Nothing is quite so sobering as the realization that the Figure 8, this seemingly massive undertaking, this voyage that is a test of imagination (not to mention intellect, physical stamina, and funds), has already been done … and by one’s own boat!
Moli is a rare bird. Her purposeful, stout beauty would be obvious to a baby. But I never would have guessed that first time I admired her from afar, this in 2014 in Nuuk, Greenland, where she lay rafted between another cruiser and a North Sea workboat, that she had been quite so adventurous. Already she had been once through the Arctic and thrice around the Horn, and here she was poised for another go at the ice.
Her initial leap, a circumnavigation of the American continent (Stede, 1994), the passage for which she was designed and built, would have been accomplishment enough for many able craft. But following this, she had the good fortune to be acquired by Tony and Coryn Gooch, who sailed her, year after year, to many inviting (read distant, remote, cold) destinations.
Then in 2002, Tony departed for his solo, non-stop circumnavigation via the Southern Ocean.
When I began to frame-out the Figure 8, the part I couldn’t conceive was the Northwest Passage. So far away, so short a season, pack ice, etc. It seemed as foreign as the moon. But now the part of the voyage with the most mystery, nay foreboding, is the South, down in that ocean where, as the old whalers said, “…there is no god; …there is no law.”
Which is why over the months of preparation, I’ve often referred back to the passage summary (below) of Tony’s attempt, not just as a hint of what to expect, but also as a reminder that the boat is more than capable, even if her current skipper is unsure.