Northwest Passage Statistics, I

Arctic Tern NWP, no dates

Arctic Tern’s route through the Northwest Passage in 2014.

By way of setting some context for Arctic Tern’s accomplishment, below are a few statistics regarding her 2014 attempt and the Northwest Passage generally. (See also Northwest Passage Statistics, II)

A Hint at the Difficulty of the Northwest Passage

  • 1497: The year John Cabot, at the behest of King Henry VII, sets out on the first recorded attempt to find the Northwest Passage. Unsuccessful!
  • 1851: Northwest Passage discovered by Captain Robert McClure and crew of HMS Investigator.
  • 1906: The first successful attempt to sail the Northwest Passage. Roald Amundsen in Gjoa completes the route (Route 6, see below) in three seasons, spending three winters in the arctic.
  • 1977: The first small yacht completes the passage; Willie de Roos in Williwaw.

Northwest Passage Results for 2014

  • 30 vessels started.
  • 27 continued north of the Arctic Circle.
  • 9 completed the passage from Arctic Circle to Arctic Circle (2 from west to east; 7 from east to west).
  • 5 reported being beset in ice during their attempt.
  • 2 had to be icebreaker rescued. The particulars of the two rescued were: 36 feet aluminum/25hp singlehanded and 40 feet aluminum/46hp two persons.
  • 2014 was a near repeat of 2013 with ice choke-points requiring vessels to wait for weather and late melt season conditions to navigate in near to open ice waters. A Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker and a cruise ship were both beset for three days in heavy ice but luckily were able to self-escape after a storm moved through the area.

(Source for above: Northwest Passage 2014)

Arctic Tern’s Place in History

  • One of 9 vessels to complete the Northwest Passage in 2014.
  • Possibly the 22nd yacht to complete Route 6 (via Lancaster Sound, Prince Regent Inlet, Bellot Strait, Rae Strait, Simpson Straits, Coronation Gulf, Amundsen Gulf, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, Bering Strait. Simpson Straits is only 6.4 meters deep, and complex currents run in Bellot Strait and Simpson Straits.)
  • Possibly the 100th yacht to ever complete the passage.

(Source for last two points: official passage records are kept by R.K. Headland at the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge. For a PDF of the report through 2010, go to RCC Pilotage Foundation, Pg. 36.)

It was a great privileged to be a part of Les and Ali Parson’s successful crossing of the Northwest Passage.

One Comment on “Northwest Passage Statistics, I

  1. Pingback: Northwest Passage Statistics, II | Figure 8 Voyage

Leave a Reply