Northwest Passage wrap-up: Ocean Watch is through; Arctic Mariner waiting for wind

Posted: Sep 01, 2009 07:03 pm EDT

( After encountering huge ice bergs <i>Ocean Watch</i> dropped anchor off the village of Pond Inlet, Baffin Island, and completed their transit through the Passage.

The two Royal Marines on <i>Arctic Mariner</i> made slow progress and were eagerly waiting for winds to get them to Gjoa Haven. <cutoff>

Lots of wildlife have been seen: Caribou, walruses, Beluga whales, Muskoxen, white wolves and polar bears.

<i><b>Ocean Watch</b></i>

On 29 August <i>Ocean Watch</i> dropped anchor off the village of Pond Inlet, Baffin Island to put the finishing touches on their successful 2009 transit of the Northwest Passage reported Herb McCormick.

According to them <i>Ocean Watch</i> became the first American yacht ever to complete a west-to-east transit of the elusive northern waterway in a single season, and only the third U.S. boat in history to successfully negotiate the Passage in an eastward direction.

Herb McCormick reported as follows about their voyage through the Ballot Strait. [The] 19-hour marathon that ultimately took us in and out of Bellot - in spirit and execution very much like a mountaineer's final sprint, after weeks of staging, from base camp to summit - left us out of our minds with, in turn, anticipation, tension, relief, exhilaration, and finally, exhaustion.

Skipper Mark Schrader said, "While we were making our way toward Bellot Strait we encountered very heavy ice - stuff that hadn't been predicted - and that was one thing.

The other was that most of the surface water between the ice floes was either frozen or in the process of freezing and each bay we passed was chock full of ice - that's precisely how boats for the past 300 years have found themselves suddenly and unexpectedly bound into an Arctic winter, something none of us wanted to experience.

He added, By our count only six small boats in the recorded history of the Passage have made it from the west to the east through Bellot Strait.

On 28 August at 0835 local time (1335Z) <i>Ocean</i>. Watch reported sailing to its most northern point, 73°53'.034 on her voyage Around the Americas reported Herb McCormick.

<i><b>Baloum Gwen</b></i>

The crew negotiated ice flows at the west entrance of the Bellot Strait as well as new floes in the Strait. They saw several polar bears.

<i><b>Silent Sound</b></i>

The guys were still in Gjoa Haven. They went hunting on their boat with some locals and shot two caribou. That evening the local family served them fresh boiled caribou on a large platter on the floor they said.

<i><b>Arctic Mariner</b></i>

Kevin and Tony wrote about the hospitality of the people in Cambridge Bay where they got a new watermaker.

They are heading from Cambridge Bay towards Gjoa Haven. Their first few days were frustrating with either low wind or wind blowing in the wrong direction. At one stage they were rowing, but then they decided to wait for the forecasted weak front bringing with it the long awaited NW winds to help them with the 200 miles to Gjoa Haven.

They said, In a small unpowered boat you can only do so much and we always said we needed preparation, skill, patience and luck to make the passage. Our patience is being sorely tested.

<i><b>Fleur Australe</b></i>

Philippe Poupon arrived in Nome, their last port of call. They left Point Borrow, sailed past the northern coast of western Alaska, passed the village of Wainwraight toward the Bering Strait. At one stage they reported rough seas.

They saw whales, walruses and white goats along the coastline lined with rocky cliffs.

See in the links <i>Fleur Australes</i> request for a place to overwinter the boat in Nome.


No new news.


They give a lengthy description of the helpful people that they met in Cambridge Bay, among them the two Arctic Mariner marines, who, according to them will be heading to Afghanistan when they get to the UK.


No new updates.

<i>Three sailboats and a skiff are heading eastward; three sailboats and a motor vessels are heading westward; and two cruise liners will pass each other in the Passage (Hanseatic west to east and Bremen east to west). The Canadian Coast Guard vessel in the Passage is the Sir Wilfried Laurier.

<b>Sailing from West to East through the Northwest Passage:</b>

<b>Arctic Calling voyage (Baloum Gwen)</b>

The Baloum Gwen (White Whale in Bretagne language), started sailing in the beginning of June 2009. The 15-meter sailboat is attempting to cross the Northwest Passage from west (Alaska) to east (Baffin Island) in the summer of 2009. In 2008 the boat managed to successfully cross the Northwest Passage from east to west.

2009 Crewmembers: Thierry Fabing (France, Expedition leader & owner of the yacht), Patrick Reader (Belgium/ UK, Media), Arielle Corre (France), Eric John (France: a skipper), Aline Penitot (France), Gilles Durand (France), Hélène Virlogeux (France).

<b>Around the Americas Expedition on Ocean Watch</b>

Ocean Watch departed from Seattle, USA, on 31 May 2009 on a 13-month, 25,000-nautical mile clockwise-circumnavigation of North and South America. Their aim is to spread a message about the oceans surrounding North and South America, how fragile they are and how we need to be aware of the problems and make changes in our lives to help correct them.

The sailboat is a 64-foot steel cutter that will attempt to traverse the Northwest Passage portion of the journey during the Northern Hemisphere summer, from June through September. Likewise, the optimum window of opportunity for rounding Cape Horn at the voyage's southern extremity exists during summertime in the Southern Hemisphere, from December through February.

Permanent crew (US): Captain Mark Schrader (Skipper and Project Director), David Lee Logan (first mate), David Thoreson (Watch Captain), and Herb McCormick (Watch Captain).
Additional crew through the Northwest Passage: Dr.Kris Ludwig, the oceanographer and project manager of Around the Americas for the Pacific Science Center, and Byran Reeves.

<b>Open Passage Expedition on Silent Sound</b>

Silent Sound left Victoria, BC, Canada, on 6 June 2009 to attempt a west to east transit of the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic. She spent the first weeks sailing north through the Inside Passage to Prince Rupert, cutting across the Gulf of Alaska to Dutch Harbor and entered the Northwest Passage. They predicted the key challenge will be to get through the portion of the passage from the Queen Maud Gulf to Resolute, which opens only periodically from late August to mid-September. This is the heart of the Northwest Passage. They will sail south along the Baffin Island, Labrador and Nunatsiavut coasts towards Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada their final port.

Their journey over the top of Canada is about 7,000 nautical miles long and will take approximately four months. Silent Sound is a 40-foot cutter rig sailing boat.

Crewmembers are: Cameron Dueck (Canada, expedition leader and captain), Hanns Bergmann (German, first mate), Tobias Neuberger (German, expedition doctor and sailing crew), Drew Fellman (American, photographer)
Shore crew: Dr. E.C. (Chris) Pielou is the scientific adviser, Tricia Schers is the expeditions media relations manager and Troy Dunkley is the expedition designer/webmaster.

<b>2009 Arctic Mariner Expedition</b>

The two men will row, sail or haul their small craft 1700 miles along the west-east route. Royal Marines, Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Oliver and Major Colonel Tony Lancashire are navigating the ice-strewn central Northwest Passage in an open boat powered only by oar and sail and manpower.

According to their website the NorseBoat 17.5 for the Arctic Mariner expedition is constructed of a fiberglass composite, which has been reinforced for the ice and has extra buoyancy and stabilization features. The NorseBoat 17.5 is stable, lightweight at 240 kg, and capable of being rowed with its dual sliding seat rowing set-up or sailed with its robust, high performance rig.

<b>Sailing from East to West through the Northwest Passage:</b>

<b>Fleur Australe</b>

Onboard the 2 masts, 20 meters long French aluminium sailing boat, Fleur Australe, are famous French sailor, Philippe Poupon, the owner (born 1954), his wife, actress and filmmaker Géraldine Danon, and their four children Nina (13), Loup (9), Laura (2 ½) and Marion (1) - and their dog Beti.

The family departed from La Rochelle, France, on 11 February 2009. Their route took them to Lisbon in Portugal, Mauritania (West Africa), then west across the Atlantic to the West Indies and north to New York from where they arrived in Greenland in July. On 28 July Fleur Australe departed from Greenland to cross the Northwest Passage from east to west.

Skipper Philippe Poupon, also known as "Philou", has among numerous achievements won yacht races across the oceans, particularly single-handed, and has sailed around the world several times.

<b>Yacht Fiona</b>

Fiona with owner Captain Eric B. Forsyth and crew left Long Island, USA, on 15 June 2009 to attempt the Northwest Passage from east to west. The route plan goes past the west coast of Greenland, into the Canadian Arctic and Northwest Passage, past Victoria Island, to Point Borrow, Alaska, then south past the west coast of Canada and USA towards Panama and back to Long Island a predicted 11 month journey.

Crew: Capt. Eric Forstyth with Russ Roberts, Joe Waits and Canadian David Wilson.


A Nordhavn 57 motor yacht, Bagan, skippered by Sprague Theobold. The crew departed Newport, RI, on 16 June 2009.


This is a German/Bavarian boat with total length 14,65 m. The Perithia is a fiberglass hull Bavaria 44 and home to Uwe and Kathrin.

Uwe, 45, and Kathrin, 42, are a couple for 19 years. Six years ago they discovered their passion for sailing. They are taking a year off to circumnavigate the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait.

Planned route: Greece, Algeria, Portugal, Greenland, Baffin Bay, Resolute, NW Passage, Beaufort Sea, Bering Strait, Aleutian Islands, into the Pacific Ocean, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, trough the Strait of Malacca/Malaysia into the Bay of Bengal, Burma, Sri Lanka, the Maledives towards the Red Sea - passing the Arabian Sea and the pirates - entering and reaching the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal back to where they started

<b>Arctic Solo Sail</b>

On April 6, 2009, a small, light and very fast vessel departed Two Harbours, Minnesota on a voyage of adventure to the far North. Captain Tommy D Cook commenced on the journey traveling the length of the Great Lakes to the open ocean thence north to Alaska via the Northwest Passage.

According to his website he decided on the Corsair F-31 UC based on availability, speed (approaching 20 knots or 23 mph) and reputation, plus the added feature of its ability to be towed down the highway at 55 mph.

<b>The Northwest Passage</b> is a sea route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans along the coast of Northern Canada.
Some history:
- The first to navigate these waters were the Inuits...
- In 1490, Jean Cabot hypothesized that the North-West passage led directly to the Orient.
- Since the 16th Century, Europeans have made several attempts to explore the Northwest Passage in order to develop a maritime passage that would facilitate trade with Asia. The Arctic becomes an obstacle. These expeditions continue for over 300 years.
- 100 years ago, Amundsen became the first to navigate the Northwest Passage, from 1903 to 1906, on Gjöa.
- Since then, several sailboats and other vessels have successfully completed the passage.</i>
#Oceans #feature

Ocean Watch: Ice floes and open water made way for ice bergs. Image courtesy of (click to enlarge)
Bagan in the ice floes. Image courtesy of (click to enlarge)
Arctic Mariners, Kevin Oliver and Tony Lancashires patience were tested by the wind. Images courtesy of (click to enlarge)
The Poupon family on Fleur Australe enjoyed the rocky coastline along the Alaskan coast. Image of one of the daughters and Cape Lisburne courtesy of (click to enlarge)

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