Please select your home edition
Edition
Marine Resource 2016

North West Passage blocked with ice - yachts caught

by Douglas Pohl/Sail-World Cruising on 30 Aug 2013
North West Passage - showing ice blockages © Environment Canada http://www.ec.gc.ca/
The Northwest Passage after decades of so-called global warming has a dramatic 60% more Arctic ice this year than at the same time last year. The future dreams of dozens of adventurous sailors are now threatened. A scattering of yachts attempting the legendary Passage are caught by the ice, which has now become blocked at both ends and the transit season may be ending early. Douglas Pohl tells the story:

The Passage has become blocked with 5/10 concentrated drifting sea ice at both the eastern and at the western ends of Canada’s Arctic Archipelago. At least 22 yachts and other vessels are in the Arctic at the moment. Some who were less advanced have retreated and others have abandoned their vessels along the way. Still others are caught in the ice in an unfolding, unresolved drama.

The real question is if and when the Canadian Coast Guard(CCG) decides to take early action to help the yachts exit the Arctic before freeze-up... or will they wait until it becomes an emergency rescue operation?

The first blockage area is at Prince Regent Inlet in position 73.7880535N, -89.2529297W which became blocked on 27th August with 5/10 ice concentration with 7/10 ice pushing.

This effectively closes the 2013 Northwest Passage without Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker escorts for transit. The alternative is a very technical and risky southern navigation through Fury & Hecla Strait mostly blocked with sea ice.

Currently there is a commercial cruise ship on a west to east passage which will reach Prince Regent Inlet in another day. It is unknown if there is a CCG icebreaker in the area to provide assistance since government ships do not provide Automatic Identification Service (AIS) to public AIS websites.

Since one of the Canadian Coast Guard’s prime missions is to provide icebreaking for commercial shipping it will be interesting to see if Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Government views this as an opportunity for good public relations to help recreational yachts transiting the Northwest Passage.

Another choke-point stopping marine traffic is on the western Canadian Arctic at Cape Bathurst in position 70.6672443N, -128.2763672W which became blocked on 26th August with 2/10 ice concentration and quickly filled with 5/10 ice on 27th August and today has 8/10 ice pushing towards Cape Bathurst. Latest word is the ice is retreating at an agonizing 1 nautical mile per day northward.


There are a number of yachts known to be in the Cambridge Bay area heading west: ACALEPHE (CA), ISATIS (NEW CALEDONIA), LA BELLE EPOQUE (DE), LIBELLULE (CHE), NOEME (FRA), and TRAVERSAY III (CA). PAS PERDU LE NORD (DE) was ahead by 10 days and has already gone on to Arctic Alaska waters. While BALTHAZAR (CA) departed from Inuvik a month ago and is now on the hard in Nome Alaska.

The following yachts are enroute from the west to the east: ANNA (?), rowboat ARCTIC JOULE (CA), DODO'S DELIGHT (GBR), EMPIRICUS (USA). rowboat FAIRMONT's PASSION (USA), tandem-kayak IKIMAYIA (CA), in Russian sea ice is LADY DANA (POL), POLAR BOUND (GBR), rowboat ROWING ICE (FRA), in Russian sea ice is TARA (FRA), and a group of jetskis known as DANGEROUS WATERS (USA) reported east of Gjoa Haven.

Several updates on known others:
LE MANGUIER (FRA) is wintering over in the ice at Paulatuk. Motor Yacht Lady M II (Marshal Islands) was escorted by CCGS icebreaker HENRY LARSEN through Bellot Strait eastbound on 20130824. ARCTIC TERN (GBR) and TOOLUKA (NED) retreated to the east towards Greenland/Newfoundland away from Bellot Strait on 20130822 with the opinion that the Arctic ice was finished melting and freeze-up would prevent them from reaching the Northwest Passage finish line at the Arctic Circle in the Bering Strait.

Watch this space for ongoing news about the situation.

Douglas Pohl is a USCG licensed ocean master of motor and steam vessels, fifth issue, retired. Doug and Michelle now live their dreams cruising aboard their 55' steel motor yacht GREY GOOSE and provide yacht routing, satcom and wifi communications consulting. He can be contacted by e-mail at: douglas_pohl (at) yahoo (dot) com
........................

Graphic information in this article was derived from the following sites, with thanks. (Notations on the graphics are by the Environment Canadian Ice Service

Mariners Museum 660x82NaiadInsun - AC Program

Related Articles

See how your smart phone can help save your life
OLAS, the man overboard location alert app from Exposure Lights is available on Android as well as through App Store. OLAS, the man overboard location alert app from Exposure Lights is now available on Android as well as through the App Store.
Posted on 25 May
High water on the great lakes – Boom or bust for boaters?
Boaters can find that deeper water under the keel may open a range of cruising, fishing or sailing grounds to navigation With Great Lakes water levels on the rise and expected to continue to increase into summer, recreational boaters could find that deeper water under the keel may open a whole new range of cruising, fishing or sailing grounds to navigation.
Posted on 19 May
BoatUS 2017 top 10 list of boat names and their meanings
BoatUS, issued its 2017 Top Ten Boat Names list today, a tradition dating back a quarter decade. The nation’s largest recreational boating advocacy, services and safety group, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), issued its 2017 Top Ten Boat Names list today, a tradition dating back a quarter decade. The names come from tallying up requests for boat names to the BoatUS Graphics service, and each reveal much about the personality of the vessel’s owner.
Posted on 18 May
Brian McGinnis takes Mid-Atlantic Regional Sunfish Championship
Old Point Comfort Yacht Club hosted a multi-state field for the first 2017 Mid-Atlantic Regional Sunfish Championship. Old Point Comfort Yacht Club hosted a multi-state field for the first 2017 Mid-Atlantic Regional Sunfish Championship. The race was a qualifier for the 2018 Sunfish Worlds. Winds for the weekend tended toward 20 knots or more for Saturday where only four of the nine boats entered finished the five races run on Saturday.
Posted on 9 May
North Technology buys Hall Spars from receivership
North Technology Group (NTG) has announced the acquisition of the Hall Spars business out of receivership. North Technology Group (NTG) has announced the acquisition of the Hall Spars business out of receivership. The Hall Spars US parent company announced in early 2017 that it would be closing the doors due to well publicized financial challenges. The acquisition covers Auckland and Brekens and Hall Spars will re-establish in Rhode Island
Posted on 9 May
Coast Guard finds Aids-to-Navigation shot and sunk near Block Island
Crew of Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis discovered a buoy sunk in water with bullet holes, near Block Island, Rhode Island. The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis discovered a buoy sunk in the water with bullet holes, Monday, near Block Island, Rhode Island. The crew was conducting regular aids-to-navigation maintenance when they approached Clay Head buoy number 7 and found it submerged. The crew raised the 12,000-pound buoy and found 20 bullet holes in it.
Posted on 28 Apr
A Few Rays - When you think of sunscreen as a filter....
If a sunscreen is a filter of UV rays, how much is enough? If a sunscreen is a filter of UV rays, how much is enough? Where the skin is exposed and a sunscreen is working for you, it is filtering UV rays. Some of those rays always get through. The percentage of the high energy UVB rays (said to cause sunburn) that get through to cells in the skin can be determined by the claimed SPF of the product you are using.
Posted on 25 Apr
Boat International partners with NZ Millennium Cup 2018
Boat International partners with NZ Millennium Cup 2018 to celebrate superyacht regatta’s tenth anniversary Boat International Media, the global authority on superyachts and the luxury lifestyle that goes with them, has today announced that it will be partnering with the NZ Millennium Cup superyacht regatta, to be held in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands in January 2018.
Posted on 22 Apr
A Few Rays - What is Broad Spectrum Protection?
What is Broad Spectrum sunscreen? Ultraviolet rays only make up a small proportion of all of the sun’s rays. What is Broad Spectrum sunscreen? Ultraviolet rays (UVA, UVB and UVC) only make up a small proportion of all of the sun’s rays. UVA and UVB sun-rays are however the biggest contributors to skin damage from sun.
Posted on 19 Apr
Coast Guard urges boating safety common sense
Coast Guard reminds mariners that as the air temperature is warming the water temperatures are still dangerously cold The Coast Guard is reminding mariners Friday that as the air temperature is warming the water temperatures are still dangerously cold. With the rise in air temperature, the number of boaters, paddle craft users, and water enthusiasts taking to water activities also rises.
Posted on 15 Apr