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Polish adventure sailor in second try at North West Passage

by Nancy Knudsen on 30 Jun 2014
Lady Dana's second time lucky skipper SW
Every boat attempting to transit the North West Passage this year has its own story. Ryszard Wojnowski, Polish adventure sailor, had his own way of doing it.

In his Lady Dana 44, he set sail from Sopot, Poland, on June 8, 2013, planning to circle the North Pole beginning on the Russian side, crossing the Bering Strait to reach Nome — as far south in Alaska as they intended to go — and returning along the top of the North American continent.

The Lady Dana, 47ft long and steel-hulled to withstand the arctic ice - constructed in Poland by a Dutch yacht builder - was ripe for the task for which it was built, but the planned trip was not to be.



'We wanted to do it in one season,' Wojnowski said, 'but due to difficult ice conditions in Dikson on Russia's north coast and some engine trouble at one stage, we only managed to pass the northeast passage above Russia.'

After Dikson, the Lady Dana 44 crossed the Bering Strait to arrive in Nome, then went straight to Vancouver.

The crew took 17 days to travel 2,000 miles.

Wojnowski stored the yacht, which he had built for his current voyage, in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Oct. 15 and, no doubt very sadly, flew home to Poland for the winter.

But how, he's back. Wojnowski, his wife, Dana — the vessel's namesake — and six others returned this summer to Vancouver and are now working their way up the Alaska coastline.



'We are slowly moving forward so our friends could see Alaska,' he said after arriving in Kethickan in mid-June. 'People say Alaska is one of the most beautiful places for sailing in the world.'

From Vancouver, the Lady Dana 44 headed up to Petersburg and Sitka and onward up to Southcentral Alaska before rounding Nome and passing through Canada on their way to the Atlantic Ocean and Poland.

Wojnowski is mostly confident that he and his crew will be able to get from Nome on Aug. 1 to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, in northern Canada by Aug. 17.

'Normally it's possible to pass northwest passage, but in the Arctic, we're never sure, eh?' he said. 'We hope it will be OK.'

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