Sunday, October 6, 2013

Camp Arktika - Motor-sailer ARKTIKA completes an east to west Northwest Passage in 2013

Motor-sailer ARKITKA has been on the hunt challenging a NW Passage this season but we have not heard much from Captain Gilles Elkaim. Gilles contacted me and wondered what had happened. I explained that I had sent an e-mail and never heard back. That said, Gilles said go ahead and make a post using his French language website (I used Google Chrome Translations) content and pictures. Thanks Giles - all content used with your kind permission.

Boy that is quite some motor-sailer... KUDOS!!! 

ARKTIKA is a motor-sailer, type Voyager 47’, 15 meters long, built in aluminum by the shipyard Meta (in Tarare, France).

Main characteristics are:

Hull in thick aluminum STRONGALL® process (0.6 inch at the bottom).
2 NANNI diesel engines (2 x 62 hp, 2001)
Sail propulsion (main sail, stay sail, genoa)
Energy saving : 1 liter (0.26 US gallons) / nautical mile at cruise speed 7 knots
Long range autonomy: 6,000 nautical miles range at 7 knots (6,000 liters or 1,585 US gallons diesel).
Energy range: 2 wind generators, 7 solar panels, 14 batteries (215 A/H each).
Low draft: 1,10 m with possibility to beach.
Comfort: 4 different types of heating, excellent insulation, double glazed windows, indoor pilothouse, well equipped galley, bathroom (with bathtub!)
High-tech: state of the art electronic navigation equipment.

The Voyager 47’ has been designed to sail in total safety in the Arctic and across the oceans.

A complete refit of the boat has been done in 2011 and 2012.

ARKTIKA is registered in Finland. She is a class A ship, without limits.

Type : Voyager 47’

Builder : Meta, Tarare (France) 
Designer : Michel Joubert et Nivelt
Year : 1984
Material: aluminum type Strongall

  Length : 15 m
  Width: 4,44 m
  Draft : 1,10 m (possible to beach)

Displacement: 19 t in charge

  Nanni 2 x 62 hp (2001)
  Gear box : ZF Marine
Cooling: freshwater
Propeller: 3 blades Radice 500 mm
Cruise speed: 7 knots
Consumption: 1 liter/mile at 7 knots

  Diesel 6000 l + day-tank 427 l
Filters : 30 + 0,5 microns
Transfer pump between front and rear diesel tank 
  Water : 1200 l
  Waste water : 300l
  Black water : 50l

Riggings and sails
Mast : Alu 11,50 m, with steps and crow nest
Main sail : 15 m²
Genoa : 28 m²
Stay sail : 21,5 m²
Lazy jacks, lazy bag
Winchs : 2 Andersen ST 40, 1 Barbarossa ST 55
Telescopic pole Selden

Electric windlass : Lofran Falcon 1700W (with remote control)

Anchor : Brake 40 kg, CQR 25 kg, 100m chain of 12 mm
Manual windlass : Goïot
Back anchor : Brittany 16 kg, 20 m chain of 12 mm

Deck and hull
Aluminum 15mm bottom, planks 12mm, deck 10mm, pilot house 8 mm
Rudder: double with protection
Bathing platform
Overall canvas tent for cockpit
Table of cockpit for 8 persons
Hard top
Fly bridge
Hard railings

Pilot house with dinette for 4 and library

Mess-room with dinette for 6
Galley with gas cooking stove and oven
Electric oven
Fridge and freezer : 225 l

Cabin: 1 double, 1 simple
2 bunks
Dinette in mess-room converts in triple berth
Dinette in pilot house converts in double berth
Total: 10 berths
Bath-room with shower and bath tub
WC: 2 (1 electric)
19 windows in Plexiglas of 20 mm double-glazed with Plexiglas of 10 mm
8 deck hatches Goïot, double-glazed with Plexiglas of 20 mm

Insulation: 65 mm of polyurethane
Multi-reflector 14 composants for windows if in wintering

Heating: air pulsed, wooden/coal stove, diesel stove, aerotherm by engine

Big rear store room

Alternators : 2 x 130 A
4 parks of batteries
14 batteries Odyssey 215A/h (total 3000 A/h)
Charger Victron 12 V - 200 A
Converter Victron 12 V - 3000 W
Wind generators: 2 x Eclectic Energy D400 (2 x 400 W)
Solar panels : 4 x 85 W, 1x 60 W, 2 x 35 W
Hot water : 75 l, double exchanger

Plotter : Simrad NSE 12
Computer : Navecore 3 + software Maxsea « Navigator »
Electronic charts C-map + Navionics
GPS : Simrad GS15
Radars : Simrad 6 kW 

Broadband 4G
Depth sounders : Simrad BSM1 (700m), Lowrance Structurescan (side scan), Raymarine ST60
Transponder AIS : Simrad AI50
Auto pilots : Simrad AP24 (with remote control) + Autohelm 6000 + Autohelm 4000
Navtex : Furuno NX300 

VHF: Simrad RS25 + 2 portables Icom
Radio HF : Icom IC-R1500 + meteo software 

Satellite phone Iridium
HiFi Sony + cd player


6 life jackets with harness
Cospas-Sarsat emergency beacon
EPIRB emergency beacon
AIS emergency beacon
Moto-pump 160 l/mn
Dinghy: Zodiac Mark IIC, outboard Yamaha 10 cv

Preparations for the Northwest Passage

Stopped by icefoot© Gilles Elkaim 

Arktika in floes© Guy Bush

A winter season ends in Lapland. The message communicated through 17 raids in the company of explorers very warm grass seems to pass. Thank you all for inviting me to continue the adventure Camp.

But tomorrow a different adventure awaits me, that the Northwest Passage. I'll meet in a few days my Arktika boat, moored at the small fishing port Isafjordur Iceland where he has wisely spent the winter.

After months of preparation, we cast off towards the East Greenland PUT TOGETHER then the west coast to the mythical Thule. From there we embark on the Northwest Passage along the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and Alaska. Reached Nome, Bering Strait, I have come full circle from my tour of the Arctic world, having already crossed the North East Passage by dogsled during my expedition Arktika 2000.

We have a few places on board, so if you're feeling adventurous, come share it with us (see brochure)!

Long live the adventure!

Queen of the Arctic© Gilles Elkaim

A millennium glacier endangered© Gilles Elkaim
To Storefjord© Gilles Elkaim

Navigation Isafjordur (Iceland) to Ilulissat (Greenland)

Arktika enters the Ilulissat harbor, west coast of Greenland. After 30 years of polar wandering, I'm back on the site of my first adventures.In 1984, at the age of 24, I spent one year to share the life of a small village not far from here. I learned hunting, ice fishing, dog sledding.I became a "polar".

Our navigation Isafjordur in Ilulissat (1.7 million) has not been easy. I did not choose the easy way: the pack along the east coast (dense this year) since Ammassalik to Cape Farewell. We try repeatedly to break the ice belt, but without success. Pervasive haze complicates our progress. Cape Farewell is in sight. We are 6 miles from the coast, but the wind freshened and the pack is closing inexorably on us. Our starboard engine races suddenly his injection pump loose us. With only one engine, we lack maneuverability. During 3 days, we battalions to double the Cape.

4am. Night reappeared at this latitude. Whitish ghosts surround us and shake. Arktika became the game of glacial features. Huge floes collide violently our hull. We struggle with poles to absorb shocks, deflect the course of some monsters that would make short work of Arktika.

5am. The sun rises on a landscape Apocalypse. Arktika is caught in a torrent of ice monstrous: a pack as I have ever seen. The strong current of Cape Farewell combined with a heavy swell creating hellish conditions. Arktika is being squeezed by the drifting floes and icebergs. All seem alive threatening. Without hesitation, I ordered preparations to abandon ship if it is crushed by ice. The procedure has been prepared and rehearsed. My young teammates react perfectly calm and cool, but what baptism ice for novices in the Far North! I inform the local VHF station and is aware of our situation. Arctic commandos are on standby. Arktika has not said its last word, I'm sure, but anything can happen very quickly and put us at risk in less than an hour. I can not imagine embarking on a schedule in this glacial broth. Let alone in a life raft. The one and the other would be crushed immediately. We should embark on a sufficiently stable floe, but what we see around us inspires us really!

6am. Guided by a premonition, I go on the fly-bridge for a scene examination. Relief mingled with hope came over me. Free water is very close to a few miles. Arktika, because of its wind drift across the general movement of the pack, the straight free water! I hoisted the mainsail and staysail place to increase our drift. We do not stop to enable us much madly to perch but this time feeling the nearest salvation.

9am. Black water, this wonderful open water is within our reach. We avoided the bigger ice, but the swell increases. The last mile is the most dangerous. Blocks collide violently vibrating hull and suffers phenomenal pressure. Some floes raise the boat, others surround ready to crush. The sails are brought. Arktika is a sudden turn in on itself, like a spinning top: we are liberated! We are sailing! After review, the hull does not not have a scratch, a single hump. The 12 mm thick aluminum have fully resisted. We double Farewell course if misnamed and hard-earned. We defeated pack or us he missed? Wisdom would make me opt for this second version.

Cape Farewell in Ilulissat, we still retain the fog and mist. Only a few stops exploration and fishing extract ourselves from this ghostly navigation.
Next step: the mythical Thule.

Long live the adventure!

Mooring a floe© G. Elkaim

Beautiful evening before passing Cape Farewell© G. Elkaim

West Greenland Coast© Gilles Elkaim

In the pack on the east coast© Gilles Elkaim

Iceberg© Gilles Elkaim

Iceberg© Gilles Elkaim

Young harp© Gilles Elkaim

The calm before the storm© Gilles Elkaim

Cape Farewell before the gale© Gilles Elkaim

Wolf and Enzo wheelhouse© Gilles Elkaim

Luc capture a floe© Gilles Elkaim

Cleaning net© Gilles Elkaim

Fishermen face Ilulissat© Gilles Elkaim

Hooded Seal© Gilles Elkaim

Bearded Seal© Gilles Elkaim

Sails scissor© Gilles Elkaim

Avannamut! En route to the North!

Arktika leaves the docks Ilulissat with two engines expertly pampered by Enzo. We had got used to navigate hopping on one engine, but Thierry, new passenger on board, brought us a brand new injection pump mounted immediately arrived on board. Maybe a little faster also because the idling spring escaped from the hands of the mechanic got lost in the motor Never mind we search the boat looking for a replacement spring and are in a joint spi. It works almost as well as the original. And sails? We (especially Luke) would like to bring it up more often, but the north wind, right in the nose does not allow us to take full advantage of this mode of propulsion smoother.

The small village of Qeqertaq is forced stop on our road. I lived there my first adventure in 1984. At the age of 24, I left without a penny in pocket without equipment or experience, to live one year: learn Greenlandic, hunting, ice fishing and dog sledding, who will become well later my family, my world, my soul.

The village has changed relatively little over 30 years. I walk straight to the house of Mikkili, my adoptive father then. But I hear he left the polar world forever in recent years. I wander the trails, both emotional and nostalgic without meeting my old friends. The past is no longer registered in my memory. We immediately set sail our tank filled with water. What good revive those memories because I saw them every day. Not a day goes by without this experience I gained then is beneficial or necessary in everyday life.

Everything has changed here yet. Glaciers I then hung around by dogsled disappeared or are moribund. Not even the ice forms over here in winter. Seals are scarce. Is it because of warming waters or overhunting facilitated by more efficient technical means (boats, outboard motors). Probably two causes combine to scarce game. Civilization seal is fast disappearing.

Arktika was designed and refurbished to a very special program and navigate winter in the polar seas, live and adapt to the wilds of the North. Our stops are very active. While Wolf and Enzo are going to put their nets or longlines, Luke keeps the boat and I share my next hunting or gathering. The guys are so full of seal meat or cod. In longline we go again 2 huge sea lions (not to be confused with the bar of our temperate regions). Sorrel just decorate salads and Rhodiola Rosea flavor our tea. The skins are carefully scraped to dry on deck.Hunting for subsistence, find traditional gestures, while respecting the animal that gave us life.

Melville Bay has a very bad reputation. No home, no can stop, no shelter along its 400 km of continental ice flowing ice sheet. The weather is often stormy and difficult to cross pack. These conditions have isolated the polar Eskimos of the Thule region of their southern neighbors for centuries. Even today we do not engage in Melville Bay without trepidation. But it is said that our difficult passage of Cape Farewell entitles us to a certain magnanimity elements. Midnight sun, calm seas, winds subsided for a time, the glaciers on our march to the beat of our starboard quarter. After two days of idyllic passage, we anchored by 76 ° N, at the foot of the "Iron Mountain" on the exact site of the discovery, in 1896, meteorites Saviksivik by Peary, winner of the North Pole.

Enzo and I traquons guillemots and auks attached. We had a good hunt when suddenly a huge head emerges from the turquoise waters, 70m from the bow: a seal and a big one! Immediately rifle Verney-Carron charged head spring to stern. I fire and affects the animal's head.He died on the spot, but it flows even before we had time to join. For an hour we hope to see emerge or thrown on the shore.Disappointed we return to the ship as the gale was established. In the afternoon, Luc and I change wetting. Wolf joins us in the appendix, but it drags in the water something gray: our seal! Addressing the beach in the rollers with our monster is already not very simple, hold down once in the surf is another. I battle for an hour before the dock. Enzo and Wolf comes to the rescue and we can roll on wheels beyond the waves. We are soaked, but happy not to have killed a bearded seal 350 kg in vain. Butchering before us until midnight. The next day I spent 12 hours at the huge scrape skin with the oulo (the half-moon knife Eskimo). Inside these ancestral, we better understand how the people eskimo developed incredible ingenuity to adapt to the polar environment.

The north wind blows hard as we leave the Sound Booth. We anchored at the foot of Fitzclarence Rock, rock 200m high and are heading towards Cape Parry when a bear suddenly appears in the waves. The large male is apparently experiencing any discomfort in the swell.Where does it come from then? Earth Ellesmere in Canada? Maybe he runs just the coast. Without doubt it is looking for the package that would allow him to hunt seals, but the pack has completely disappeared for a few weeks at our latitude between Greenland and Canadian coast. One of the biggest victims of global warming in the northern lands is the bear who can not drive without plates of sea ice I would indicate the position of the bearded seal carcass near where we stored a lot fat ...

We leave Thule Dundas starboard. The U.S. base access is forbidden to us. In 1950, in the heart of the Cold War, Americans, with the consent of the Danish government moved the polar Eskimos living there for centuries, to install a nuclear strategic military base. Can you imagine the shock more violent cultures? Thule Qaanaq, located a few hundred kilometers north of Dundas has emerged. We anchored opposite the small village in a magnificent setting. Ultima Thule, 77 ° 30'N, we are after 2500 miles and 6 weeks of sailing from Iceland. The village has modern houses, but narwhal hunting continues kayak. Dogs waiting patiently winter will not be long here as the 17 August, the clumps are already dusted with snow.

On August 21, we will leave Greenland into Canada to undertake the second phase of our expedition: The Northwest Passage.

Long live the adventure!

A sailing between icebergs© Gilles Elkaim

Arktika the cliffs© Gilles Elkaim

At the foot of the mountain of iron© Gilles Elkaim

In Torsukatak© Gilles Elkaim

Skinning a bearded seal© Gilles Elkaim

Fitz Clarence Rock© Gilles Elkaim

Scraping of a bearded sealskin© Gilles Elkaim

Along glaciers© Gilles Elkaim

Catfish© Gilles Elkaim

Nefertiti ice© Gilles Elkaim

Not far Saviksivik© Gilles Elkaim
Bear in waves© Gilles Elkaim

Skin ringed seal© Gilles Elkaim
Skins Bear left to dry© Gilles Elkaim

Drying cod© Gilles Elkaim

Midnight Sun in Melville Bay© Gilles Elkaim

A filled cod fillet© Gilles Elkaim
A quiet evening© Gilles Elkaim

Qeqertaq© Gilles Elkaim

Successful first step in the Northwest Passage

For three days we are tossed by the waves, facing Thule Qaanaq in winds of 35 knots, 24 occupied 24 hours to avoid Pole ice derived from the fjord King Baudoin. The anchorage is really not ideal. A low ledge protects small boats, but this area is dry at low tide. With this wind, we hesitate to attempt a landing. Our small outboard be enough to counter it bursts? We are therefore reduced to wait and suffer without the benefit of our call. There is so much to do: mechanical maintenance, supply, washing, water, shower, paying the bills or ice charts to study the internet ... so we remain in this lethargic for 72 hours against the mythical Thule. We could imagine a more wonderful encounter with the polar Eskimos. Moreover, a kayak race was canceled. Inuit parties narwhal hunting are also retained in the fjord by bad weather.Finally, calm looks, and luck, the day of the weekly plane to bring us three new passengers from nine (this is a record for Arktika) the number of persons on board. Jacques is a longtime friend. It will turn the images of our Northwest Passage. Bertrand, already initiated by the Northern winter raid at Camp Arktika, accompanies us to Cambridge Bay. Helmut finally fell in love with when we were Arktika stopover in Reykjavik last year, we will leave at Barrow (Alaska).

"Arktika here on 16 Vagabond!" VHF announces the arrival of Eric Brossier and his family aboard Vagabond. We have not planned anything and now our paths cross at the end of the world.

We met Eric and me, the first time in 1999. I then prepared my expedition Arktika: North Cape to the Bering Strait solo. Eric is about to embark on a similar route: the Northwest Passage East on the yacht Vagabond he had acquired. Each will carry a world first.
After four years and 12,000 km traveled by kayak and dogsled, I reach the Bering Strait making the first crossing of the Arctic continent solo non-motorized means.
After two summers navigation, Eric and France realize the first round of the Arctic sailing. If these two expeditions have in common a geographical area, they will still guide our destinies in a similar way that our heart and soul are still there. Each start a family in the North: Human for Eric France with a woman and two children Leonie and Dawn, human-canine for Gilles with 50 sled dogs.

Fourteen years later, in 2013, we find ourselves in Thule, a mythical place if it is one and the other on our respective boats: Arktika and Vagabond. Eric and France lead scientific missions and provide logistics sports expeditions. I undertake the Northwest Passage to complete my tour of the Arctic world, we devoted our lives to each polar expeditions, having chosen a life of simplicity and sincerity in the far north.

Cambridge Bay, Canada, is our next destination of nearly 1,000 nautical miles. Ice charts show that the channel is closed by Peel a high density of ice. The Canal du Prince Regent is it navigable, but it leads to Bellot Strait which is blocked at its western end. Seven boats attempting the passage of the Northwest are blocked there and one of them gives up. In other words, the Northwest Passage is still closed. But by studying the development boards that indicate ice age, ice type and movement, I take the passage should open shortly, and probably here that we get in the zone .

Cap is on Devon Island and Canada. We cross the northern Baffin Bay, offshore islands Carey when the gale struck us. The barometer is falling as the anemometer up: 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 knots in gusts. The sea forms and lock in a cross swell 5m becomes sport. Yet Arktika pass smoothly, certainly rolling in because of its round hull, but offering only little cottage. Seasickness or sleep affects the entire company, but the two helmsmen (Me and Luke), who are lucky enough not to have this hobby. I bent the road to Coburg Island at the entrance to Jones Sound between Devon Island and Ellesmere earth. No visibility into the shelter half-moon. Radar and sonar guide us so sure. High cliffs sprinkled snow appear only when we anchor our two anchors, 200m from bare black rocks of vegetation. Welcome in Canada!

We thought we could along the coast of Somerset Island to Bellot Strait, but a pack of more dense forces us to divert our eastward and Brodeur Peninsula. We force the passage in the ice playing ice breezes. Arktika is running at 4 knots on the ice sheets, rising on the floe, moving or breaking. Two pole vaulters (Wolf and Enzo) to help spread the front plates, a watch (Luke) the crow's nest indicates the general direction of the navigator. This is the master of the maneuver. It should play on both gas engines on the bar and intuition to choose the best passages. It must show pellet or rather confidence to launch his boat all the way to impact. Arktika and skipper are in their element. We are polar and have fun like crazy. After several hours of bumper car, we find open water east of the Canal du Prince Regent.

Having lost several degrees of latitude from Qaanaq (77 ° 30 'N), the northernmost point of our expedition, we find the nights and navigation becomes more challenging. In addition we have not seen the sun since we left Qaanaq. Winter seems to have already installed here. We finally arrive at Fort Ross, sheltered bay at the entrance of Bellot Strait. Both gales we have suffered much spread the pack. The bay is empty and ice boat. Bellot Strait is so open, as I predicted.

Bellot Strait is named in honor of a lieutenant in the French Navy went with James Clark Ross in search of Franklin disappeared with his two ships and 105 crew in 1848 men. It was only later nearly ten years and after many research expeditions that the mystery of their disappearance will be lifted.

Bellot Strait is the key to the Northwest Passage. From the west, two route options arise from Lancaster to the south: the channel Peel, often caught in the ice and the Canal du Prince Regent. Embouquant Bellot Strait in the south we came the more clear that the northern part of Peel channel. But Bellot Strait has another peculiarity: its tides reversed. Of the 15 mile long Strait, the tide is reversed completely, that is to say, it is high in the Strait while the output is low. At the center of the strait reaches 390m depth while it is 20m to the entrance. The phenomenon could be likened to that of a lock if it is only the current can reach 8 knots! Suffice to say that the calculation of tide is essential before committing to it. Add to that the drifting ice and you will understand the danger of such a passage.

It's 4am when I wake up my crew. We enter at daybreak in the Strait. Everyone is gathered in the wheelhouse to watch the show. The first mile confirm a tidal range. Strait is ice-free. It separates Somerset Island Boothia Peninsula, the furthest point north of the American continent.

Strait behind us, the Northwest Passage is open to us. A week later and a few gusts of wind on our way, we reach the island of Victoria and arrive in Cambridge Bay, a village of 1500 inhabitants of the North-West.

The weather is now very difficult. We are already entering the winter and depressions succeed ...

Long live the adventure!

At the entrance of Bellot Strait© Gilles Elkaim

Arktika and Vagabond Thule© Gilles Elkaim

In channel Prince Regent© Gilles Elkaim

Departure from the island Coburg© Gilles Elkaim

Eric and GillesGilles Elkaim©

Jacques the filming© Gilles Elkaim

The boat trapper© Gilles Elkaim

bearded seal skin stretched for drying© Gilles Elkaim

Meet the family Vagabonde© Gilles Elkaim

Vagabond Arktika© Gilles Elkaim

The Northwest Passage is crossed

Before leaving Cambridge Bay, we anchor for the night not far from the wreck of the Maud Amundsen on which he had crossed the North-East Passage. We have enough rushed for two days, STEERING by winds of 30 knots on the public dock in Cambridge Bay. Fortunately, the local recycling center contains enough quad tires which have cushioning concrete on our hull.
Empiricus The boat moored behind us fared less well with its plastic shell. Both friendly Alaskan edge, Jesse and Jason, then complete their journey through the Northwest Passage from west to east. They will take the road next summer. I heard they were looking into town to buy seal meat while we feast on stew bearded seal the Arktika mode.

Two passengers, Thierry and Bertrand we leave here. Date of flight forced us to a marathon. While we all would have wanted to do a visit to King William Island where the disaster took place of the Franklin expedition, we had to navigate without a little stop and despite gales to Cambridge Bay. The short period of airworthiness Northwest Passage (one to two months) requires further in a race if you do not wish winter on this route yet where many historic stops invite browser.

A stop is also down to a race: declare local authorities to refuel fresh product, water, gas oil, take a real shower, wash clothes and connect to the Internet. But as such, the communities of northern Canada are surprisingly poorly equipped and resupplied as Greenland.We make our entry into Canada from the mounted police formalities and thanks to the hospitality of Corey can take a shower and wash our clothes. But what is the gas oil (deficit here) and water (too expensive) we'll go out to a distance of 250 miles Coppermine.

Dease Strait is crossed with no ice coming to rub the hull Arktika. We enter the Coronation Gulf and veer to sail north to an exploration of an island (unnamed) in the archipelago of the Duke of York. Little boat had wet here. We discover a sublime landscape, untouched. Large black granite organs like ebony alongside bleached limestone erosion. We walk worthy of large slabs of the finest suburban supermarket parking lot. Muskox, caribou, ptarmigan and even a wolf home here, far from any human activity. We ask a net but one spider sea will lose, to the chagrin of our filmmaker Jacques, up at 4am ready to shoot images of miraculous catch ...

Miles is hard earned in the Northwest Passage. We are struck by a gust of wind just before Coppermine. The village does not have a sheltered anchorage, we are forced to divert us Expeditor Cove, a small enclosed by a large half-mile pass and lined bay breakers. At the bar, I have cold sweats. Arktika, downwind, was launched in surfing at about 10 knots. The slightest error, the slightest swerve in the pass would soon issue due to windage our boat. We anchored two anchors and tossed in the violent chop expect a whole day the gale continues.

The small welcoming committee meets on the gray sand beach to our landing Coppermine is rather surprised to see us. Few boats to stop here. Our first question is for gas oil. No, no gas oil here either. As in Cambridge Bay, the barge supply expected ... Maybe in Tuktoyaktuk, 500 miles from here! Our tanks have not been filled since our departure from Iceland, 4.4 million, or more than 8000 km. I am pleased to have such autonomy and if economic engines (1liter/mile for 2 engines).

I am leaving to deliver a lecture to students at the school and we leave again to regret this little isolated from the world community that we could learn so much about their lifestyle based on hunting and fishing.

The Amundsen Gulf is separated from the Coronation Gulf by the Dolphin and Union Strait. We cross it on a broad reach, and under full sail aurora borealis. Too good to last, another gale, reminds us that tourism is banned in the region. The sea is high and the roar of some breaking encourage us to seek shelter under the heading Lyon.

At Cape Bathrust, we encounter some scattered ice. The French rower Charles Heidrich party Whales in Alaska, given here to continue its journey from west to east through the Northwest Passage. We are progressing on our side hardly face gusts of over 30 knots in a chaotic and muddy sea 4m background. Thus hopping chips gale we finally reach Tuktoyaktuk and we moor on the tiny icy dock. Arktika takes 5 tons of fluid in the funds. With no ballast, what are the fuel and water which ensure better stability while empty tanks, it remains a very safe boat in bad weather. These have proven the few detours.

Beaufort, moonlit night. It's 4am when I take my shift. AIS tells me a boat on our starboard 6000: Tara, the expedition ship. I pick up the VHF call. After several attempts to contact, we finally replied. I offer some information on the air on the road, but my partner does not linger or interested in an exchange, or curious about who we are. The conversation ended and lack of courtesy for my taste (of that used by radio operators in general) ... No comment!

The island Hershel is a required stop before leaving Canada and entering Alaska. Appointed by Franklin in his second expedition, it was in the mid 19 th century, the gathering point for whaling fleets. It is now a national park. Some huts are occupied during the short summer the store, meteorologist and some passing visitors. In late September, is already the beginning of the winter here. Also the place is deserted, all the houses, except the small shelter closed and compartmentalized to avoid visiting bears.

Point Barrow marks the end of the Beaufort Sea and into the Chukchi Sea, which I had long known her in 2004 during my expedition by dogsled. The winds became stronger to the limit of gale. Point Barrow port, or even a single pier or wharf. We anchored in front of the resort, hard tossed in the waves. What a night reception. Nobody could sleep all night, just cling not to be ejected from his bunk. Oh stop the long-awaited rest of the marine they say ... Ni longer, we repeat 15 miles on our route from the previous day to reach a lagoon.Although its narrow entrance is 200m freestyle in the breakers, it is worth it. However, do not go imagining a heavenly blue lagoon. Here the water is brown and snow dusted the shores of black gravel. But there is better than Eden: a calm water, finally!

Our last leg of our journey takes us to Nome, a distance of 650 miles, across the Bering Strait. 

Long live the adventure!

Arktika in aurora© Jacques Ducoin

Anchorage at Herschel Island© Gilles Elkaim

Pauline Cove on Herschel Island© Gilles Elkaim

Ancient tombs Herschel Island© Gilles Elkaim

Diving in cold water to change anodes

Arktika Tuktoyaktuk© Gilles Elkaim

The team at Cambridge Bay© Gilles Elkaim

Nome (Alaska)

Arktika is the second ship of the Finnish pleasure to connect the Atlantic to the Pacific through the Northwest Passage. Gilles Elkaim loop turn the polar world (North-East Passage by dog ​​sled and kayak from 2000 to 2004, the Northwest Passage sailing in 2013)

We reached Barrow in time for our passengers do not miss their plane, and even a few days in advance, however the atmosphere is not the party on board. We are so tossed in the waves at anchor with no shelter from wind of 30 knots that even the glass of Burgundy goes very wrong. Everyone takes refuge in his bed hoping for better days ...

In the morning the winds have not abated but our two anchors were well kept. I try a VHF contact with the port authorities, but as there is no port, we do not find an answer to my request for a visit to the Customs as we enter here in America. Against it by jacte well on waves: everyone wants "good afternoon" on the security channel!

Unable to land by the time we return to the north to pass Point Barrow, and find the password Elson Lagoon. It is only 200m wide and lined up funds less than one meter. The radar does not echo these low lagoons and intermittent sounder is in the water load of silt. Suffice to say that it must focus especially good bar in breaking through our exploding. Fortunately the cards are accurate and one of them, satellite, can be misleading. Arktika sneaks between the breakers and surf in 1.70 m deep. We passed and now sailing in a stable water level. Arktika is wet in 2 m of water CALM. A smile on the face of some ...

The quad that takes me a ride on the lagoon makes me regret not having covered 10 km walk to the village. I can still alive and in the absence of customs, driving me to the police station to find out that we are in violation. Barrow is not an entry in the U.S. port. We must leave as soon as possible in the direction of Nome. After tough negotiations, my passengers are still allowed to disembark and catch their plane. I am escorted to my lagoon good police escort any more comfortable and more secure than the quad sum.

The road ends at a parking lot where many are parked pickup. Humpback whales migrating south have been identified off the tip. Featured outboard aluminum are transported by vehicles to the lagoon. In the evening a great activity here during the reign of butchering whales.Some polar bears have left their mark on the snowy sand does not make a mistake. If today we use the umiak and the harpoon, it is nevertheless hunter at heart.

The lagoon is frozen this morning. A sort of slush called brash covers it. She just clog our water cooled engines supposed sea wells. While browsing, we pour hot water for lead. The lagoon left, we find the open sea and open water.

Nome is 560 miles. The first 500 miles of the course no shelter is possible. Have a good weather window is paramount, the autumn storms in the Bering Strait can be daunting. Beautiful calm and sunny weather we enjoy in this first day of sailing is welcomed. We have not seen such beautiful also from Greenland, our lot in the Northwest Passage has been rain, fog, snow or hail. But in this region, the mild and transient conditions are already the second day, we are struck by a small gust of wind in the vicinity of Icy Cape, extreme point reached by the British in 1778 Cook browser. However, the autopilot back in service as we leave gradually regions of high magnetic disturbance.Since our entry into the Northwest Passage, we indeed had bar day and night Arktika manually.

Soon we pass the Arctic Circle north to south in good weather. Cape Prince of Wales doubled September 26, we enter the Bering Strait.The Chukchi Sea and the Arctic Arctic Ocean are behind us. We enter in the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The water temperature rose from -0.3 ° C to 7 ° C Barrow here. Lagoons yield up to eneigés peaks of Alaska. The Northwest Passage is definitely crossed.

Arktika offers a special point of view to have vertigo: to port the village of Wales, the westernmost point of the American continent, to starboard, the two Diomede Islands (Early American and Russian Ratmanova) distance of less than 3 miles but separated by the line of date change or 24h time difference between them, and further, the Cape Dezhnev, eastern extremity of Asia, which I reached by dogsled eight years ago at the end of an expedition of four years. The place is great and we would like to linger but the forecast high vacuum to 970 hPa in the Gulf of Alaska: wind 100 knots and waves it seems 6m ...

The first light of dawn, after four days of sailing from Barrow, we enter the port of Nome and we moor the U.S. shore. The engine is stopped, the log is completed, everyone looks surprised that the shipment is completed. We traveled a total of 5.5 million more than 10,000 km from Iceland, a nice tour of Greenland from Thule Ammassalik up half a round the world north of the Arctic Circle and have taken this mythical passage and history of the Atlantic to the Pacific what the Northwest Passage. For my part I end my turn here in the Arctic (Eurasian and American).

Time to take stock. What did we find in this passage? It is clear that cross the Northwest Passage is a race. Against the first time since the navigation period is very short, this year especially when the passage is open to Bellot Strait late: the last week of August. Against the elements as: ice and bad weather. Paradoxically, Arktika has very little was hampered by ice. It is designed and prepared for much more severe ice conditions and has played the pack first year in the channel of the Prince Regent. Bad weather with gusts repeatedly and more chaotic seas began our morale. Arktika however offered its security and comfort in any situation, so much so that one sometimes feels disconnected elements. But for me who loves to keep up with the nomadic this difficult navigation led as captain has certainly given me the satisfaction of the responsibilities of running a ship and its crew, but with an aftertaste of missing: meetings with my friends Inuit in the far north, lack of land as exploration, lack of time and intimacy with nature.

For Arktika, the balance is positive. Our ship has thwarted all the pitfalls of the Arctic and the complex machine that is the polar autonomous ship was even better Trusted. Arktika is ready for a new expedition in 2014.

I must not forget to thank my crew with whom I shared this long voyage: three boys who have no prior experience polar but who knew perfectly hold their position as the duration during hard times. Enzo (20 years) mechanic, whose perseverance no chance to the most vindictive failures, the intimate friend of the bowels of Arktika, Wolf (22 years) cook the dynamism and perpetual good humor, and juggler at these times to succeed succulent dishes of polar land by more qu'agitée sea, the intimate friend of square Arktika, Luke (37) sailor who is always a pleasure to leave the cocoon of the wheelhouse to maneuver sails scabrous vétu its sole Icelandic sweater and his safety vest, an intimate friend of rigging of Arktika. The great success of this expedition will be to be able to lead this expedition in the company of a very good team and be able to draw and enjoy mutually learn from each other.

This trip was a historical journey in the wake of the greatest explorers: Holm Rasmussen and Peary in Greenland, Ross, Parry, Franklin, Hearne, Back, McClintock, McClure and the Amundsen Northwest Passage. Roald Amundsen, Norwegian explorer, an impressive palmares: First to the South Pole, first to cross the Northwest Passage, the North-East Passage, the first air crossing of the Arctic Ocean by airship (Norge) from Svalbard to Alaska (near Nome).

This expedition also gave us the evidence of global warming, its impact vis-à-vis indigenous peoples and their traditional way of life. Ten thousand kilometers in Arctic waters and so few whales encountered so few bears, walruses and seals crossed our path. Our planet is fragile. His excessive exploitation has led to irreparable consequences. Will tell you enough? At their respective levels is responsible for the disaster. Let us finally some respite from its operations for these young people who accompanied me on this great journey, and many others after them, they in turn can enjoy the beauty and adventure.

Arktika in its autumn finery© Gilles Elkaim

lift anchor in ice© Gilles Elkaim

The lagoon frozen Elson© Gilles Elkaim

Little Diomede U.S.© Gilles Elkaim

Strait of 3000 between the two Diomede© Gilles Elkaim

Cape Prince of Wales (America)© Gilles Elkaim

Cape Dezhnev (Asia)© Gilles Elkaim

Wales, the westernmost town in America© Gilles Elkaim

The peaks of Alaska© Gilles Elkaim

Arktika Nome© Gilles Elkaim

Barge artisanal prospector© Gilles Elkaim

With my illustrious predecessor© Gilles Elkaim

Gilles and a resident of Nome© Gilles Elkaim

Crew Arktika 2013© Gilles Elkaim

 Aktika's crew Aktika 2013© Gilles Elkai Arktika

Motor-sailer ARKTIKA crossed the Davis Strait Arctic Circle on 20130720@14:00UTC then crossed the Bering Strait Arctic Circle on 20130926@15:45UTC.

TOTAL VOYAGE TIME ENROUTE: 68 days 1 hour 45



October 7th 2013, the sailboat ARKTIKA was hauled out of the water and moved to storage in Nome over the winter.

Website: 2008

Extreme adventurers (Bayard Jeunnesse)

100 years of exploration (Glénat)

Arktika, Four-year odyssey on the ice
(Editions Robert Laffont)
Golden Fleece Book Adventure 2005 Price Rene Caille 2006Book for sale € 20, Custom

Oxygen collective work
(Tana Publishing)

Mongolia steppe nomads
(Compass Publishing)


Rick said...

Great story but it does prove the old axiom. Travel has a tendency to confirm prejudices rather than open minds. To the author global warming is real even though they were nearly crushed by the ice. There were very few seals observed as they crossed the northwest passage and that confirms global warming. It does seem curious that they were able to kill and butcher one though. Is it possible that the cold weather may have been a factor in the lack of wild life observed? It is a wonderful story so disregard my cynicism.

helen shapiro said...

Hello, this is Tania from America. I like your posts and wish you all the best. It is a great job, and I hope you continue this job well.
Smo Services in Delhi

Post a Comment

Enter your comment(s) here...