Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tuesday, August 21 Cambridge Bay, Northwest Territories (Nunavut), Canada

Cloud Nine arrived in the harbor and actually got tied up to the end of the pier in good shape at 0800 this morning. Had some tough conditions the last 24 hours with rough seas and headwinds. No ice though. Great, calm harbor even in the heavy air and we will enjoy our time here for a couple day before departure on the long passage.

Cambridge Bay is another milestone. Here we have passed the last great danger of pack ice in the Northwest Passage which could block us and now we "only" have about 3000 miles of high latitude sailing in the Beaufort Sea, Chuckchi Sea, Bering Strait, and Bering Sea to get to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where we will surely enjoy a few cold ones with the "Deadliest Catch" crab boats. Looks like we are going to make it this time. Third time will be a charm for Cloud Nine.

The northern peoples and their cultures in the communities here are fascinating. They are heading out now on long fishing and hunting expeditions to gather food and materials from the bush for their winter survival. Although using all the same technologies as the rest of us, there is also a big push to maintain traditional ways and maintain control over their lands. There is huge energy and mineral potential being unlocked with the warming of the north and their is a race on for control of these resources. The native people believe they have rights to this land. Who could argue. But many other countries are arguing that Canada does not even control the resources of the Arctic, and it will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the future.

Thank you to those again who have helped me along in this process. Next update may be from Alaska, and a rare and successful completion of the Northwest Passage by an American sailboat.

Friday, August 17, 2007

August 17th, Gjoa Haven, NW Territories (Nunavut)

We have been on Raold Amundsen's trail now for many years, but finally arrived at his wintering harbor of two years (1903-04) during his successful Northwest Passage attempt. Gjoa Haven represents a milestone for us on Cloud Nine. This is our 30th day and we have sailed over 3000 miles during this period. The Peel Sound and Franklin Strait areas have blocked Cloud Nine's previous attempts. This time we sailed south right through almost ice-free. We have had amazing weather and conditions to acheive our goal. Success looks very good at this point; we expect to make it and spirits are high.

It is with mixed feelings, however, that I write this, noting that the Northwest Passage is virtually ice-free. Although good for our attempt, it is not a good indicator for the planet. We are really just a mobile piece of data in the climate change equation. We are witnessing history in the making in the Arctic. However any of you feel about the issue, it is undeniably taking place and the peoples of these high latitudes are feeling the changes first and rapidly. We are utterly shocked at the lack of overall ice coverage this year up north.

We next move on to Cambidge Bay from here to repair our radar, reprovision and prepare for a very long passage over the top of Alaska in unforgiving seas.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tuesday, August 14th "Icebergs and Radar Problems"

News from Cloud Nine's Captain, Roger Swanson:

We are getting on well, but still having radar problems. We fixed the
antenna problem, but now it won't pick up targets. Fortunately it
worked crossing Baffin Bay where we had fog all the way with icebergs, but
it died yesterday. Some of the icebergs show up on radar, but by no
means all of them so we must be very careful. I'm thinking about
ordering a whole new radar and have it shipped to Cambridge Bay. The problem
is to try to find one in Canada to avoid customs delays.

We expect to reach Peel Sound in the morning and head south. Other
than the fog, weather has been good, very little strong winds. Shortly
after entering Lancaster Sound weather cleared and the icebergs have been
thinning out, practically none now. More later.