Back from Sailing the Northwest Passage! [7th Dec 11]
Well THAT WAS EXCITING! Jess and I've just returned home after embarking alone upon our perilous journey to do what some of the greatest explorers of all time and 160 years of navy expeditions could not - sail through the fabled Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic - thanks largely to Global Warming. Enduring ferocious gales, sea sickness, huge seas, unmarked rocks and fending off icebergs aboard our tiny 29 foot wood and fiberglass yacht ‘Teleport’, we spent the last three months sailing up Canada’s East coast, across to Greenland, and then winding our way West through the tangled mess of arctic islands above Canada – the first junk-rigged yacht ever to do so.
Jess - who'd never been sailing before, was absolutely amazing, learning super fast, and holding her own, despite being majorly seasick for days.
We ended our 3,500 mile adventure in a small arctic community called Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island (the same island Clark and I walked across in 2005 and further in 2008), where we lifted Teleport into a wooden cradle we built to hold her over the bitter winter. When the arctic ocean melts again next summer, we'll fly back and continue our voyage onwards through the rest of the passage to Alaska, then across to Siberia / Russia, down to Japan and eventually home to Australia. We are in no hurry however, our goal is to sail home as slowly as possible, via the most amazing places we can think of.
While Greenland’s coast was filled with icebergs – sometime so dense that we had to fend off hunks of ice with a pole as we passed, the Northwest Passage itself was surprisingly largely ice-free. This year the arctic sea ice has receded to the second lowest levels on record – making for a slightly safer trip through the largely uncharted waters, but also proving a daunting indication of the very real effects of global warming.
We were both constantly amazed by the photographic opportunities that presented themselves, including packs of Killer Whales investigating our yacht, numerous polar bears on shore, and stunning scenery. One of our GoPro cameras was even chewed and broken by a polar bear!
We were sailing so close to the North magnetic pole that our navigation charts bore labels saying “Magnetic Compass Useless”.
As some of you would know, we bought Teleport cheaply and sight-unseen in Canada in 2008, and spent the next few years saving up to fly over last year to spend the summer fixing it up - ripping out the rotten wood, re-doing the deck, fixing the keel and rebuilding the interior ready for this year’s expedition.
Take a look at www.YachtTeleport.com for photos and videos etc. It was a pretty amazing experience. When we got back we were interviewed by Ch9's TODAY SHOW on national TV - take a look at the interview embedded below: