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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

A Sailing Vessel Bound For The Artic
April 27, 2017
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hen Berny Peissel left Oriental’s Town Dock a few days in to spring, he turned left and pointed the S/v Exiles north. Many other sailors and boats do the same this time of year, looking to avoid the extreme heat and humidity of a southern summer.

But the boat Berny was delivering, Exiles, would be going farther north than the typical snowbird in a search of more temperate weather. Climate – and the changes to it — are what brought the boat to Oriental this spring.

S/v Exiles left Oriental a few days in to spring. If things go according to plan, the aluminum boat will spend more than a year above the Arctic Circle.

Exiles, a 43-ft Meta aluminum sailboat built in France was on its way to Boston where Berny Peissel would end his part of the trip. He was delivering the boat for his son, Nicolas who bought it to sail through the Northwest Passage. Again.

Nicolas Peissel made news – and records – 5 years ago when he and two others sailed another sailboat across the NW Passage. “Warming global temperatures and melting polar ice caps,” the Los Angeles Times reported in September, 2012, “have helped a trio of explorers go where few men have gone before.”

Nicolas Peissel, center, with his cousin, Morgan Peissel, left, and Edvin Buregren, in 2012 on their passage through ice. The boat was a Hallberg-Rassy Monsun. Contributed photo.

While big freighters and icebreakers have pushed through the ice pack, the three sailors were the first to take a humble fiberglass sailboat – a Hallberg-Rassy, just under 31 feet long – through the McClure Strait, at the far northern part of the Northwest Passage.

That strait in far northern Canada had historically been packed with ice which would make it a tough go for a sailboat. But that’s been changing and that is what the three – Nicolas Peissel of Canada, his American cousin, Morgan Peissel and a fellow adventurer, Edvin Buregren of Sweden wanted to show. As the LA Times reported, they “set out on the quest to bring awareness of the changing climate that has radically reshaped the planet’s North Pole.”

Northwest Passage options above the Arctic circle. Contributed photo.

Now, Nicolas Peissel wants to make another trip across the most northern of the possible Northwest Passages. Berny Peissel says his son spent about a year looking for the right boat for this trip, before finding Exiles in Italy.

“He bought this one the 1st of November and sailed it to the Canary Islands. His cousin, Morgan sailed it across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and on to Florida. I picked it up in Florida. I’ll deliver it to Boston where it will be outfitted for his second passage through the ice.”

Barney Peissel in the cabin of Exiles which will be his son Nicolas’s home above the Arctic Circle this summer,

Berny Peissel was making the final leg of the delivery because NIcolas was busy working in Africa for Doctors Without Borders. “He leads different crews for that organization.” Berny said in late March, when Nicolas was in South Sudan. “A few weeks back, the UN declared South Sudan was in famine and he was the one who got the news to the UN.”

“Last year he was in Yemen. Before that, he was in the Central Africa Republic. He does a lot of work in nations that are at war. He also coordinated aid teams in the aftermath of a tsunami.”

Exiles at Oriental’s Town Dock in March.

Transitioning from hot spots to cold ones that are warming up, Nicolas will meet the boat in Boston to prepare it for this trip. There’s an aluminum dodger ready to be installed, along with solar panels and a wind generator. (The other boat had solar panels but no wind generator.)

It should make for a more comfortable – and better — vessel for this next passage. As Berny peisselnotes, “The aluminum hull on Exiles is 16 mm thick; that’s quite a thick boat, completely insulated, which will be a big advantage. The fiber glass boat had no insulation.”

Berny Peissel aboard Exiles.

In June, Berny says, his son will set out of Exiles for Newfoundland, the departure point for the final destination, Ulukhatuok, a village on the Beaufort Sea some 100 miles from Canada’s border with Alaska. This is well above the Arctic Circle and the plan is to take the northernmost of the possible Northwest Passages across Canada.

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Posted Thursday April 27, 2017 by Melinda Penkava

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