Bookmark and Share
No Ice
Sat Aug 27 10:01:00 EDT 2011, Dolphin and Union Strait

I have been very surprised by the lack of ice this year (not that I'm complaining--the idea of getting stuck in the ice has absolutely no appeal). We have seen hardly any ice since Lancaster Sound. The long range forecasts for this year indicated a slightly later breakup than last year, not nearly so much ice free water. I suppose it is only a difference of a few degrees in average temperature for a few weeks that results in suddenly there being so little ice, and that small a temperature difference being difficult to forecast.

The lack of ice makes for pleasant sailing (at times).

Sun Sep 11 17:00:03 EDT 2011 | Timothy Hudson
Issuma appears to have arrived in Port Clarence, AK, on Sept 8 -- although some of the date stamps from email I've received seem a bit off. Regardless, that's great news -- particularly considering what I've heard about weather reports from that region.
Sun Sep 11 22:26:07 EDT 2011 | George Conk
Glad to hear your report, Richard.
I looked too cursorily at the site - saw the old schooner post and figured you were staying in Cambridge Bay! But now I see Tim's posts - and your awesome progress. Well done!
Old Schooner
Sat Aug 27 10:01:00 EDT 2011, Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada

This was once a schooner, but the main mast was removed when the engine was put in. It was towed to Cambridge Bay from Tuktoyaktuk. One of the builders of the church bought the vessel, but was stationed elsewhere when it arrived, and it was never used.

Sat Aug 27 14:16:24 EDT 2011 | george ray
Looks to be shallow draft? centerboard???
Sun Aug 28 9:56:19 EDT 2011 | George Conk
You asked if Amundsen's boat might have been a schooner. The only reference I found was in Arctic Passages by John Bockstoce who refers to it as a 47 ton herring sloop.
Sun Aug 28 16:31:26 EDT 2011 | Amos
Wow. You're only about 2500 sea miles from crossing the line between the Bering Sea/Bristol Bay into the Gulf of Alaska (roughly). Chewing nails!
Wed Aug 31 18:15:34 EDT 2011 | Timothy Hudson
Today I got an email from the Canadian Coast Guard Inuvik MCTS/VFA saying his satellite phone is non-functional (his radio must be fine, since they contacted me). They gave the following location, which I cannot find with latitude and longitude -- perhaps some more knowledgeable seafarers watching the blog will know how the characters should be listed to find where he is today. This is what was sent as his current location "At 311415MDT the vessel was at Lat: 6952N Long: 13315W".... any help appreciated. Quite a voyage!
Wed Aug 31 18:28:44 EDT 2011 | Timothy Hudson
Seems I needed to spend a little more quality time figuring out the latitude/longitude syntax of what I was emailed by the Coast Guard -- hopefully my caveman translation is at least fairly close (although it appears to be in the Mckenzie River Delta, so clearly I've got something wrong) . Not too far from scenic Tuktoyaktuk, NWT --
+69° 5' 2.00", -133° 1' 5.00"
Thu Sep 1 8:27:55 EDT 2011 | Amos
THanks, Tim. You can plot those values in Google Earth to see exactly wherer they indicate. I am glad to know he's communicating, even though I miss his great travelogue posts.
Thu Sep 1 8:33:10 EDT 2011 | Blaine Benson
Timothy -
I'm guessing it's +69 52' , -133 15', not far from where you had it. Hope the Sat phone gets fixed so more updates can come through. Amazing journey - looks like only a few more days to Alaska!
Fri Sep 2 8:29:11 EDT 2011 | Amos
Hoping the Aleutians quake just reported did not interfere with RIchard's progress. Fingers crossed for his safe and successful passage Beuafort==>Bering==>Pacific!
Sat Sep 3 14:24:51 EDT 2011 | Timothy Hudson
One additional bit I had not specified in the email from Inuvik MCTS/VFA -- the Coast Guard email I got on Aug 31 that will be of interest to many, it seems -- "he expected that the next port would be either Nome or Dutch Harbour, AK and the ETA is appprox. 3 weeks." Quite a trip.

Best Regards,

Sat Sep 3 17:23:50 EDT 2011 | Amos
He will be acing winds up to 25 knots and temps down into the freezing area even in September. I hope that's the worst it gets. He's doing something very daring completing the Passage and I am just gobsmacked with joy to see him succeed at it!! I can't wait until the next sighting. What a rover!!
Sun Sep 4 17:53:21 EDT 2011 | Brian Lumley
Looking good Richard your well on your way to making it. Congratulations
Mon Sep 5 10:09:22 EDT 2011 | Timothy Hudson
For those interested -- I will keep updating his position as I get news (infrequent). They'll be comments on this post which is the only place I can figure will be most prominent.

The Barrow Communications Centre (Chukchi Sea), Inupiat Communicator kindly emailed me today (Sept 5) advising that he was unable to anchor in Barrow AK, and is now heading to Dutch Harbor which seems to be in the middle of the pacific in the Aleutians. Looks to me almost as close to Japan as Vancouver! He estimated his arrival there to be roughly two weeks.

I don't have Lat/Long, but both Barrow AK and Dutch Harbor AK can be located with Google Maps.

Thanks again to the Barrow Communications Centre for the update!
Mon Sep 5 13:08:17 EDT 2011 | Amos
Bravo to Richard for successfully making the Northwest Passage. Congratulations!

I hate to think what the weather is going to be like along the Aleutians in September.
Mon Sep 5 13:11:14 EDT 2011 | Amos
Forecasts for Dutch Harbor region are winds from 20 to as high as 60 mph gusts, temperatures in low 40s.
Mon Sep 5 13:23:41 EDT 2011 | Amos
Barrow--the northernmost city in the US-is located at 71°17′44″N 156°45′59″W. . Dutch Harbor is fairly close to the first break in the Alaska Peninsula and probably the nearest major harbor nearby. So he has to go that far west to cross the end of the peninsula and gain the Pacific Ocean.
Wed Sep 7 6:05:20 EDT 2011 | Don Proctor
Well, congratulations to Richard and crew for making it through. I'm envious. Seemed like a quick passage, at least from down here. All the best for the rest of the journey.
Wed Sep 7 20:34:17 EDT 2011 | Steve
Glad to hear your position, Richard.
Best wishes,
Steve & Sini
BTW, thanks, Timothy.
Thu Sep 8 11:25:36 EDT 2011 | Amos
"A storm developing early Friday in the Chukchi Sea will cause strong southwest winds to develop Friday over the Bering and
chukchi seas. The southwest winds will occur over a long fetch length which will cause sea levels to rise a foot above normal
along the Arctic coast of Alaska during the day Friday."

Fingers crossed for a safe transit.

Sat Sep 10 19:00:45 EDT 2011 | george ray
Glad to hear a position report... GO ISSUMA, be safe!!
Sat Sep 10 19:55:08 EDT 2011 | Amos
He must be near the Diomeda islands by now. Forecast for those parts:

Tonight...Cloudy. Scattered rain showers. Patchy fog. Lows 40 to 45. Southwest winds 15 to 30 mph.

Sunday...Cloudy. Scattered rain showers in the morning. Patchy fog. Highs around 50. South winds 15 to 30 mph.

So it looks not too bad. They had a high surf advisory earlier today.

Rooting for you, Richard!
Old Church
Fri Aug 26 10:01:00 EDT 2011, Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada

Ruins of the first Catholic Church in Cambridge Bay, built with rocks, seal oil and clay.

Sat Aug 27 5:07:01 EDT 2011 | Brian
Not to be picky, but do you mean 'seal oil and sand' to make the mortar, Clay seems to be in short supply up that way.
Almost through the NWP too, quite the feat.
Cruise Ships Discover Cambridge Bay
Thu Aug 25 10:01:00 EDT 2011, Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada

I was surprised by the number of cruise ships visiting Cambridge Bay. There were three on one day when we were there (I'm not sure whether the one on the right is a cruise ship or a yacht, but there was another big cruise ship anchored there earlier in the day). There aren't always that many cruise ships, but the hamlet does a very good job of promoting tourism. They have a great visitors center/museum, and everyone is pleasant.

Sat Aug 27 6:48:01 EDT 2011 | yann
where have you to go to be quiet? it seems nearly impossible now!
did you see narwhals, belugas, whales?
Muskox Hides
Wed Aug 24 10:01:00 EDT 2011, Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada

Jordan and Lin standing on a sledge, surrounded by drying muskox hides. We asked around, but didn't really ever find out what the hides are used for after they are dried.

Cambridge Bay is a large hamlet in Arctic Canada, population about 1800. It was named after the Duke of Cambridge by Warren Dease and Thomas Simpson of the Hudson's bay Company in 1839. The area had been an important Inuit camp-site for many years because it had plentiful caribou, seal, fish and birds. The permanent settlement was established in 1955 when a DEW (Distant Early Warning--a line of radar stations setup in northern Canada during the Cold War) line station was put there. It is now an Arctic adminstration, transportation, tourism and supply center.

We cleared into Canada in Cambridge Bay with the assistance of the RCMP (police), who were extremely helpful and hospitable. In fact, everyone in Cambridge Bay was pleasant and helpful.

We arrived too late in the year to buy any musxkox or caribou meat (next harvest starts soon) at the store, but did try the muskox burgers in the hotel, which were very good.

Thu Aug 25 4:24:13 EDT 2011 | george ray
On google earth the passage heading west looks to be full of ice ?? I don't suppose that google earth is a good way to see the current sea ice conditions.
Thu Aug 25 8:56:49 EDT 2011 | Amos
George is quite right!

Richard, how far west do you intend to go? All the way to the gulf of Alaska? Down the West Coast? It's exciting watching your progress (from an armchair) :D!
Thu Aug 25 11:10:48 EDT 2011 | Tony Gooch
Well doe to the tree of you. To reach Cambridge is very exciting. Half way there.
I'm in Oban, SCotland laying Taonui up for the winterr. I'll be back in Victoria in a week. Looking forward to welcoming you to Victoria.
Fair winds
Fri Aug 26 21:01:53 EDT 2011 | Richard Hudson
Thanks for the comments, gentlemen.

I think Google Earth tends to be several weeks or months behind, so yes, they are not a good way to look at ice concentrations. When i'm on the internet, I look at Environment Canada's website to see their ice charts.

The areas of the NW Passage that I have so far been through have been shockingly free of ice. I paid a lot of attention to the seasonal and 30-day ice forecasts and they did not indicate this little ice.

Tony, thanks, I understand you had a quick and windy trip from Labrador to Scotland. Glad to hear it went well and look forward to meeting up with you later.
Where to Stop
Mon Aug 22 10:01:00 EDT 2011, Nunavut

George asked a while back about how we were deciding where to stop. At the time, I was pushing hard to get up the Greenland coast so that if ice forecasts for Canada were good, we would have the opportunity to head towards northern Canada from northern Greenland (there is a warm ocean current going up the west side of Greenland, and a cold current going down the NE side of Canada, so if you want to get to the north of Canada by sailboat, it is best to go there via the west coast of Greenland). So my priorities were to make as few stops as possible in the interests of keeping moving during the short time we had. It was extremely tempting to go into Disko Bay, which is full of icebergs, just to see the spectacle, but we sailed by without stopping because we didn't have time.

When deciding where to stop, we look at things like the expected weather, to see if there will be shelter from it, the possible weather, to see under what conditions we'd need to leave, how complicated the navigation is, can we sail in or do we have to motor, is there likely space to anchor or tie up, if there is a settlement there, what facilities (ie water, fuel, groceries) are there, and what interesting things are there. How complicated the navigation is means things like how many shallow areas/rocks need to be avoided and how difficult are they to identify and avoid and how well are the charts likely to agree with the GPS positions--always something to consider in places not frequently travelled.

To give an example of choosing a stop, I really wanted to visit Gjoa Haven. This settlement is named after Roald Amundsen's Gjoa (the first vessel to go thru the Northwest Passage), which spent two winters in what one of the crew called "the finest little harbor in the world", so there is a lot of historical interest in going there. There is a community in Gjoa Haven to visit, and we could clear customs, buy fuel (via jerrycans) and food, and have a safe place to leave the boat while we were ashore. Gjoa Haven is also along the best-travelled route through the Northwest Passage, as the shallow waters stop the icebergs, so the waters that need to be sailed to get to Gjoa Haven tend to be free of ice earlier.

As we sailed towards Gjoa Haven, a problem became apparant about 100 miles away. The wind was shifting, and it was now dead to windward that we would have to sail for about 50 miles to get through James Ross Strait. The picture shows a portion of the chart for that area. Depths are marked in fathoms (a fathom is six feet), and there are only depths marked in a small area--the rest--white space--has not been surveyed, and is full of unmarked shallow areas. So we were looking at beating dead to windward through a relatively narrow channel. While that alone is not a big problem, the furler for the (yankee) jib had failed, so sailing to windward was more difficult than usual.

So we reluctantly bypassed James Ross Strait and our planned stop at Gjoa Haven, and sailed via Victoria Strait instead.

Wed Aug 24 6:02:49 EDT 2011 | george ray
How are the roller furling systems holding up? Seems you have had one or two mechanical problems along with the inner stay failure. Are they all the new ProFurls or do you still have some of the original french design furriers that were difficult to get parts for. Congratulations one getting by with what you have and making it work !!!!
Fri Aug 26 20:53:29 EDT 2011 | Richard Hudson
I replaced one of the old Sarma furlers with a Facnor furler. It is holding up ok, my only problem with it was when I needed to take it off to shorten the stay last year (after shortening the mast) in Labrador, and I could not get one of the Allen head bolts holding it together off. I ended up drilling out the aluminum drum and replaced the allen head bolt with a bolt I made from threaded rod and nuts.

The yankee jib uses the old Sarma furler. The drum was modified to take carbon-steel DIN bearings and seals. They work ok for a while (couple of years), then fail and need to be replaced. I now have two spare drums, it was just a matter of getting somewhere out of the wind where I could disconnect the jibstay and remove the old drum. It was complicated by the fact that I'd used grease on the threads of that furler instead of lanolin (I couldn't find any lanolin in Argentina, where I last put it together), so it took some soaking with PB Blaster to get the bolts out. After replacing the drum, and waiting for light winds to put the sail back on, it is working well again.
Sun Aug 21 12:44:02 EDT 2011, Victoria Strait

We often sail in the fog. I guess this is really a rainbow obscured by fog.

Sun Aug 21 13:37:06 EDT 2011 | george ray
The conditions are very challenging. Can you imagine navigating these places without benefit of GPS? Sextant, compass, ded reckoning, pelorus, sun-stone, tide and current tables, etc? Oh bye the way, have you been using a sunstone?
Sun Aug 21 14:02:46 EDT 2011 | Richard Hudson
George, yes, navigation is so much easier with GPS and radar and depthsounders.

Knowing the compass would not work for much of the time, I wanted to inscribe a kind of pelorus on the doghouse top for taking bearings for fixes, but never got around to it. The other requirement for taking bearings for fixes is a three-arm protractor (or at least it makes plotting them much easier, though I suppose one could use a protractor and cut a sheet of paper at the right angle for a two-point fix), which I don't think anyone sells anymore and is another thing I didn't get around to making beforehand.

I have not been using a sunstone (as long as the GPSes work, nothing compares to them for accuracy :) ).
Sun Aug 21 19:53:58 EDT 2011 | Amos
If you have a gyro compass, you can lock your relative bearing at a verbal signal while someone marks the heading, and transfer the bearing plus the heading. But you need a non-mag way to determine your heading int he first place!!
Tue Aug 23 12:12:51 EDT 2011 | brian
The sv Andante and Hannah are at dock in Nain. Heading south after summer in Labrador waters as far north as Nachvak Fjord. Folks on Andante said they ran across you in Cartwright earlier this year.
On The Radar
Sat Aug 20 10:01:00 EDT 2011, Franklin Strait

A few days ago, sailing down Franklin Strait, we overheard a call from Canadian Patrol Aircraft 102 to two vessels by name. From the name, I knew one vessel was a sailboat, its name was on the transom, which was vertical, and the letters weren't all that big, so I thought it would be difficult to read that name from an airplane. I also knew that sailboat had an AIS transmitter (this transmits vessel name, course, speed and position automatically, for collision avoidance), so figured the plane was decoding the AIS transmission--otherwise, they would have called the vessel by position, not by name.

About twenty minutes later, I heard a plane. There were enough clouds in the sky that I did not think a plane would see a boat, but within a few seconds, a low-flying plane that looked to be a military Hercules flew by about 100m away (too fast to get a good blog pic). Clearly they had picked us up on radar (we have no AIS transmitter, and the steel deck would make a good radar target). About 30 seconds later, Canadian Patrol Aircraft 102 called us on the VHF by name. I thought they had impressive cameras to be able to take pictures of the boat that were clear enough--at the speed they were going--to be able to read the name on the side of the hull. They said they were on a routine patrol, and wanted to know Vessel Name, Country, Home Port, # of people aboard, Last Port, Next Port and Owners Name. I gave them all the information and they continued on their way.

Today, in Victoria Strait (the blog is a bit behind), in somewhat foggy conditions, the same plane announced it was conduting a routine patrol and flew over us. They were farther away this time (a good idea in fog!), and took a few minutes before calling us by our position. We replied, same information as before, and they continued on their way.

We have heard nothing else on the VHF since leaving Greenland.

Sun Aug 21 15:31:15 EDT 2011 | Timothy
Apparently there is a big military exercise in nearby Resolute for the past few days and an anticipated visit by the Canadian Prime Minister, which is likely cancelled after the tragic plane crash of a flight from Yellowknife to Resolute which, last I heard, had 3 surviving passengers from the 12 aboard. Probably mote activity than the area has had for a ling while. Maybe everyone was coming for a glimpse of the historic voyage of Issuma.
Bellot Strait
Fri Aug 19 10:02:00 EDT 2011, Bellot Strait

Bellot Strait is an 18 mile long passage between Prince Regent Inlet and Peel Sound. It was named after Lieutenant Bellot of the French Navy who came across it in 1852. It has a difficult reputation due to its fast tidal currents and a rock that is awash (so hard to see) near the eastern end of it. While there was no ice when we passed, Bellot Strait has a reputation for quickly jamming with ice. The Sailing Directions note: "The tidal streams run with great strength through Bellot Strait...In the vicinity of Magpie Rock, the currents are highly variable; localised 7-8 knot westerly currents have been reported on the north side of the channel at the same time that equally strong easterly currents were flowing on the south side. Mariners should exercise extreme caution in this area."

There is a range (two markers on shore, if you keep the boat in line with the two markers, you know what course you are on, despite not knowing how the currents are pushing you around) which the Sailing Directions mention as in need of paint in 1977 (no updates since then--this is not a frequently-travelled route). The ranges were visible enough (we had good visibility), and we entered the strait, intending to pass Magpie Rock (the real danger) just before the current turned and started going in our direction (so we would pass slowly, with more control). The chart notes that the current turns there about two hours before High Water at nearby Fort Ross.

To figure out when the current would turn (ie, when was High Water at Fort Ross), we had three methods of getting tide information, the Canadian Tide & Current Tables for the Arctic, NOAA's Tide Tables for East Coast of North & South America, and wxtide32, the free tidal calculation software program. The three methods of determining the tide resulted in three answers, differing by as much as two hours :). We left in time to be early, so no matter which source of tidal information was correct, by slowing down as necessary, we could arrive on time. Of the three methods we used to figure the tides, the free software program came up with what seemed the closest result.


Thanks all for the comments and greetings. I've not heard of the Mars on Earth Project (when we get to a town where we can get internet access, I'll look into it).

Sat Aug 20 2:12:30 EDT 2011 | yann
Hello Richard, your "current position " is wrong, you were in Bellot strait, when in Barrow strait on the chart! As long as you know where you are, everything is OK
Sun Aug 21 14:04:32 EDT 2011 | Richard Hudson
The coordinates look correct to me, but yes, the position on the map is wrong. Oh, well, no time to investigate further.
Magnetic North Pole
Fri Aug 19 10:01:00 EDT 2011, Magnetic North Pole

As a followup to the post about Magnetic Compass Useless, here is the location of the Magnetic North Pole, so you should be able to click on the blog map to see where it is.

Latitude:N 82° 17' 60" Longitude:W 113° 24' 0"

Magnetic North Pole position supplied by Douglas Pohl of

Newer ]  |  [ Older ]


Powered by SailBlogs