Northwest Passage wrap-up: Perithia sails without adequate maps; Several boats made the transit

Posted: Sep 10, 2009 03:16 pm EDT

( Perithia changed its route plan and is navigating without adequate maps for the new route. Bagan, Silent Sound, Baloum Gwen and Arctic Mariners accomplished their mission.

Another motorboat is in the Passage heading westward. Polar Bound with British solo adventurer David Scott Cowper is reportedly attempting his sixth voyage around the world.

Ocean Watch

Ocean Watch continues the Around the Americas mission and is sailing in the Labrador Sea where they experienced a real gale; a first for this voyage said Herb McCormick.

Also for the first time, he added, they tucked a third reef in the mainsail and for the first time they set the storm sail.

When they passed Baffin Island they reported, Very large bergs are everywhere - some so immense it is hard to imagine how old they must be.

Baloum Gwen

Patrick Reader reported on 4 September that the boat passed the Lancaster Sound in the North of Canada, which marked the success of their sailing expedition aboard Baloum Gwen.

Within 3 months, we have completed the crossing from West (Alaska) to East (Baffin Island) of the mythical icy Northwest Passage by sailing about 4750 km, he said.

The next day they arrived at Pond Inlet, Baffin Island. Skipper Thierry Fabing reported that they have about 570 miles to sail to their next destination Aasiaat (Danish name, Egedesminde) in the south of Disko bay, Greenland.

Silent Sound

The boat arrived in Pond Inlet on 6 September.

Cameron Dueck described the Bellot Strait as follows. [It] connects the Gulf of Boothia and Prince Regent Inlet with Peel Sound and Franklin Strait. Its about 18 miles longdepends on where you start measuring.

In 1852, Captain William Kennedy became the first European to sight the Bellot Strait while searching for John Franklin's lost Arctic expedition. It was named after Joseph RenĂŠ Bellot, who accompanied Kennedy. The strait was first crossed by the Hudson's Bay Company ship Aklavik in 1937.

Arctic Mariner

The Mariners were out of wind and started rowing towards Gjoa Haven. Kevin said rowing was relatively warm so after an hour of his 2-hour shift he dived in for a very short swim.

The next day they were tent bounded by a storm of rain and wind. To protect the boat Kevin said it took six attempts to build a cairn of boulders as an anchor for the pulley system and secure the rollers under the boat to get it high up the beach.

Eventually the storm passed and favourable winds took them out on the Passage sailing again. While sailing the tiller snapped as a freak wave hit the boat, drenching Tony, reported Kevin. We left the boat to sail under foresail downwind and re-drilled it and bolted it twice.

Tony described their last days towards their destination, Gjoa Haven. As we approached Simpson Strait, the narrowest point of the Northwest Passage where some of Franklin's men are believed to have crossed in their doomed attempt to escape to the south, the tide rose with us and pushed us forward at some of the quickest speeds of the whole expedition.

With 170 miles sailed and just 14 remaining to Gjoa Haven we elected to overnight on a low lying barren rocky island. Todd island is known to have contained the skeletons of some of Franklin's sailors and Marines. It seems a fitting place for us to spend the last night of our journey.

The next day, 5 Sep. at lunchtime the wind picked up and they sailed into their last port of call.

Fleur Australe

Fleur Australe completed the voyage from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the Arctic.

Philou and his family crossed the Bering Strait and made sure that they didnt sail into Russian waters.

They stayed a few days in Nome. They went to Sand Point where the fishermen treated them with salmon. When they left Nome they took it easy because a storm was passing on the way.

Fleur sailed through False Pass, a narrow strait, located at the end of the Aleutian Peninsula that connects the Bering Sea to the Pacific. It is between the Alaska Peninsula and Unimak Island with its volcano, which rises to 2856 meters.

The crew reported they will complete their journey in Dutch Harbour where the harbour master found them a place comfortable enough to house the boat during the two months that they be will in France. In November they will continue to the South, to Antarctica reported their home team to ExplorersWeb.


Fiona left Tuktoyaktuk and experienced mostly windless conditions on their way to the American waters. They past Point Barrow, entered the Chukchi Sea and are heading for the Bering Strait and Nome.

They posted some photos on Fionas website of the boat trapped in the ice at Resolute Bay.


Latest position, Point Borrow. When Bagan left the Amundsen Sea into the Beaufort Sea they though they have left the ice behind, but big was their surprise.

Wed found the southern end of the large Arctic ice, reported Sprague Theobold, and were skirting along in what turned out to be less than 2/10ths coverage. The bits were car or bus sized, and very blue meaning they were very old and hard. The on-watch crew got though with very little effort and it wasnt four hours later when the next watch came into more.

During the darker hours of the night they manoeuvred through the ice with spotlights. Sprague said, Mother Nature Always Has The Final Word.


The boat was blocked by ice in Peel Sound and they hesitated to go through. Eventually they found a gap and went through. Some wind pushed them through with considerable speed they reported.

They were pleased to overcome a difficult section and said patience and luck is the motto.

Uwe and Kathrin made a change in their route plan but dont have the necessary maps for the new route. When approaching Gjoa Haven they had problems finding the harbour in thick fog and finding a radio channel to get the co-ordinates from another boat or someone else. Eventually in good visibility they got to Gjoa Haven and then headed for Cambridge Bay.

Polar Bound

David Scott Cowper is no stranger in the Northwest Passage as he had done it before. Currently he is heading westward in the Passage as part of a double circumnavigation of the globe and travelled reportedly through the Ballot Strait a few days ago.

See details of his voyage plan below. Polar Bound does not keep a website.

Three sailboats and a skiff are heading eastward; three sailboats and two 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.

Sailing from West to East through the Northwest Passage:

Arctic Calling voyage (Baloum Gwen)

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), HÊlène Virlogeux (France).

Around the Americas Expedition on Ocean Watch

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.

Open Passage Expedition on Silent Sound

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.

2009 Arctic Mariner Expedition

The two men will row, sail or haul their small craft 1700 miles along the west-east route. Royal Marines, Kevin Oliver and 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.

Sailing from East to West through the Northwest Passage:

Fleur Australe

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 GÊraldine 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.

Yacht Fiona

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

Polar Bound

Brit David Scott Cowper aboard Polar Bound is heading westward through the NW Passage. According to the David (68) is doing his sixth circumnavigation of the globe; 15 months and 35,000 miles, taking him to Greenland, through the treacherous ice of the Northwest Passage, through the Bering Strait, on to Fiji, Australia and the Cape of Good Hope, before the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica.

When that is done he will head north across the Pacific again to negotiate the Northwest Passage from the western end, before returning finally to the North Atlantic. It will be the first circumnavigation involving a double-transit of the Passage, said the news source.

Polar Bound, a 48-foot aluminium motorboat, designed and built for survival in pack ice.

Arctic Solo Sail

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.

The Northwest Passage 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 GjĂśa.
- Since then, several sailboats and other vessels have successfully completed the passage.

#Polar #Oceans

British solo sailor David Scott Cowper circumnavigating on Polar Bound. Image courtesy of Rii Schroer (click to enlarge)
Northwest Passage boat, Fiona driven to ground by ice in Resolute Bay. Image courtesy of Russ Roberts/ (click to enlarge)

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