Monday, September 14, 2009

Back from the Ice

Having returned from the "Summer of Cold" on the Northwest Passage, I am in the process of editing my journal, sorting the thousands of photographs and attempting to put the trip into perspective.

This year all but one of the ten vessels (ten that we know about) attempting the Passage completed their goal. No vessels were damaged, no crew members injured, no "Mayday" calls were made and no one "found themselves passengers after the coast guard had to pluck them off boats hopelessly stranded in ice" as was recently reported in an article by the Canadian Press.

The crew of the vessel that did not complete the trip this year will return next year to continue the journey. That they are not completing the trip this year is the result of, not drama, but schedule delays.

Much was made in the blogosphere of the ice encountered by the vessels in 2009. "[That several vessels were at times beset by ice] is a sure sign that climate change is not occurring, proving global warming is a hoax" or "several boats were not properly prepared for the ice." That kind of thing.

What is remarkable is that ordinary ocean going pleasurecraft can now make the Northwest Passage in a single season. Sure it's a bit dangerous.  The ice is still there. To sail the Passage is still a calculated risk. But with planning and care it can now be done.

And that is the point.

It was not too long ago that the only "properly prepared" vessel for the Northwest Passage was an icebreaker.  It's only in the last few years that pleasurecraft, even minimally crewed, fiberglass, unsponsored boats-without-a-cause like Fiona have been able to complete the trip.

I will leave it to scientists to supply the facts and the debaters to hash out why that is possible.

[For more news of Fiona's successful 2009 completion of the Northwest Passage, including the latest position on its continued trip around North America, visit Eric Forsyth's site at]


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