Sunday, September 29, 2013

Two yachts with same NW Passage intentions but ultimately make different decisions with different outcomes

Both yachts crossed the Russian Northern Sea Route to PevekRU to checkout of the Russian vessel traffic system (VTS).

Both yachts started out to attempt a single-season Arctic Circumnavigation counterclockwise (West-to-east).
S/V TARA made the decision to continue from Pevek on or about 20130907 choosing a direct route to Tuktoyaktuk NWT Canada to hurry along their attempt on a route in the legendary Northwest Passage knowing there were definite sea ice choke-points which meant risking wintering over if there was no icebreaker services to help them through the ice.

S/V LADY DANA 44 made a totally different decision upon reaching Pevek Russia on or about September 16th to not challenge the Northwest Passage so late in 2013 but rather to sail some 3,400 miles through the stormy Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean to winter over in Vancouver B.C. Canada until next year to resume their voyage.

Why do you think that each boat made such a different decision?

1. TARA is a 36m aluminum expedition schooner motor-sailer with 5,000 miles cruising range while the LADY DANA 44 is a 14.3m steel sloop sailboat with a 74hp main engine with unknown fuel capacity and range.

2. Wintering over - TARA has spend years in the ice wintering over because of her specific design and construction. LADY DANA 44 was built for northern latitudes cruising.

3. Organizations. TARA is owned by business owners and sponsored by France. (I believe Canada was influenced to provide icebreaker services.) LADY DANA 44 is privately owned and group funded.

4. Risks. Subjecting a yacht and crew to sea ice is dangerous at best. It was late in the season with known multiple ice choke-points. It would be extremely poor judgement to attempt such a late season transit without a commitment for icebreaker escort services. Canada was not willing to make a a commitment for a 14m private yacht so late in the transit season. Erroring on the side of safety, LADY DANA 44 made a very wise decision.


Since TARA did not cross the Bering Strait Arctic Circle their Arctic Circumnavigation will NOT include an official Northwest Passage and likely NOT include an official Northern Sea Route. Upon completion of TARA's single-season Arctic Circumnavigation it will be star "*" noted with "required icebreaker assistance". 

LADY DANA 44 on the other hand has crossed the Bering Sea Arctic Circle and will once again cross it next year when they resume their voyage. In the final record books LADY DANA 44 will achieve an Arctic Circumnavigation which took two years and includes a Northern Sea Route and likely Northwest Passage in 2014.

Two different decisions with two different outcomes.

Check back for updates...

S/V TARA website:

S/V LADY DANA 44 website:


brem1954 said...

Tara gets icebreaker assistance for 50 miles.
It was in this atmosphere, floating between magic and wonder, that the Canadian Coast Guard's Louis S. St-Laurent contacted us by radio. It was a short formal exchange in English and we learned that the icebreaker had received orders to guide us. Our captain, Loïc Vallette complied and Tara navigated into the wake of the red-hulled giant with a maple leaf on its white funnel.

At a safe distance of eight hundred yards we progressed behind our guide. For fifty miles on the starboard side we had the Brodeur Peninsula and snowy mountains. We made our way through a water channel opened up by the Coast Guard. Mile after mile and we found ourselves easily crossing the Northwest Passage behind this protective escort. Without this help, we would have been at the limit of energy and fatigue, and perhaps more if we had made our own way between these plaques which made a thick white line on the horizon.

Captain on GREY GOOSE said...

50 miles or 5 miles - distance has nothing to do with the record books at this stage because TARA missed the starting gate at the Arctic Circle in the Bering Strait - NO OFFICIAL NW PASSAGE FOR THE RECORD BOOK. And very likely the same for the Northern Sea Route.

Icebreaker assistance was accepted by the TARA Captain. Nothing is wrong with that - I'd do the same if offered a free icebreaker 'safety' escort while transiting through a sea ice passage. KUDOS TARA you are going to make your single season Arctic Circumnavigation counter clockwise!

Congratulations on your achievement!

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