“Devon Island was amazing,” says the owner. “We only saw a small part of it, but we pulled into this bay on the Southern side and found a blessing of 30 narwhals that we followed over the course of two days. And there’s the ice, as well, of course. The calving glaciers and groaning sea ice are both fascinating and beautiful, not to mention nerve-wracking for the captains!”
CAPTAINS GARETH NICHOLLS AND NICK CUTLER
At the helm, Captains Gareth Nicholls and Nick Cutler worked on a rotational basis to support Pioneer’s shared itineraries. Being equipped with a large RIB called Lookout and a 10m sports fisherman called Scout that tows behind Pioneer proved to be invaluable when trying to access some of the more remote regions and wildlife, says Captain Gareth: “Going out for two hours looking for polar bears in one of our open tenders would have become tedious pretty quickly. The sports fisherman had the winter covers on, so it’s enclosed and heated. It means you can spend all day looking for wildlife and that was a game-changer for us. It meant we saw everything.”
For the owner, whose previous trips to the Arctic had been camping in the North Slope of Alaska’s Brooks Range in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the opportunity to experience the wildlife and landscapes of the high latitudes by boat added another captivating dimension. “Alaska looks very different to Greenland, and they both look incredibly different to the high Arctic in Canada. It’s a different landscape with different wildlife. There’s a certain type of light and energy you get during summertime in the high latitudes. It’s fantastic.”
PIONEER A FAMILY EXPLORER
Built in 1996 by Palmer Johnson, Pioneer combines sumptuous warm interiors with relaxing zen-like deck spaces, the perfect respite after a day spent exploring new destinations. The original helipad was replaced with a jacuzzi during a 2015 refit at Balk shipyard, a decision that has served her current owners well. While helicopters were hired to fly over stunning aerial vistas, such as the Greenland ice caps, the open-air top deck jacuzzi proved popular at the end of a long day exploring.