In a recent post we discussed Ellen and Seth Leonard's efforts to get some firearms training and recommendations for a weapon to carry for polar bear defense while sailing the Northwest Passage this summer on their 40-foot sloop Celeste. Larry Roberts, who with his wife Mary Ann Unrau just squeaked through the Northwest Passage last summer on their steel cutter Traversay III and wrote about it for ON (see "Breaking Through" in the July issue), also weighed in with some thoughts on a weapon for dissuading Arctic ursines:
"I received a couple of inquiries from Ellen regarding any useful information I could pass along about the passage. I included the strong Royal Canadian Mounted Police recommendation to carry a gun when ashore away from settlements. The police recommended either a 30-06/.308 or similar rifle or a 12-gauge with slugs [not shot]. It looks like she has settled on the 12-gauge slugs.
"I noted the sight on the .308 in the photos … I presume just for practice. The general recommendation is not to use a telescope in the north when the rifle is for protection. If you need a sight, the bear is too far away and non-threatening for you to be allowed to kill it. If it is close enough that you have to kill it, the sight might actually make it harder to aim.
"It's funny after traveling the world through so many countries where guns are simply not permitted to embark on a sailing adventure where the police [who do the customs clearance as well] strongly recommend that you have one. Spitsbergen, by the way, is similar in this regard."
Below, Larry Roberts looking for leads in the ice: