Predictions exceeded expectation in the NW Passage in 2017

Predictions exceeded expectation in the NW Passage in 2017

News from OCC Award of Merit winner Victor Wejer about the season's Arctic traffic conditions

By Victor Wejer - 07/09/2017

My earlier prediction exceeded any expectations this year, with 30 sail boats contesting Northwest Passage this year.

The Arctic this year was not easy as in some previous years. Starting at Nome, Alaska were 12 boats, mostly starting way much too early, and 18 started from Greenland with just a few starting early. All those early birds suffered days and days hiding in safe places.

Early arrivals from Nome experienced massive ice just past Point Barrow, Alaska. Delays in obscure places were lasting for more than a week. After ice and winds eased they all had an easy sail into the central Arctic where only one route was opened.

Those heading west mostly recognized perils of early departure and eventually just like a clock started meeting eastbounders in Bellot Strait on about 19 August.

That was not all, as some slower boats had to stop before Bellot in Larsen Sound for over 10 days waiting for occasion to pass Tasmania Islands, later called Tasmania Battle to make to Bellot Strait about 2 September. Bellot Strait divides Pacific and Atlantic waters.

A few boats were stopped entering NWP this year by Canadian Police due to heavy ice. So the list may be shorter by two. Some boats needed icebreaker or tug boats support.

Now the first boats are arriving in Greenland and Point Barrow. For most, the NWP is not finished yet. (See the attached listing.)

One the many I supported this year is Maltese flag Italian boat Solaris 72 Maxi, "Plum". When they approached me to guide them and asked "how much" I told them "I don't take any money". They are already in Greenland and invited me to sail from Halifax to Boston all expenses paid. Nice gratification.

Image: NASA Worldview “true-color” image of Victoria Strait and Larsen Sound on 10th July 2017 derived from the Terra satellite

Editor’s note: It is interesting to see OCC vessels appearing on the Fleet Map in Arctic waters.

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