NW Passage

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24 July 2017

1000 miles to go

24 November 2009 | 1000 nm NE of Trinidad
Ruedi
It's all relative !
Endless water: boring ?
Before deciding for this trip, I asked myself if I would probably experience this as a boring enterprise, several weeks of endless water with nothing to do and nowhere to escape. Starting already the 3rd week, it all looks different (and very easy): the view is ever changing, depending on daylight, clouds and winds. There is always something to do an a boat, be it during our own "working shift", reacting on surprises of technology, welcoming to frequent "visitors" or cleaning and cooking. Beside the "work", there is ample time for good talks, reading, leisure and sleeping. We still haven't found the need to play cards or other games.
Technology for comfort and safety:
This boat offers every possible infrastructure on electricity, gas and fresh water (water-maker) for showers, pantry with fridge and oven, there are two strong engines plus all kind of navigation control systems to ease handling including wind-control, GPS, radar and autopilot, safety functions like fire-extinguishers, lifevests, signaling buoy, life-raft, MOB (man-over-board) alarm and localization, dinghy and endless extras for control and communications (PC with Satellite Intranet for Meteo or blog-update, Radio for weatherfax up to Satellite phone for medical advice). These systems fully rely on available energy supply and mutually depend on or are backed-up by others. The system complexity is very high, failures have high potential impact, false or soft alarms are quite frequent. Therefore, always a team of two is "on shift" and attentive to supervise them and assure the right manual action is taken when necessary. All the basics were well instructed by our skipper, who regularly gives advice and support. Our best safety measure is permanent attention to risks and proper individual prevention.
Autonomy:
Despite our well equipped boat, one might feel quite lost within the huge Atlantic ocean, where the endless universe displays its size exposing all the stars and planets. Careful planning and preparation tried to create maximum autonomy for three to four weeks. Once on our way, any missing item can't even be bought with money. Once we should run out of gasoline, milk or other goods, we would have to accept the consequences patiently. It would definitely not be a real problem, the only values and priorities that count here are humanity, talent and team work, and there is plenty of it all.
Adventure:
Because most people haven't done such a trip, it could be considered an adventure, which seems to require an extra portion of courage. In 1492, Christopher Columbus had used the same route to explore India. How much more adventure was this for him and his crew, as they had none of our possibilities, no map, no engines, no weather forecasts etc. They did not even know if the world was a ball or flat and prepared for a one year journey. During his trip he had so much wind and speed, that he lied to his crew about the daily miles. By the way, despite all state of the art technology, we seem not even able to break his speed record (182 seamiles/day). On our best day so far we managed 171 miles with 7.1 knots average).
So we better call our "adventure" a unique experience, which we are really enjoying in all aspects. It offers a rare opportunity to get a better understanding - as well of the great universe as of our own views - and put things and ourselves in the right perspective. Watching out for all the stars helps a lot.
Just great !
Ruedi


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Vessel Name: Libellule
Hailing Port: Switzerland
Crew: The Cottier family on s/v Libellule
Extra: Caribbean - Greenland/Iceland - NW Passage - South Pacific - Antarctic Peninsula - Svalbard
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