'Expedition To The Edge' Recap (08/30/2020)

Post by: Rick Ellis 30 August, 2020

The Infinity has begun its voyage.

Can I just mention again how insane this trip sounds? The ship and its crew want to be the first sailing ship to ever navigate the entire Northwest Passage and make it safely to the furthermost point north of Greenland. It's not the North Pole, but it's as close as you can get without wings. 

This is a trip that even most professionally-funded boats with large engines can't complete. In fact, the series premiere episode began by noting that in 2018, 23 boats attempted the Northwest Passage, which is described as "the most dangerous maritime passage in the world." All but two ship retreated when faced with what was described as "the iceiest passage in living memory." One crew became lost in the ice and sank. One crew made it through.

The Infinity was one of the boats and it'll be interesting to see how this season play's out, because this ship is the nautical equivalent of an old Chevy Vega with the passenger door held together with duct tape. It's an old ship, with a large crack running down the entire inside of the hull and a main sail that has been repaired and sown together so frequently that it appears to be made out of about 50 individual pieces. And have we talked about the Captain's decision to bring his two young kids along for this "adventure of a lifetime?" 

Things don't begin well in the initial portion of the trip, when the Infinity and its crew hit rougher-than-expected storms as they sail across the Northern Pacific from the Marshall Islands to their next stop in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. 

The storm isn't a surprise, so Captain Clemens decides to bring the Infinity into a small atoll to tie down everything and prepare for the expected very rough trip. But getting through the narrow straits into the Atoll isn't easy and with a crew that is a dangerous mix of under-trained and confused by directions, it's a wonder the ship doesn't end up recreating the initial scenes from Gilligan's Island.

After a week, they are ready to leave and continue their trip but it appears the Infinity is stuck on a piece of debris. The waters of the Atoll are filled with random, rusted items left over from WWII and it turns out the ship's anchor is hung up on an unexploded 500-lb bomb. They get through that, but weirdly enough, a near explosion isn't the Infinity's biggest challenge. They're halfway to Alaska and Captain Clem has the ship's desalinator taken apart and scattered across the floor. This is the piece of equipment that turns salt water into drinking water, which is an important thing to have when sailing into an area that is so cold that you can no longer depend on filling the ship' water tanks with rainwater. Like everything else on the boat, the desalinator is cobbled together from 3 or 4 other desalinators, so it's not clear if he can get it fixed. Or even if he does, how long it will keep working.

24 days into the trip, one of the ongoing concerns from the crew is the food situation. Captain Clem is Vegan and has apparently decided that everyone else should eat the same way. And after endless days of lentils, the crew has just about hit its limit. 

And then there are the kids.

Captain Clem's 5 and 6-yr-old daughters (whom one crew member describes as the "feral kids") are running wild across the boat. Constant screaming, incessant fighting and non-stop hurling things around. It causes a lot of angst for the crew and given that it's the captain's children, it's a difficult issue to address. 

The storm arrives and while it takes several days to sail through, the Infinity manages to somehow stay mostly in one piece. But the crew is tired, tensions are frayed and by the time the ship arrives in Dutch Harbor, a dispute between Captain Clem and galley head Gracie has escalated into an outright battle. Clem apparently had a meltdown over a case of broccoli he felt was in his way. Gracie felts that the agreement made between the two of them before the trip began meant she was in charge of the kitchen and how it was operated and organized. And neither person seems inclined to back down. 

The episode ends with the dispute still simmering as the crew rushes to prepare to leave Dutch Harbor. There are some scenes from future episodes that appear to show a lot of unexpected ice in Infinity's path. Which I suspect won't be a good thing.

Last modified on Monday, 31 August 2020 01:17