Sunday, August 30, 2009

Completed Northwest Passage

Saturday, August 30th. Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Canada

Ocean Watch finally turned south and headed down Navy Board Inlet to this picturesque little Canadian hamlet on Baffin Island. We made it! Tomorrow we fuel up and head out into Baffin Bay and head south to ice-free waters and St. John's, Newfoundland.

We became the first American vessel in history to make the west to east passage in a single year and only the third American small vessel to ever complete a west to east passage. Amazing in 2009 there remains such small numbers, but they will be growing as more vessels hear it is doable. Probably 9-10 small vessels of various nationalities will make the passage this year. A record.

I am the first American sailor to make the Northwest Passage in both directions, and for sure the first to make the passage both directions in a single year (sailed on Roger Swanson's Cloud Nine, 2007, east to west). Of course a sailor from Iowa would do that, right, but I typify what is happening with more explorers of all walks of life, in all kinds of boats coming further north.

While some folks have been saying there was more ice this year and climate change therefore is not happening, I point once again to a record number of boats completing the NW Passage and the ice dissintegrating again, although slightly later than the last two years.

Actually all the warming and melting the last two years contributed to more ice in the channels here through the passage as older ice wwas released from the more northern pack ice and freed up to move south into more ice free waters and then refreeze with new, first-year ice more susceptible to the melt season. Older ice is thicker and less prone to the summer melt season. These were the factors this summer for our attempt.

Lots to study, data to assemble, and presentations to ready as we now head south on Ocean Watch to poulation centers along the eastern seaboard of both continents and discuss sea and ocean issues with scientists, educators, school children and the public at large. We cannot wait to have and share these opportunities with you.

Thanks to all who have assisted me personally and Ocean Watch in general. Could not have done it without you. More to come soon along the path as we head south to the Arctic Circle now and exit the Arctic, my sixth time across this northern boundary.

Stayed tuned to the Ocean Watch website (link to the right). Great work accumulating there and we have a surprise in a book being published and released for our NYC arrival! New articles in Cruising World, BoatUS, and Soundings magazines. Real Science online also has good coverage.

Thanks again everyone. See you very soon in a port near you! Signing off for now.
Photographer and crewmember, David Thoreson over and out of here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A few highlights from recent events.

Yes that is DT looking for open leads in the pack ice and at last, finding them. Also we found the Brits in the small boat ( and my pictures on the Jumbotron on Times Sqare, NYC.... and so we on Ocean Watch roll on to Gjoa Haven.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Arrived in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Arctic Canada

August 16 Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada

It has been some three weeks since updating my blog. Apologies but hey you know it has been a somewhat busy time in life.

We have sailed from Barrow, Alaska, to Cambridge Bay, a great NW Passage stop in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. There are three sailboats (maybe four as I write) here doing the passage and the first east to west boat has just arrived. This is a French sailboat captained by the famous French sailor/racer Philippe Poupon. He is with his wife, four kids and a dog.

We on Ocean Watch have encountered great people and gathered rich experiences along the path at Cooper Island with George Divoky, Herschel Island and its great whaling history, Tuktoyaktuk and traditional hunting/fishing, Summer's Harbour and Pearce Point with amazing landscapes, nature, and new friends. We found lots of ice in Amundsen Gulf and worked our way through the maze and discovered two British Royal Marines doing the passage in an open 17' sailboat. And then went ice-free and sailed unencumbered into Cambridge last night.

Ice reports look pretty good to run over to Gjoa Haven, Roald Amundsen's infamous winter harbor for two years. Then we will see what happens in the channels to the north. Right now we enjoy a break and try to soak in the experiences and fathom the issues of the Arctic.