Position update 20.35 CEST (22 Sept): 74.49006 N, 84.47766 W
Position update 07.08 CEST (23 Sept): 73.93836 N, 82.1478 W
Position update 14.14 CEST (23 Sept): 73.38908 N, 80.95178 W
Position update 19.37 CEST (23 Sept): 72.88349 N, 80.08508 W
Expedition Report, 06.07 CEST:
Today, on the 21st of September, we enter Lancaster Sound and reach the 74th parallel, considered by most sailors to mark the eastern end of one of the most critical and difficult parts of the Northwest Passage. We shall soon be proud of being the first sailing vessel, together with “Peter 1st”, that ever has sailed through both the Northeast and Northwest Passage in one short Arctic summer. We congratulate “Peter 1st” on their own success with the challenges through the ice.
We have met “Peter 1st” in several ports along the route – Pevek, Barrow and Cambridge Bay. On each occasion there has been a very good atmosphere between us. We certainly agree that we have become friends on this voyage, and we have tried to help each other whenever we can. They gave us a wire to repair the forestay in Barrow, and in Cambridge Bay and Pevek we shared with them our ice information and chart details.
In Cambridge Bay we proposed to Captain Dan and his crew that we should enter Pond Inlet together. We don’t know if that will happen, since they apparently have turned on their powerful engine and are steaming east some hours ahead of us. Hopefully we will meet after all.
Now we will get our new forestay in Pond Inlet and some small supplies, water for instance, and do the planned crew change. Eric, who has previously done both passages on the Vagabond, has been a tremendous capacity to have on board. He will change places with Trygve Rushfeldt, who is a long time multi-hull sailor from Norway.
Our expedition is one of the most environmentally friendly of its kind ever undertaken. We have used sail more than 90 percent of the time; only in between thick drift ice and in and out of harbours have we had some modest help from our small outboard motor.
For the captain and crew of the “Northern Passage” this is not merely a question of a sports achievement – to complete both passages – Thorleif and Børge both have a strong environmental commitment, and are particularly concerned with the ongoing climate changes.
It is, unfortunately, the dramatic changes in Arctic sea ice conditions in recent years that have made this trip possible. On the time of Roald Amundsen it took five to six years to complete the same distance, due to the extremely difficult and demanding ice conditions. Now we have proven that it is possible to make the voyage in a 31-foot fibreglass sailing boat, equipped with a 10 horsepower outboard motor for emergencies. This shows how dramatic and how fast these changes are happening. The changes that we are witnessing will influence climate on a global scale, in addition to the whole range of animal life in the Arctic – especially seals and polar bears, whose lives are dependent on the sea ice.
It is our hope that our voyage will be seen as a strong, visible symbol of the scale and the speed of these changes.
It is a huge milestone for us to have completed both passages, and the second phase of the expedition. However, our journey is not over yet; now we will start on the final leg back home to Oslo, to complete our circumnavigation of the Arctic.
Thorleif and Børge