In a recent post (here) I sketched out 2014 Northwest Passage Stats and where I thought Arctic Tern fit in.
Here are a few more data points, this time focused on our particular experience. (What follows is from my log and is presented here for interest’s sake only.)
Mileages and Days
The course through the Northwest Passage is remarkably long, especially if one considers the miles to the Arctic Circle from home waters and the additional miles to “safe” water below it. Add another 2500 miles to Arctic Tern’s season from her start in Lewisport, Newfoundland to her projected winter quarters in SE Alaska, and you can see that in distance alone–not counting the difficulties of weather, pilotage, shortness of season–the passage requires a high degree of commitment.
Though Bellot is not the actual midpoint of the course, it acted, for us, as a threshold such that we tended to think of our passage as before Bellot and after Bellot. For example, almost all our ice encounters in 2014 were at and before Bellot, as was all the time we spent waiting for ice to clear.
In hindsight the time we spent up close and personal with pack-ice seems quite small. According to my records we had 10 specific ice encounters, which I define here as contact with floe or floe whose proximity required evasive action. I have not tallied work with icebergs in Greenland as they could be approached more or less on our terms, and they were only of any density in Disko Bay and near Upernavik.
In order of appearance:
Wind Force (wind blew from every conceivable direction except up; direction is not summarized here).
Given the generally light or contrary winds and the requirement to make miles when we could, we motor-sailed or motored 70+% of the time and replenished fuel supplies in:
The longest legs were Arctic Bay to Cambridge Bay (677 miles) and Tuk to Nome (1061 miles). We had our best winds between Tuk and Nome, motored the least during this leg, and arrived in Nome with much of our fuel aboard.