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So far so good - Hallberg-Rassy's new route in Northwest Passage

by Nancy Knudsen on 14 Aug 2012
Belzebub II .. .
Three adventure sailors are attempting to sail a 31ft Hallberg-Rassy, the Belzebub II, through the Northwest Passage, following a route that has previously only been used by icebreakers and never tried by a sailing boat before.

Canadian Nicolas Peissel and Swede Edvin Buregrena Canadian took one other crew member, an American, on their Arctic Challenge. The two have long planned the difficult route and hope to make it the rest of the way through the Parry Channel by the end of the week.

'We all of a sudden realized that why would we go in and just do a trip with no purpose when we could attempt one of these new emerging passages and really try to bring some awareness around the climate change we see taking place up here,' said skipper Nicolas Peissel.

Other adventurers have sailed through the Northwest Passage by heading southwest when they reach Somerset Island and have headed towards Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.

The Belzebub II started its Northwest Passage journey in Grise Fiord, Nunavut, which is Canada's most northern community. They then headed southwest to Resolute, Nunavut.

The boat and its crew left Resolute this week and will continue to check ice conditions to see if they can finish what they started.

The next week could be dangerous because if they get caught between ice floes, a shift in ice could crush their boat.


The Canadian Ice Service said the boat will meet mostly open water, but there are a few ice patches.

'In McClure Strait, at the western end of the Parry Channel, there's a large area of multi-year ice and that could be a big problem,' said Denis Dubé, senior ice forecaster.

That big problem refers to a massive ice floe which could block the team’s exit.

There is an alternative route through the Prince of Wales Strait on the west side of Banks Island. But Peissel said they are still optimistic they can finish their chosen route.

They will check satellite images of the ice each day.

Belzebub II is a Monsun 31 built in Sweden by Hallberg- Rassy in 1976. The Monsun is a 31-foot GPR boat, designed by Olle Enderlein who claimed that 'beautiful boats are great sailors'. He designed it to be a sturdy long distance sailor that could double as a family cruiser - but it is hardly likely he ever thought of it as an Arctic adventurer.

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To learn more about their expedition, http://belzebub2.com/home?lang=en!click_here.

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