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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

Timing, very precise timing, will be crucial. That was underscored during the 2012 expedition through the Northwest Passage. “It is virtually impossible,” Berny said, “to have a continuous passage.” That’s because parts of the Arctic melt at different times.

Most glaciers in the Atlantic come from Greenland, Berny notes, “Some very impressive glaciers were coming down on them at one point” in the 2015 voyage.” They went into this bay with towering mountains all around them; the tide went out, they found themselves aground in mud and had to wait it out. Contributed photo.

From his home in Montreal, Berny used satellite phones and texting to communicate with the crew While they used a ham radio receiver, Berny says, “Ham radio is not usable directly, too much electronic effect in the Arctic; the Aurora Borealis is all electricity. On top of that, they can’t even use auto pilot because you are too close to the North Pole. A magnetic compass is not much help up above the Arctic Circle.”

So how to get your bearings? “On the last trip,” Bernysays, “they flew a big kite armed with a Go-Pro so they could see the boat in relation to the ice around them.”

As for the ice floes, he says, “you see them and you can get around them. But a cubic meter of ice is one metric ton of water. Sometimes you have these one ton pieces of ice floating around that are completely transparent; you can’t see them, and if you hit one the wrong way, you can damage the boat.”

Looking up and out of Exiles companionway while the aluminum boat stayed at Oriental’s Town Dock in late March. Now, visualize standing at this helm, whileabove the Arctic Circle attempting to make the Northwest Passsage just as the winter storm season starts. That is what Exiles crew hopes to do – twice – in the next year and a half.

“On one occasion they noticed a passage they wanted to go through was opening up. They rushed in and then had mechanical problems.” Berny says. “It was a race to sail back 15 miles around this ice floe to get back to the town of Resolute in extreme northern Canada.”

In Montreal, where he lives, Berny ordered parts from Paris for the repair. “They got lost in Sweden, but they finally got to Montreal.” he recalls. “I drove them to a plane in Ottawa which took them on to Resolute where they picked them up.”

Old standby Instruments for sorting out weather conditions. On the 2012 Northwest Passage, the crew deployed eye-in-the-sky-technology — a camera on a kite helped them see where treacherous ice lay in relation to their boat.

The biggest challenge for a sailboat without an icebreaker is that there’s a very limited period in which the Northwest Passage might be possible. “The last week in August through the first week in September is the only window for them.” Berny says “If anyone has seen the PBS program, The Deadliest Catch, the weather you see in that show is the nice season. The ice has melted the most in that time frame.”

But also around then, Arctic storms begin, he says. “You won’t get through after they start.”

Back in 2012, the crew of three had a choice – and history – to make. They could have jogged south for an easier time of it, but instead, they took the northernmost route becoming the first sailboat to do so.

That shaved a thousand miles off their voyage, Berny says. But it was a very close shave.

“When they were approaching McClure Strait, they were told that there was going to be a southwest wind for a short time only. They would have only a 36 hour window to get through the Strait or they would be stranded in ice.”

For this year’s passage through the ice, Exiles appears to be a potentially more resiliant boat. Exiles “The aluminum hull on Exiles is 16 mm thick. That’s quite a thick boat – completely insulated, which will be a big advantage.,” says Barney. “The other boat was fiberglass with no insulation.”

More than 10 feet longer than the boat used in 2012, Exiles also looks like it would provide more elbow room down below. “This boat has a double cabin, a fold down bed, for a single or a couple.” Berny says. “The owner’s cabin is forward, two heads, lot of light, a very airy boat. ”

Sleeping quarters.
Head and storage space.

Posted Thursday April 27, 2017 by Melinda Penkava

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