Please select your home edition
Edition
McConaghy 2022 - MC63p & MC75 LEADERBOARD

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

Sail Exchange FOOTER New SailsSail Racing 2021 FOOTERWebasto AUS 2020 FOOTER 2

Related Articles

Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Worlds overall
Hydrofoil kiteboarding is the fastest growing discipline in the sport at the moment Sunday afternoon saw the Hydrofoil competition kick the action off at the Qatar Airways GKA Big Air World Championships in fine style at Bibo Beach on day six of this 16 day waiting period.
Posted today at 10:42 am
11th ACO Musto Skiff Worlds overall
Rick Peacock wins at Kiel Week The ACO 11th Musto Skiff World Championships 2022 ended at Kiel Week on Sunday with GBR sailor, Rick Peacock, claiming the title win.
Posted today at 10:32 am
Nominations open for Australian Sailing Awards
Recognising clubs and members for their outstanding achievements and contributions Nominations for the 2022 Australian Sailing Awards are now open, with the annual event set to recognise clubs and members for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the sailing community over the past year.
Posted today at 9:46 am
RS Aero Worlds at Cascade Locks day 1
A breezy easterly greets the competitors in Oregon, USA A breezy easterly greeted competitors for Day 1 of the RS Aero World Championship 2022 hosted by the Columbia Gorge Racing Association in Oregon, USA.
Posted today at 8:32 am
Stranksy wins ILCA 6 Gold at Kiel Week
Putting the finishing touches on a breakthrough regatta Sunday was all about the medal races in Kiel, with light winds delaying the starts until late morning when the both the temperature and the pressure ramped up.
Posted today at 4:19 am
2022 ORC Worlds at Port Cervo day 2
First results on the scoreboards of the three classes racing Today's finish of the first race of the 2022 ORC Worlds has not only put results on the scoreboards of the three classes racing at this event, but also given the participants a full experience of all race conditions offered here in northern Sardinia.
Posted on 26 Jun
Le Départ Dramatique de Tangier in The Globe40
Moroccan team of Omar Boussikouk and Simon Bensenddik lead the fleet away What if you were told there was a French boat and a Moroccan boat who had just set out on a brand new round the world race? Who would you guess was in the lead, and who was last?
Posted on 26 Jun
128th Kiel Week overall
326 races completed in nine days on nine race courses The final day of Kiel Week once again reflected the past nine days of racing. The conditions varied from calm in the morning - with a corresponding delay in the start - to dream conditions in the last possible Medal Races of the Olympic classes.
Posted on 26 Jun
GC32 Lagos Cup overall
America's Cup challenger victorious in big breeze finale The GC32 Lagos Cup, the pre-Worlds for next month's GC32 World Championship, concluded in big breeze. By the end of the first race, the sea state was still relatively flat but with the wind averaging 22 knots and gusting to 27 it was 'survival' for some.
Posted on 26 Jun
Vendée-Arctique skippers celebrate their success
The public turned out in significant numbers to greet the skippers Les Sables d'Olonne put together all of the key ingredients to honour the solo skippers of the second edition of the Vendée Arctique Les Sables.
Posted on 26 Jun