Story & Photos
By Dan Davidson
Joachim Kreuzer (aka “Red Badger”) and Manfred Schroeter of Germany pulled up alongside the Dawson Dyke just over a month ago on July 13, finally completing a significant part of a river trip they had tried to undertake the year before.
Nasty weather on Lake Laberge in July of 2013 scuttled their first attempt to sail their home made, scaled down York Boat down the Yukon River, delaying completion of trip they had been planning for two years at that point.
“The inspiration for me,” said Red Badger, “is that I’m a member of the Northwest company in Germany.”
Schroeter, he said, had been going to do a river trip by canoe, but Kreuzer persuaded him that they could build and use the York Boat instead, dress in period garb and make the trip into a film.
The original York Boats used by the Northwest Company were 14 metres long and carried a crew of six to eight men. The Confiance (Confidence), at 7.85 m, is a tight fit for the two German voyageurs and all their gear.
They are members of an historical re-enactment group whose goal is to recreate historical events and film them. According to Kreuzer the inability to film after their equipment was damaged was the main reason for calling off the 2013 trek.
This year they started out on June 27, a few days after the Yukon River Quest, and were fortunate in that the turbulence which had plagued the paddlers had died down by the time they launched. On their second day they had headwinds that forced them to row hard all day, but on the third day they were able to use their sail and made good time.
That wasn’t the case for most of the trip.
“The wind come on us and we had to row mostly,” Kreuzer said. “It is a square sail and it is only possible if you have the back wind. No matter which way the river goes, the wind it is always on the nose for us. So if we don’t row we make circles in the water.”
They were 17 days out of Whitehorse but quite happy with their progress, having made 76 km rowing against the wind the day before they arrived in Dawson.
Since they had a time limit on their trip, they were looking to stay in Dawson for a couple of days and then push on either to Eagle or Circle, at which ever place they could catch a plane ride back to Whitehorse.
Schroeter needed to be home in Germany by August 3, and this wasn’t the sort of trip in the sort of boat that Kreuzer could continue by himself.
The boat might be left behind if they are unable to find someone to sponsor getting in back to Germany.
“We have not the money for that,” he said.
In Dawson they were offered a cabin at the Triple J Hotel by owner Brad Whitelaw and were pleased to spend some time with Driftwood Holly and his family, as well as having the opportunity to meet Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in elder Percy Henry and hear some of his stories.
On July 23 the pair reached Eagle and two days later were in Circle, where they ended their river trip. According to their Facebook page (New Historical Adventure) they arrived back in Frankfurt on August 1.
On their arrival in Circle, after several days of rain, they were “wet like beavers” as it “poured as from buckets.” They were “overjoyed and need long time to process the many impressions (of the trip).”