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Zhik 2023 September Seaboot 700 LEADERBOARD

'Around the Americas', stuck in Nome - and enjoying it

by Nancy Knudsen on 7 Jul 2009
Nome kids try on Ocean Watch’s wet weather gear SW
The Around the Americas Expedition, on the 64ft Bruce Roberts steel cutter, Ocean Watch, making an attempt to circle both American continents, is stuck in Nome, Alaska.

The expedition, which left Seattle on May 31, and whose mission is conducting scientific research as well as building local awareness of global warming, cannot proceed because of '!fast ice ', blocking their way. Nome, they say though, is not a bad place to be stuck.

They are hoping the 'fast ice', which is reportedly around 20 miles past their next stop, Barrow, will clear within the next week. As Barrow, where they will do a crew change, has less than perfect anchoring possibilities, they have opted to stay in Nome until the pass is clear.

In the meantime, Mark Schrader, skipper of the expedition, and Herb McCormack, Watch Captain, send back this description of their experiences in Nome, giving a small window into daily life in the remote community:

'The Fourth of July parade in Nome, Alaska, is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. The parade itself is fleeting-a police car, various kids marching, a couple of makeshift 'floats,' everyone throwing candy at the spectators, volunteer firemen bringing up the rear-but the overall spectacle is a slice of Americana you won't find anywhere else.

'After the parade, a mayoral address, and the singing of the National Anthem and the Alaska State Song, Front St. remains closed to traffic while games of all description, for young and old alike, take place on the main drag. It's like the Olympics, except exactly the opposite. The gunnysack races, the three-legged races, the pie-eating contest, the tug-of-war, and on and on: It was fun and festive and there were endless smiles.'

Three members of the Ocean Watch joined the locals in the 13-mile race out of town, up a small mountain, and back to the finish line.

'Following the games, the crowd adjourned to the firehouse for free ice-cream, and then to the town square across the way for a big barbecue of hot dogs and hamburgers that doubled as an anniversary celebration commemorating Alaska's fifty years of statehood.'

The expedition was due to leave Nome for Barrow on 5th July, but will leave when conditions are appropriate, hopefully within the following couple of days. While enjoying the camaraderie of their stay in Nome, the crew are anxious to leave the dock and sail north for a close look at the Bering Strait and the Chukchi Sea.

Sail-World Cruising will continue to follow the progress of Around the Americas during its historic west-to-east voyage through the North West Passage.

Footnote: It says much for advancing technology in communications that the expedition will continue to send reports even in the most remote parts of the Arctic and Antarctic by virtue of an Iridium OpenPort high-bandwidth satcom system. Stratos and Iridium have teamed to provide this system, enabling voice and data connections throughout the 13 month circumnavigation.

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