Once considered “one of the vilest stretches of water in the world”, sailing the Seymour Narrows is certainly an adventure. This, one time, dangerous stretch of water is notorious for its swirling currents, eddies and whirlpools. Sailors brave enough to navigate the five kilometre passage were considered heroes. Over 120 ships sunk between 1850 and 1953, striking their hulls on the invisible rocks just beneath the surface. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Narrows carry their name well. For most of its length, they are just 750 metres wide. Pressure had been plied to the Canadian government since the 1900s to widen the narrows and remove some of the treacherous, jagged rocks that claimed at least 110 lives. A first attempt was made in 1943, when a huge drilling rig was sent to the area with the intention to place dynamite deep in the rock to remove the top layer. Unfortunately, the current was so strong that the thick steel cables securing the barge to the bottom of the sea bed continually broke, making the drilling impossible.
Another attempt was made using the same method in 1945, but it too was hindered by the immense tidal flow. Success arrived in 1958 when a team of scientists blasted the rock by tunnelling from underneath, and thus avoiding the fatal currents. In total, 370,000 tons of rock were blasted away, never to endanger another life again. The demolition stands as being the biggest non-nuclear explosion in history. Today, sailing the Narrows is thankfully a pleasant experience!