Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness

Self-defense against (hopefully extremely unlikely) polar bear attack


Steve teaching me to use the shotgun, Photo courtesy of Tim Queeney and Ocean Navigator Magazine

Steve familiarizes me with the shotgun. This was the first time I’d ever held a gun, hence the terrible form…. (I’m leaning back, and what is my head doing? Get that cheek down!) Photo courtesy of Tim Queeney and Ocean Navigator Magazine

It’s been a hectic few days on the road and in the air, but we’re finally back with our boat!  En route from land-based home to floating home, we stopped to see our families and also to receive basic gun training.  According to the Royal Cruising Club Pilotage Foundation’s planning guide for the Arctic, the Canadian and Alaskan authorities “expect you to carry firearms for bear protection.”  Since polar bears are a vulnerable species, you want to do all you can to scare the bear away first, but if worst comes to worst none of us—no matter how much we love wildlife—want to become prey instead of predator.  So the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) recommend a 12 gauge pump action shotgun.  The Svalbard authorities (not that we’re going to Svalbard, but their recommendations are worth listening to) require all visiting yachts to carry a .308 rifle.  But neither Seth nor I had ever even handled a gun!

Fortunately, the editor of Ocean Navigator magazine, for which I write regularly, was able to introduce me to a former naval officer, Steve Konkoly, who gave me a full morning’s instruction and helped me decide on the type of firearm I preferred.  (There was no question by the time the morning was out!)  Read all about it on Ocean Navigator‘s blog!

Update: We continued to practice, train, and take lessons (from an Olympic gold medalist skeet shooter) before departing from Washington State. My form, accuracy, and confidence have all gotten a lot better!

8 thoughts on “Self-defense against (hopefully extremely unlikely) polar bear attack

  1. I hadn’t considered this before…I’m glad you got proper training!

    • Wasn’t something I thought I’d have to ever consider either! But I suppose that’s the way life often goes. Steve was fantastic for the training, and we’ve been doing a lot of practice with an Olympic Gold Medalist out here—wonderful instructor and great guy 🙂

  2. This was not something I had imagined you having to prepare for, but I’m glad you got the training!

  3. So glad to have this blog to see where you are and how you’re doing! I’m so impressed with what you’ve accomplished.

    A friend of mine is a seasoned sailor, who really knows what’s going on. Some non-sailing advice he sent along: bring a lot of mosquito repellent and also look at what Norway has to say about polar bear precautions. He’s totally psyched about the blog and is so interested in what you’re doing.

    Safe travels!

  4. Im so proud of you!

  5. Awseome!!!