Safety Expert Ocean Signal Backs Canoeist’s Alaska Mission to Investigate King Salmon Decline

Adam Weymouth

Adam Weymouth with his Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1. Credit: Ulli Mattsson

Ocean Signal-backed writer Adam Weymouth has returned from a dangerous mission to canoe across Alaska to investigate the decline in King Salmon numbers for a new book.
The London-based 32-year-old was supplied with Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1 personal locator beacons by the communication and safety at sea specialist, to add to his essential safety kit as he negotiated the cold, treacherous Yukon river.
Paddling over a thousand miles from Eagle to Emmonak over the summer, Adam explored how the decrease in this important fish species is impacting the ecosystem, the fishing industry in the region and the natives.
Safety was a major priority for the trip as part of the route passed through extremely remote regions, with storms, waves and bears all a constant threat, so it was vital that Adam had immediate access to a reliable 406MHz beacon which would communicate his location to rescue authorities in an emergency.
Adam said: “Safety for the trip was paramount. At times we were over a hundred miles from the nearest village, many hundreds of miles from the nearest hospital. It was crucial to be prepared for any eventuality, and to know that in case of emergency we could look after ourselves until help arrived. The PLBs gave us that reassurance, and we carried them in our life jackets at all times.
“The Yukon is a very wide, very cold river, and the silt load is incredible. When the wind picks up the waves can reach six feet, and we would wait out storms in the tent or paddle close to the side. A canoe can be swamped very quickly by waves. Grizzly and black bears can present a problem, and we carried an air horn to scare them off, and pepper spray in case they got too close. We also carried an extremely comprehensive medical kit, from which we needed nothing but a couple of plasters.”
After training for the trip on the Wye, the Dart and the Medway, Adam was then accompanied on sections of the adventure by his partner, musician Ulli Mattsson, and Hector Mackenzie, a 70-year-old Scot living in Whitehorse, Canada.
The compact Ocean Signal PLBs were ideal for the canoeists as they are so unobtrusive to carry and are designed to cope with the harsh marine environment.
“We were delighted to supply Adam with our PLBs and we were pleased that they provided peace of mind in such a remote and dangerous region,” said James Hewitt, Sales and Marketing Manager for Ocean Signal. “It was great to hear that the team did not have cause to activate their beacons during the journey and we congratulate Adam on his safe return from a very worthwhile challenge. We also look forward to seeing the book!”
Adam first travelled to Alaska two years ago, when he came across the issues that are currently affecting King Salmon, which he wrote about for The Atlantic. As he canoed downriver on his return this summer, he spoke to Alaskan natives of many different tribes, to the fishing industry, to those living in cabins in the middle of nowhere who are dependent on salmon as a food resource, to biologists, to tourists and to state troopers enforcing the fishing ban.
“My aim was to explore the range of factors threatening the salmon, and to question whether such an animal, dependent on cold water, unsullied landscapes and vast migrations, has a place in the modern world,” added Adam.
The journey will be chronicled in Adam’s book, Kings of the Yukon, to be published in Spring 2018.
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