Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ego-Driven Entitlement

"If you can envision a swimming relay where one woman goes in and one woman goes out, it will be a snorkel relay."
"Because it's a team of all women, we're going to be reaching out to Inuit women and girls, discussing things ranging from societal change in their communities to climate change."
"Our group of eco-tourists kept its spirits high by delivering presentations on ocean conservation and Antarctic exploration."
"Quite fittingly -- perhaps, even, as an unplanned symbol -- I delivered a lecture on Sir Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-16."
Stephen Henshall -- Susan Eaton emerges from an RCAF helicopter after last year's rescue

"It was just a perfect storm of events that broke the ice away from the land where it was holding fast."
"I don't think the two expeditions are comparable, but what is comparable is that everything is dynamic, ice is dynamic ... whether you're on a boat or close to shore, things can happen."
Susan Eaton, "extreme snorkeller", oilpatch geologist, consultant, Alberta
Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men experienced quite a number of 'perfect storms', enough to last their lifetime. They, unfortunately, could not resort to the use of a satellite phone to hail rescue operations to deliver the doughty explorers from immediate and excruciating harm resulting in their deaths, one after the other. Susan Eaton, on the other hand, a self-described "extreme snorkeller", was able to do just that.

Snorkelers' paradise in the Western Antarctic Peninsula
Photo courtesy of Roger Munns and Waterproof Expeditions
On an expedition to the Arctic last summer she with another ten international tourists set out for the Arctic to snorkel among bowhead whales off the Baffin Island coast, before becoming stranded on a drifting ice floe. The rescue mission mounted by Canadian Forces ended up dinging the Canadian taxpayer $2,748,046, the cost of deploying five rescue aircraft and airdrops of three $23,000 survival kits, unused, wasted.

That expedition waited for their rescuers to arrive, and while waiting took advantage in situ of hot showers, two executive chefs' offerings at their delectating disposal, and the comfort of heated tents. Ms. Eaton published an account of that exciting expedition in Swerve magazine out of Calgary, and in it mentioned the criticism that resulted when taxpayers learned they footed a bill "for what might be viewed as a frivolous activity by a wealthy few", and one can only concur with that description.

So is this woman the least bit remorseful over the fun and games she and her cohorts indulged in by ponying up the extravagance of the fee it took to be ushered into that pristine environment, and their distress after learning that were afloat on a detached ice floe, alerting the military to fly in to their rescue and dinging the less adventurous and decidedly less well-heeled for that timely rescue?

Not a bit of it. Another similar adventure is underway for 2016, which Ms. Eaton anticipates with a preliminary trip to the North to conduct "proof of concept" equipment tests. This will be an all-woman snorkel relay through the Northwest Passage. Planned to initiate in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, the expedition is to spend one hundred days snorkelling through the Arctic archipelago, with the use of diver-propulsion vehicles, to end their trip in Inuvik, North West Territories.

A mother ship will accompany them, along with artists, scientists and Inuit representatives, with the entire voyage anticipated to come in at $1.5-million; costly, but far less so than their earlier rescue in 2013. The ten women, aged 26 to 56 have reserved their place on the hugely anticipated 2016 voyage; six Canadians, two Americans, one New Zealander, one Mexican. Meant, as well to serve as a "cross-cultural contact with local Inuit.

On the previous trip the group had taken advantage of the opportunity to protect themselves from inconvenient additional expenses by taking out rescue insurance. But since it was adjudged that "no negligence or fraud" was involved in their unexpected severance from the ice-sheet-covered land mass they thought themselves secure upon, they weren't charged for their rescue.

Ms. Eaton has hit all the right notes as an intrepid adventurer, using those hot button issues that garner awe and respect, such as feminism, Aboriginal cultural contact, and environmentalism. With those motherhood issues, how could critics damn their enthusiasm and enterprise? They are ever so socially responsible, so what's a few million of our tax dollars expended on a "good cause", complaint?

It makes those of us who don't have any ambitions to set out on such grand adventures that may end up costing other hard-working people who will never have those opportunities, much less dream about them, look pretty hard-crusted and mean-spirited, doesn't it?

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