he laughed. “Nobody said, ‘You are a loser.’”

“We survived, and we have a good story about it. No broken legs or anything like that.”

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

mgillmore@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Dec. 4, 2020

Dawson City’s BHB Storage facility experienced a break-and-enter last month, according to Yukon RCMP. (File photo)
Storage lockers damaged, items stolen in Dawson City

BHB Storage facility victim to second Dawson City break-and-enter last month

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3-hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council will vote on the second reading of the Official Community Plan amendment on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Future area of Whistle Bend considered by council

Members set to vote on second reading for OCP change

The City of Whitehorse’s projected deficit could be $100,000 more than originally predicted earlier this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City deficit could be just over $640,000 this year

Third quarter financial reports presented to council

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on Oct. 30. Masks became mandatory in the Yukon for anyone five years old and older as of Dec. 1 while in public spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
As mask law comes into effect, premier says $500 fines will be last resort

The territory currently has 17 active cases of COVID-19

The Town of Watson Lake has elected John Devries as a new councillor in a byelection held Dec. 3. (Wikimedia Commons)
Watson Lake elects new councillor

The Town of Watson Lake has elected John Devries as a new… Continue reading

The new Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation council elected Dec. 1. (Submitted)
Little Salmon Carmacks elects new chief, council

Nicole Tom elected chief of Little Salmon Carcmacks First Nation

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Snow-making machines are pushed and pulled uphill at Mount Sima in 2015. The ski hill will be converting snow-making to electric power with more than $5 million in funding from the territorial and federal governments. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mount Sima funded to cut diesel reliance

Mount Sima ski hill is converting its snowmaking to electric power with… Continue reading

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Most Read