They've done it! The crew of Belzebub II, a 1976 Hallberg-Rassy Monsun 31, have made it through the most northerly route possible in the Northwest Passage and while they still have challenges ahead, have reached the other end of the most dangerous strait successfully.
Belzebub II route - McClure Strait (in green) just completed
This week Canadian Nicolas Peissel and Swede Edvin Buregren with an American crew member made it through the M'Clure Strait, never previously negotiated by a sailing boat.
'Everyone on board is ecstatic, but also very tired,' Peissel told CBC News in Canada.
But it hadn't been easy. In an area where the charts are notoriously inaccurate and the waters narrow, by Wednesday this week the crew of the Belzebub II had been awake for 48 hours navigating the dangerous waters of the M'Clure Strait. At times the strait was 40 to 50 per cent filled with ice.
'Throughout this whole 48 hours, we were never clear if the ice was going to push up against the land and trap us for the winter,' Peissel said.
Belzebub II stayed in the Parry Channel as they headed from east to west, making it the most northerly route completed by a sailing boat.
Part of the group's mission is to raise awareness about climate change and the melting Arctic sea ice. 'This is unheard of. The bodies of water that we’re sailing through right now should be packed with thick ice,' Peissel added.
However, they are not home yet. While they are surprised and delighted that they have completed something never done before, now that the small, fibreglass yacht has made it to the other side, the most dangerous part of their journey could lay ahead.
They are heading to the Bering Sea at the height of storm season.
Congratulations, Belzebub II, and good luck! O yes, and my next boat is going to be a Hallberg-Rassy...
You can follow the journey of Belzebub II by going to their http://belzebub2.com!website
While Belzebub II is the first sailing boat ever to transit the McClure Strait, and we applaud the achievement, a reader has drawn attention to famed circumnavigator David Scott Cowper, who, at the age of 70, aboard the Motor Vessel Polar Bound, negotiated the Strait earlier in 2012.