Please select your home edition
Edition
RS Sailing 728x90 AUS

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

BandG AUS Triton2 FOOTERRS Sailing BOTTOMVaikobi 2019 - Footer 1

Related Articles

Jock Calvert finishes with a Medal Race win
Young Tasmanian sailor won the Finn Medal Race Young Tasmanian sailor Jock Calvert won the Finn Medal Race to finish sixth overall on the final day of the Hempel World Cup Series in Genoa, while a second young Australian, Mara Stransky, finished eighth in the Laser Radial Medal Race
Posted today at 1:14 am
All happening here (and there)
We looked at the Black Jack programme once before Back in 'Nothing wrong with your eyesight', we looked at the Black Jack programme for 2019. Evidently, there is absolutely nothing awry with Roy Disney's vision either, for he has snapped up the former Volvo 70 to become the latest Pyewacket.
Posted on 21 Apr
Australian O'pen Skiff Championships day 2
Airlie Beach really turning it on Almost deja vu at Airlie Beach today, as the kids arrived to rig their boats a consistent 12-15 knots filled the harbour, the sun came out and the stage was set for another stunning day of sailing.
Posted on 21 Apr
505 Euro Cup Cannes overall
Quirk and Needham take the title Sailed at Yacht Club de Cannes, the final day of the Euro Cup Cannes was cancelled due to too much breeze, but the participants enjoyed some really tight competition throughout the regatta.
Posted on 21 Apr
Hempel World Cup Series Genoa overall
Brazil snapped up two gold medals on the final day Brazil snapped up two gold medals on the final day of the Hempel World Cup Series event in Genoa, Italy with Hungarian, Danish and Kiwi sailors claiming the remaining gold medals.
Posted on 21 Apr
Transpac Tahiti Race 2020: Notice of Race issued
16th edition has already attracted five entries Already five entries representing a broad range of boat types have signed on to compete in the 3570-mile voyage from Los Angeles to Papeete, first sailed in 1925.
Posted on 21 Apr
Toyota NZ Optimist Nats: Australian leads - Day 3
15-year-old Daniel Links from Australia had a successful day on the water on Day 3 15-year-old Daniel Links from Australia had a successful day on the water at 2019 Toyota Optimist National Championships, and after five races is leading the Open Fleet.
Posted on 21 Apr
Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille day 6
A perfect 10 The 10th edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille delivered a perfect '10' across all categories: great breeze and challenging race courses, shoreside fun, and even three perfect scorelines within the nine classes racing
Posted on 21 Apr
Gold for Gilmour brothers at Genoa World Cup
West Australian brothers won the 49er gold medal on Day 6 West Australian brothers David and Lachy Gilmour have won the 49er gold medal on Day 6 of the Hempel World Cup Series – Round 3, Genoa, after finishing fourth in the double points Medal Race.
Posted on 21 Apr
Australian O'pen Skiff Championships day 1
The perfect start at Airlie Beach Whitsunday Sailing Club are hosting the 2019 AUS O'pen Skiff Championships at Airlie Beach, QLD. Racing got under way today in champagne sailing conditions with a steady 12 knots funneling through the hills onto the race area.
Posted on 20 Apr