Solo record through the NWP

Posted: Sep 26, 2010 07:43 am EDT

The backing ice conditions in the North West Passage (NWP) makes new records possible. The kiwi Graeme Kendall has made a solo 12 day transit of the passage five year after he had to back out of the NWP because of the ice.

Graeme Kendall transit of the North West Passage was a part of his dream to do a circumnavigation of the world. He had to turn back from the NWP in 2005 when the ice stopped him. He left the boat in Nuuk, Greenland where a local bought the boat.
But he said that whenever Kendall wanted to complete his circumnavigation, the boat would be ready. This summer Kendall found the time to fulfill his dream in express speed.

His boat, the Astral Express, is a 12.5 meter yacht with an inside steering position for Arctic conditions.
The solo sailor entered Lancaster Sound August 27th and passed Barrow Point September 9. That is the short version definition of the North West Passage and he did it non-stop in a record 12 days.

ExWeb caught up with him after he had done the record passage for an email interview.

ExWeb: Has it always been your plan to do the NWP after you had to turn back in 2005? If yes, why now and not earlier?

Kendall: Long story! Basically has been in back of my mind since finishing up. I sold the boat in Greenland at the end of the first attempt; the owner said that if I ever wanted to complete the expedition he would happily have the boat available for me, which was extremely generous.

ExWeb: What was the biggest thrill of doing the NWP?

Kendall: It is a stunning part of the world and the ice is an amazing sight, but definitely a serious navigational hazard when sailing solo.

ExWeb: The hardest part of it?

Kendall: getting sleep when ice was about. Also not knowing what is ahead ice and weather wise, will it get worse? Or am I in the worst of it.

ExWeb: How did you handle fatigue? Did you miss having one more person when it came to anchor and ice watch?

Kendall: I never anchored. If I had had a crew I could have taken a 350mile shortcut never been used by a private vessel. As it was, I took a shorter course than usual via Victoria Strait saving about 125mils. I used Canadian ice charts and tried to avoid as much as poss. the ice you do meet is usually older, lrge hard & mis-shapen.

ExWeb: Whats your future plans?

Kendall: Future plan is to sail my 35ft cat in Tahiti!

Graeme Kendall is now sailing south and has passed the Bering Strait and the Aleutian Island. His plan is to continue to sail down the Pacific Ocean non-stop to Auckland,, and arrive here in mid-October.


Graeme Kendall started his record trip from Nuuk in Greenland.
Image by Graeme Kendall courtesy Graeme Kendall, SOURCE
Kendall battled with fatigue, but had many wonderful experiences along the way.
Image by Graeme Kendall courtesy Graeme Kendall, SOURCE
Less ice, faster boats and easy accessible high resolution satellite pictures has made it possible to sail through the NWP.
Image by Graeme Kendall courtesy Graeme Kendall, SOURCE