The forbidding Northwest Passage killed Sir John Franklin and turned away James Cook, but it appears to have been a breeze for a booze-laden Australian luxury yacht that sped through the High Arctic leaving behind a trail of illegal fireworks, paintballs and bounced cheques.
In early September, the Fortrus, a 34-meter, seven-stateroom luxury yacht anchored just outside Cambridge Bay, a Nunavut community of 1,500. The ship had been brought there by Paul McDonald, a 51-year-old resource tycoon from Noosa, Australia, who was leading the yacht on a circumnavigation of North America.
According to Nunatsiaq News reporter Jane George, the visiting ship hosted “a wild party where men overwhelmingly outnumbered women” and in which an underage girl was seen diving overboard into the frigid waters of the Beaufort Sea.
An alcohol-fuelled yacht party is easily noticed in Cambridge Bay, where liquor is only allowed under special permit from Nunavut authorities. It did not help that passengers were reportedly firing illegal fireworks from the Fortrus’ decks.