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Old 08-08-2013, 11:48   #1
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Northwest Passage - Ice 2013

I am helping a couple boats thru the NWP with weather and ice info, as I do most years.

2013 will be a rather more difficult year than the previous couple.

It was quite cold last winter in the Canadian arctic, generating thicker 1st year ice than in recent years.

Here is a comparison to recent years . . . you can see we are rather higher than the past three years, still on the low side (but within the 2 sigma band) compared to the past 30 years.

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And here is the ice chart for today from the key choke point (just before Cambridge bay). You can see we still have a 9/10's choke. In the years before the past 3 this area typically opened up around august 20th, with a clear lead along the eastern shore, for a couple weeks. This looks like what may happen this year. That's rather dramatically different than last summer when the whole area was essentially ice free for 2 months.

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It's also been a bit stormy up there this summer.
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Old 08-08-2013, 12:09   #2
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Hi Evans,

Which direction do most boats travel and where do they typically wait for the ice to open up?
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Old 08-08-2013, 12:40   #3
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Re: Northwest Passage - Ice 2013

I guess the sailboat Teleport made it through OK?

Teleport Expeditions - Chris Bray & Jess Taunton
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Old 08-08-2013, 13:49   #4
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Re: Northwest Passage - Ice 2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Lefebvre View Post
Hi Evans,

Which direction do most boats travel and where do they typically wait for the ice to open up?
They go both ways (e-w and w-e), there are pros and cons of both ways. Resolute and pond inlet are the two biggest waiting places to the east. From the West, if you have your timing right, usually you can make it thru to and wait at Cambridge bay for the choke point to open.

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I guess the sailboat Teleport made it through OK?

Teleport Expeditions - Chris Bray & Jess Taunton
We met them in Nova Scota when they were starting out - lovely young couple, funky boat. Yes, they were lucky to have two excellent (low) ice years, and exited last summer which was the record all time low ice year.
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Old 08-08-2013, 14:28   #5
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Re: Northwest Passage - Ice 2013

Thanks for the thread Evans.
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Old 08-08-2013, 23:34   #6
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Re: Northwest Passage - Ice 2013

Teleport is still on it's journey, they just released this up-date ...
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Old 09-08-2013, 05:48   #7
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Re: Northwest Passage - Ice 2013

^^ if you look at the date at 0:06 in that video you will see the sailing is from 2012. They arrived in Nome Alaska (Which completed their NWP) summer last year.


For me the interesting cruising question about this year's ice, is whether it signals a return to the roughly 2000-2008 sort of conditions, or if it's just a one year anomaly and next year will be back to the 2008-2012 very low ice conditions. Jimmy Cornell is running a round the world rally next year with an optional leg thru the NWP and I understand about a half dozen of his boats planned the NWP leg.

The trend in arctic ice has been very steadily down (graph here), so if I had to guess, I would think this was a one year anomaly. But we shall see.
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Old 11-08-2013, 09:14   #8
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Re: Northwest Passage - Ice 2013

Ice chart for this week at the approaches to Resolute - where the boats are waiting. You can see a 4/10 - 9/10 blocks just to the south. 1/10 is the max for 'comfortable navigation' and 3/10 is usually the max a yacht can push thru.

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And further south, the choke point that usually clears last. Usually a lead opens up along the eastern shore first, and that might be happening. The Canadian ice service predict it will be open the 3rd week of august.
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And a comparison of this weeks ice cover to the same week in prior years.

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Old 15-08-2013, 15:29   #9
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Re: Northwest Passage - Ice 2013

Ice block just south of Resolute still 4-6/10, but no longer 9/10 and getting narrower. Should be gone by next week.
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Ice plug further south (to gjoa haven & Cambridge bay) is still 9/10 ice, but has also gotten much smaller and most of the channel now has a clear lead. Should also be gone by next week.
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Old 15-08-2013, 15:44   #10
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Re: Northwest Passage - Ice 2013

Hello Evans,

Thanks for this very interesting info.

I have a couple of questions.

How much fuel range under power is necessary for "comfortable" transits of the NWP? Are winds reliable enough to make long fuel range unecessary?

Something tells me that when a lead in the ice opens up there will be a strong tendency to motor through as quick as possible. Is that generally the way it works? Or are people comfortable waiting in "safe" anchorages for favorable winds?

Thanks in advance,

Steve
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Old 15-08-2013, 16:26   #11
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Re: Northwest Passage - Ice 2013

You should check out the videos from the Teleport Yacht, they had large bladders (which leaked), of diesel. Not many gas stations along the way!

I would love to do this trip but not in a Hunter 28!
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Old 15-08-2013, 16:44   #12
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Re: Northwest Passage - Ice 2013

Yes - and they (Teleport and crew) are just now getting started on the 2013 version of their trip, only in reverse. Last post on their site indicated they should be in Nome by now, getting ready to do the W-E tour of the top of the world.

Guess I could put the link in here ...

Teleport Yacht
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Old 15-08-2013, 18:40   #13
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Re: Northwest Passage - Ice 2013

I'm totally impressed with that Teleport journey. what an awesome cruise. Great boat and size; great rig; great cause; great sailing; and a perfect time in life to do it.
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Old 15-08-2013, 20:02   #14
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Re: Northwest Passage - Ice 2013

Hard question (s) both because it depends so much on the skipper, and the ice situation is so variable year to year.

All sorts of sail boats have now done the NWP, including some with very little fuel. So, it is possible, particularly on 'good' ice years, to take the time to sail. But the boats that have the fuel tankage do tend to motor quite a bit - several in fact 85% of the time.

It looked last year like the declining ice was a steady and reliable trend, so each year there was less ice and more time and flexibility to sail. But this year is a bit back to the old more squeezed schedule, and it makes the coming future years more difficult to predict.

So, after giving you the waffling answer of 'it depends on the skipper and the ice' . . . . I think I personally would want a 750nm fuel range. There is usually decent breeze, but that would give you the flexibility to push through the tightest points.

There are fewer "safe anchorages" than you might expect - although that depends quite a bit on draft and the French flat bottom lifting keel boats have more alternatives. It's not hard for the ice to trap you in one, so you tend to go for it, as far as you can, when the ice is clear.

These are the refueling options along the way . . . .

Pond Inlet- fill jerry cans and transport by dinghy from beach (good weather only)

Resolute - fill jerry cans and transport by dinghy from beach

Diesel may also be available at Talloyoak/Spence Bay - details not known, but
Berrimilla was advised that

this was a possible refuelling point between Resolute and Gjoa Haven, south of Bellot Strait.

Gjoa Haven - anchorage - refuel by jerry can (approximately 750 miles from Pond Inlet)

Cambridge Bay - alongside refueling (approximately 260 miles from Gjoa Haven)

Tuktoyaktuk - fill jerry cans and transport by dinghy (approximately 675 miles from Cambridge Bay)

Barrow - open roadstead. May not be possible to stop in bad weather (approximately 500 milesfrom Tuktoyaktuk)


Nome - alongside berth for main fuel tanks. No jerry cans allowed for environmental reasons (approximately 600 miles from Barrow)




Quote:
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Hello Evans,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Panope View Post


Thanks for this very interesting info.


I have a couple of questions.



How much fuel range under power is necessary for "comfortable" transits of the NWP? Are winds reliable enough to make long fuel range unecessary?



Something tells me that when a lead in the ice opens up there will be a strong tendency to motor through as quick as possible. Is that generally the way it works? Or are people comfortable waiting in "safe" anchorages for favorable winds?



Thanks in advance,




Steve
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Old 15-08-2013, 21:53   #15
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Re: Northwest Passage - Ice 2013

Thanks Evans,

A trip through the NWP is becoming very interesting to me. Myself and my boat are really not up for the trip (although fuel range is probably adequate at 1000km) and I am very happy living on dirt raising a kiddo.

But who knows, maybe in 10 or 20 years the ice will be a non issue and one will be able to buy a cruising guide at West Marine that will tell you everything you need to know.

Oh dear, now I am envisioning droves of boats making it through every year. Maybe it will become the Baja Haha of North.

Let's hope the ice sticks around keeps this trip in the adventure/expedition category. And I can happily keep this trip as the fantasy that it is.

Steve
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