Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Little Norway" aka Petersburg Alaska is named the best yachting town in America in 2013

Harbor Master Glo Wollen

PETERSBURG, ALASKA — Step aside Seattle and New Orleans, Alaska's "Little Norway" is the best yachting town in America.

The readers of Yachting Magazine have overwhelming chosen Petersburg, Alaska, a fishing community located about 100 miles south of Juneau, as the best yachting location for 2013.

Petersburg originally made the list of the top 50 towns, and editors at the magazine narrowed that list to 10. Readers then voted online, KFSK reported

"Petersburg pretty much ran away with the competition," Yachting Magazine associate editor Dan Harding said.

Petersburg received 44 percent of the vote, and is named in the magazine's November edition as the top port. Previous winners included Oxford, Md., and Beuford, N.C.

Jamestown, R.I., was second in this year's competition, and Seattle was third. New Orleans came in at 10th place.

Harding said it was encouraging to see so much support for a smaller community like Petersburg.

"Anytime we get a location like Petersburg or even Oxford, it's a real treat for us. I think it's a real treat for the readers because these are great locations that don't get the recognition that maybe they deserve. Sure, they're not as popular or might not have a dozen marinas with a triple digit number of slips, but I mean what they lack in amenity is made up for in natural beauty and I think that's really what the competition's all about," he said.

"We set out to hopefully find a gem of a town and so far we've done that and I think we found a real great destination in Petersburg," Harding said.

Town leaders encouraged people to vote in frequent Facebook posts.

"Somehow we pulled ahead of much bigger towns like Seattle and New Orleans. So, Petersburg had something special about it that encouraged people to vote," Petersburg Economic Development Council coordinator Liz Cabrera said.

She is hopeful the title will translates into more boaters choosing Petersburg as a destination.

Harbormaster Glo Wollen said Petersburg has seen an increase in visits by private pleasure boats in recent years.

A growing trend is people looking for spaces to stay during the winter at ports all along southeast Alaska so they can take a couple of summers to explore Alaska, Wollen said.

Petersburg is in the heart of the Tongass National Forest, located on Mitkof Island. Tourism opportunities include sport fishing, whale watching, hiking, sea kayaking and visits to nearby LeConte Glacier.

The harbor has space for about 500 vessels. While it accommodates pleasure boats, Petersburg is primarily a fishing town.

It does not have a deep water port, so large cruise ships and their thousands of passengers bypass Petersburg in favor of other Alaska port towns.

Information from: KFSK-FM,

Of course I think it was because M/V POLAR BOUND wintered over in Petersburg after David Scott Cowper and crewmember Jane Maufe became the first motor yacht and crew to transit through McClure Strait since the discovery of the NW Passage in 1850 by Commander Robert McClure aboard HMS INVESTIGATOR while searching for the lost Franklin Expedition. 

The Northwest Passage is today one of seven Arctic waterway routes between the Atlantic Ocean's Davis Strait Arctic Circle and the Pacific Ocean's Bering Strait Arctic Circle. POLAR BOUND completed a 2012 route one east to west NW Passage using McClure Strait in just under 20 days - Arctic Circle to Arctic Circle. In 2013, David Scott and crewmember Jane Maufe, fourth great-niece of Sir John Franklin, made a west to east NW Passage. That makes six NW Passages for David Scott Cowper. Undoubtedly some of the magic from setting world yachting records must of rubbed off on Petersburg.


Today in History - October 26, 1850 - Captain Robert McClure discovered the Arctic Northwest Passage. THE REST OF THE CAPTAIN JOHN CALDER STORY

Sir Robert John Le Mesurier McClure (or M'Clure) (28 January 1807 – 17 October 1873) was an Irish explorer of the Arctic. In January of 1850 Commander McClure and 66 crew sailed from England for the Pacific Arctic by way of the Strait of Magellan and by July made a port call in Hawaii. HMS INVESTIGATOR and crew sailed on turning eastward at Point Barrow in late August. By September the ship was searching for signs of the lost Franklin expedition in Prince of Wales Strait when the wind turned and ice moved in at position 73°10′ N, 117°10′ W. The ship was forced to made plans for wintering over in the ice of Prince of Wales Strait. McClure sent out search parties to survey the area.
On October 21, Commander McClure was on a seven-man sledge trip north-east when he observed distant mountain peaks. McClure provided confirmation of his sledge trip observations upon his return on the 31st, having seen an unblocked strait to the distant Melville Island from a 600-foot peak on Banks Island. This entry was placed in the INVESTIGATOR's ship log:

"October 31st, the Captain returned at 8.30. A.M., and at 11.30. A.M., the remainder of the parting, having, upon the 26th instant, ascertained that the waters we are now in communicate with those of Barrow Strait, the north-eastern limit being in latitude 73°31′, N. longitude 114°39′, W. thus establishing the existence of a NORTH-WEST PASSAGE between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans."

In 1851 HMS INVESTIGATOR circumnavigated Banks Island but was beset by sea ice on the northern part of the island in Mercy Bay in position 74°6′ N. 117°55′ W. requiring wintering over. In April 1953 Commander McClure lead his crew across 80 miles of sea ice to Winter Harbour on Mellville Island and met up with HMS RESOLUTE but once again beset by sea ice requiring wintering over. In 1854 both crews walked out some 200 miles to Beechey Island and met up with HMS NORTHSTAR. The ship transported both crews to England, arriving in October 1854. Commander Robert McClure and crew was the first to transit the Northwest Passage (by boat and sledge), as well as the first to circumnavigate the Americas.

Upon return to England, McClure was immediately court martialed and pardoned for the loss of the INVESTIGATOR, according to custom. The captain and crew was awarded shares in the £10,000 prize for completing a Northwest Passage. Commander McClure was knighted and decorated. He never made another Arctic voyage.


H.M.S. Investigator
R. J. Le M. M'Clure, Commander
Wm. H. Haswell, Lieutenant
Samuel G. Cresswell, Do.
H. H. Sainsbury, Mate (Died on board HMS Resolute Nov. 14, 1853)
Robert Wynniatt, Do.
Stephen Court, Second Master (Rated Acting Master Apr. 19, 1853)
Alex. Armstrong, M.D., Surgeon
Henry Piers, Assistant-Surgeon
Joseph C. Paine, Clerk in charge
George J. Ford, Carpenter
George Kennedy, Acting Boatswain
Richard A. Ross, Quartermaster (Disrated A.B. Dec. 14, 1850)
John Davies, A.B. (Rated Quartermaster Apr. 15, 1853)
John Kerr, Gunner's Mate (Died on board HMS Investigator Apr. 13 1853)
Henry Bluff, Boatswain's Mate
Samuel Mackenzie, A.B.
Charles Steel, A.B.
Edward Fawcett, Boatswain's Mate
James Evans, Caulker
George Gibbs, A.B.
James Williams, Captain of the Hold
Peter Thompson, Captain of the Foretop
Samuel Relfe, A.B.
Thomas Morgan, A.B. (Died on board HMS North Star May 22, 1854)
John Eames, A.B. (Died on board HMS Investigator Apr. 11, 1853)
William Batten, A.B.
Charles Anderson, A.B.
Isaac Stubberfield, Ship's Cook
Frederick Taylor, A.B.
Henry Gauen, Carpenter's Mate
George Brown, A.B. (Rated Quartermaster Dec. 24, 1850)
Cornelius Hulott, Captain's Coxswain
William Whitefield, Carpenter's Crew
Michael Flynn, Quartermaster
Mark Bradbury, A.B.
James Nelson, A.B.
William Carroll, A.B.
George Olley, A.B.
John Calder, Captain of Forecastle (see below)
John Ramsay, A.B.
Henry Stone, Blacksmith
Henry Sugden, Sub. Officer's Steward
Henry May, Quartermaster
Joseph Facey, Sailmaker
James M'Donald, A.B.
George L. Milner, Gun-room Steward
John Wilcox, Paymaster and Paymaster's Steward
Robert Tiffeny, Captain of Maintop
John Boyle, A.B. (Died at Mercy Bay, Apr. 6, 1853)
Thomas Toy, A.B.
Samuel Bonnsall, A.B.
Ellis Griffiths, A.B.
Mark Griffiths, A.B.
John Keefe, A.B.
Thos. S. Carmichael, A.B.
John Woon, Sergeant of Marines
J. B. Farquharson, Corporal of Marines
George Parfitt, Private of Marines
Elias Bow, Private of Marines
James Biggs, Private of Marines (Rated Corporal, Apr. 15, 1853)
Thomas Bancroft, Private of Marines
Thomas King, Private of Marines
James Saunders, Private of Marines
Johan A. Mierching, [Miertsching, missionary and] Esquimaux Interpreter

John Calder spent five winters in the bitter, life-threatening cold of the Arctic. The crew was awarded with medals. Parliament awarded the crew 10,000 pounds, and John Calder was individually awarded a medal for "meritorious conduct."

In 1855, John Calder married in England and set sail again in the first year after returning home. This time, he sailed with his wife. But it was for the relatively calm trip to America. They initially settled in Chicago where he returned to his roots of butchering, feeding cattle and speculating. Then, in 1863, they moved from Chicago and settled in beautiful, balmy Kelly Township of Warren County, snuggled up next to Knox County. Our wandering adventurer took up farming and raising cattle on land that he purchased.

WARREN COUNTY - A western county, created by act of the Legislature, in 1825, but not fully organized until 1830, having at that time about 350 inhabitants; has an area of 540 square miles, and was named for Gen. Joseph Warren. It is drained by the Henderson River and its affluents, and is traversed by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (two divisions), the Iowa Central and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroads. Bituminous coal is mined and lime stone is quarried in large quantities. The county's early development was retarded in consequence of having become the "seat of war," during the Black Hawk War. The principal products are grain and live-stock, although manufacturing is carried on to some extent. The county-seat and chief city is Monmouth. Roseville is a shipping point. Population (1880), 22,933. (1890), 21,281; (1900), 23,163.

Illinois is a long way from the Arctic, or even an ocean. Do you suppose that the itch to sail the ocean returned to him on the wing of a warm spring Prairie Breeze? Perhaps. Or perhaps the wind blowing across the prairie grasses was enough.

Chicago Daily - Sunday January 18th 1891, p. 26


John Calder, Who Farms Down Near Alexis, Has had Many Strange Experiences -- He Was with the Expedition that Discovered the Northwest Passage -- Memories of the Party That Went in Search of Franklin.

John Calder, a farmer living near Alexis, Ill., was with two Arctic expeditions sent out by the English Government in search of Sir John Franklin. For fourteen years before he settled in Chicago in 1855 Calder led a seafaring life. He is the son of a Somersetshire farmer, and after girdling the globe a time or two and taking a good look at the rest of humanity he returned to the occupation of his ancestors. Calder, if he were not buried in the obscurity of the quiet life he leads, would be famous for one thing at least. He is probably the only living man who has been around the Americas. The crew he was with on his second voyage was the first to make the trip, but they left the ship behind.

Capt. Robert J. L. M. McClure, the commander of her Majesty’s ship Investigator, which weighed anchor in Plymouth sound Jan. 20, 1850, with its consort the Enterprise, and spread its fresh sails for the Polar Sea by way of the Straits of Magellan, his Second Lieutenant, S.G. Cresswell, and the Surgeon, Dr. Alex Armstrong, discovered the Northwest passage from the summit of a hill on the north shore of Prince Albert Land, Oct. 10, 1850.

The primary object of the expedition in command of Capt. McClure was the relief of Sir John Franklin and his party. Two years previous the Investigator had sailed on a similar mission, with orders to proceed to Baffin Bay and enter the Polar Sea from the eastward. It was commanded at that time by Sir James Ross, but returned in 1849 without having found any traces of the lost explorer. The Investigator was built for Arctic service, and was a sailing vessel, bark-rigged, of 422 tons. It was especially fortified to cope with the ice. Its crew consisted of sixty-six men, all selected for their physical capabilities, great courage, and efficiency for an expedition of this character. Many of them had visited the frozen regions of the north more than once and fully realized the gravity of the undertaking. They were all volunteers.

On the memorable day when Capt. McClure and his officers from their high point of observation, discovered the route that England had desired, four on his men half-way down the ice-covered mountain were preparing a meal. One of the number, Captain of the forecastle, was John Calder. He probably is the only survivor of the crew. Capt. McClure died in 1873. The crew was rescued by her Majesty’s ships Resolute and Intrepid and reached England in 1854. A year later Capt. Calder, with his bride, sailed for America.

Capt. Calder at Home.

One cold afternoon last week a Tribune correspondent found the Captain comfortably seated by a bright fire in his pleasant home in Kelly Township, Warren County.

“It’s pretty cold,” said he, as he asked his visitor to take a seat by his inviting fire. “Not for a man who started out in earnest to find the North Pole, is it?” “O, that was forty years ago,” he replied, “and I have forgotten nearly all about it.

There is a good deal in what a man is used to. I have seen almost every kind of climate and I don’t know but what Illinois is as good as any. I first shipped when I was 21 for Australia and for ten years following I traveled pretty much all over the world. I struck a climate down in South America once that just about suited me, but the natives were fighting so much among themselves that there was no comfort living there and I got out. Guess they get along better now.”With the last expression the old man raised his other foot up to the fire. “You want to know something about my Artic exploration do you:” he said, after his shins and those of his visitor had been well toasted. “I ‘spose a good many things occurred up there you’d like to know about, but there’s a good deal that I don’t care to tell."

“My trip with Capt. McClure was kind of an accident. I’d been up in the Artic regions with Sir James Ross and hadn’t been back a great while when the McClure expedition was equipped. I didn’t hear a word regarding the sailing of the Investigator until just the day before she started. I (saw) a friend on the street who told me he had read in a London paper that another expedition in search of Franklin was about to leave. I went to London that night and found the ship next day at Woolwich. I shipped as Captain of the forecastle. We had everything that was supposed to be necessary for our comfort and convenience. We were well supplied with rations, clothing, and fuel. I remember one man, who had never been in the Arctic regions asked me what he should take with him. I replied: ‘All the moral courage you can get hold of.’ Next to food and raiment this is what a man needs most.

“I presume if I were to refresh my mind I could recall a good many incidents. I understand that several books have been written about this expedition, but I have not seen any of them. Early in the sixties I met a man in Chicago who was a member of the crew. Since that time I have not heard anything from any of the party except Capt. McClure whose death I saw chronicled in a Chicago paper. For all I know I am the only member of the Investigator’s crew who is now living. As you have probably read in the histories of the Investigator sailed for Baring Strait by way of the Straits of Magellan.

Our consort, the Enterprise, we soon lost sight of after striking the Pacific. There was little in the trip around South America that is worth mentioning. We hurried along as fast as we could for the Polar Sea. Capt. McClure and all the crew were very anxious to reach that latitude with as little delay as possible. I remember one morning along about the 1st of August we were off the northwest coast of Russian America when the Plover was sighted. She was an English vessel surveying along the coast. A heavy wind came up from the west and started the ice toward it. It was in imminent danger of being crushed, but we had no time to delay. All on board were ordered to bend their efforts to send our vessel onward.

“We cruised along past the Mackenzie River, and at Point Drew we touched shore. There we saw some Esquimaux, but found no trace of Franklin. We pushed along through the ice till we entered the Prince of Wales Strait.

“The ice about us rendered it necessary to be very cautious. This was in September and we soon discovered we were in a drifting pack of ice. Our position was hazardous. One night we came in contact with a large floe piece, which struck the starboard quarter, carried away a big hawser, and started all the anchors. We were in this perilous condition for several days, not knowing at what moment we might be crushed to death. The winter of 1850-’51 was spent in the strait near a small island.

Traveling Parties Start Out.

“The vessel had only been frozen in a short time when Capt. McClure organized the crew into three traveling parties. One of these went southward, the other went up Baring Island, and Capt. McClure’s party, with which I was connected, went northeastward on Prince Albert Land. I have slept under a tent many a night when the thermometer registered between 50° and 60° below zero.

“It was on this trip that Capt. McClure discovered the the northwest passage by observation. McClure was very ambitious to make this discovery, as he felt that it might prove an advantage to commerce. He was as brave a man as ever headed an Arctic expedition. No matter how intense the cold or how much he suffered, a word of complaint was never heard from him. These traveling parties often endured great hardships.

“You would hardly believe it, but I have cut holes in my boots to let the water through which we were traveling flow out and in to prevent it freezing around my feet. I remember an incident of another one of these traveling parties. We were proceeding along the northwestern coast of Banks Land and two of our men whose condition became very serious caused us to start back for the boat. On our way back we shot a polar bear. We at once removed the hide, and, as customary opened the stomach. A piece of court-plaster and a few raisins were all that it contained. These articles he had evidently got from civilized man and the question was whether he had picked them up from some other expedition. It was quite evident they had not been in the animal’s stomach very long. When we returned to the ship Capt. McClure sent out several fatigue parties, but after a day or two the investigation was dropped.

Perils in the Ice.

“That spring we started around Baring Island or Banks Land, passed Nelson Point, and cruised northward. One of our most dangerous experiences occurred just out of Burnett Bay on the west of Baring Island. The vessel was raised at one time eight or ten feet out of the water. About everyone on board concluded that his time had come. The ship got in an ice gorge but like other miraculous escapes we came out all right. We met with another narrow escape at Cape Austin, and in September we encountered a severe northwestern gale and drifted into Mercy Bay, doomed to spend another winter in the ice. It was probably the most perilous voyage made in the Polar Sea. During the winter we killed a few reindeer, wolves, and a musk-ox.

“It was the hope of Capt. McClure to have reached Melville Island before winter, but when circumstances forced the abandonment of this idea another traveling party was formed, headed by the Captain himself, and started for Melville Island. The party reached Winter Harbor after a journey of eighteen days, hoping to find one or more ships composing Capt. Austin’s expedition, but we were disappointed. Sir Edward Perry wintered here way back in teh winter of 1819-’20.

Relic of a Former Party

“I ran across a peculiarly-shaped rock. It was about eight feet high and almost square. On the top of the rock I found a flat tin case containing a record of a visit of a party under command of Capt. McClintock June 6, 1851. The record stated where the Austin expedition wintered, and said that a depot of provisions had been established at Cape Spencer, distant nearly 600 miles. There was not a word about Franklin or any information regarding our long-lost consort. The expedition we supposed, had returned to England, as we afterward learned it had, and the Investigator was the only vessel in Arctic regions at that time. We left a dispatch in the tin box when we returned to our ship.

“By the beginning of 1853 we were getting to be in pretty bad shape. Our provisions were getting short and we had been troubled a good deal with scurvy among the men. On the 5th of April the first death occurred. John Boyle, an able seaman died from dysentery, and the melancholy occurrence depressed the spirits of the crew to an alarming extent. I tell you things looked pretty bilious. The next day I was in the hold getting ready to go on duty on the ship, when I heard the greatest commotion on deck. One of the men came running to me and told me that Lieut. Pim of the H.M.S. Resolute from Melville Island was aboard. There is no use for me to attempt to describe the feelings of that crew or the way the men acted. Their joy and gratitude were beyond expression. Lieut. Pim had come across from Melville Island on his sledge, drawn by five Esquimaux dogs and two men. On the arrival of the Resolute and Intrepid at Dealy Island, off Melville Island, the year before they found our record, deposited at Winter harbor by Capt. McClure in April, 1852. After the rest of a day or two Lieut. Pim and a party from our crew went to Melville Island, and June 2, at 6 p.m., two months later, the Investigator was abandoned and the entire crew was taken to the Resolute and Intrepid. For all I know the Investigator is still imprisoned in the ice in Mercy Bay.

Back to England.

“We wintered on the Resolute and Intrepid, and late the following spring sailed for England, and landed at Ramsgate Oct. 6, 1854. Our crew was clear around the Americas, and is the only crew that ever made the trip. It was a perilous undertaking. Up in that country one finds two months of winter and ten months of very cold weather. I don’t know what would have become of us if we had not been rescued just at the time we were. The question of rations was becoming a serious one. Game was scarce and hard to shoot. It is surprising how little subsistence those animals of the polar regions require. The bears get hold of a good many walruses, but reindeer and the musk ox have a slim chance. They seem to get enough, though. But it is a fight for life with every kind of living creature up there. Of course you see some beautiful scenery. The ice formations sometimes are simply grand. I suppose I have see the most beautiful things ever seen by any man. I refer to the aurora borealis. I couldn’t describe it.

Discomforts of the Explorers.

“Yes, we could tell the difference between night and day in the winter season and kept close track of the time. While it is pretty dark when it is daytime here there is a kind of dawn up there you can see to get around. A peculiar feature of Arctic life is the discomfiture one feels sleeping in the ship after having been out on a land expedition and having spent many nights on the ice. It is caused by the difference in the atmosphere. It is pretty airy sleeping under a canvas tent when the thermometer registers 60° below zero. The coldest I ever saw was 66° below zero, but it was when I was with Sir James Ross. We wore the same kind of clothing people do here, only it was heavier and more of it. The best overcoat I could Find was to make a garment out of this heavy ducking and line it with a heavy blankey. It kept out the wind and cold.

“Nature works some funny freaks up there. I have seen logs of wood 600 feet above the surface. This was up along the north shore of Banks Land. It was probably drift wood from the McKenzie and Copper Mine Rivers that had got mixed up in an ice gorge. We came pretty near getting boosted up a time or two ourselves, but it is a good big gorge that piles the ice 600 feet high.

Mrs. Calder, who is a well-preserved, motherly little woman of 60 years, tripped into an adjoining room, and in a bureau drawer where a number of sacred souvenirs are kept found a couple of medals, of which both are justly proud. One was given Mr. Calder by the English Government as a special recognition of his services, while each member of the crew received one similar to the other one. The inscription on the first is as follows:

Capt. Calder, as he is always called, is 70 years old, but is still rugged as ever.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Coast Guard cutter STORIS headed to scrap yard

USCGC Storis goes home.jpg
Attempts to save the Storis, once the longest-serving cutter in the U.S. Coast Guard, have failed and the ship will be stripped and sold for scrap metal.

On July 1, 1957, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Storis departed in company with USCGC Bramble and USCGC Spar to search for a deep draft channel through the Arctic Ocean and to collect hydrographic information.
 Upon her return to Greenlandwaters, the Storis became the first U.S.-registered vessel to circumnavigate North America. Shortly after her return in late 1957, she was reassigned to her new home port of Kodiak, Alaska.

The Storis will be towed Friday from California to Mexico, where it will be scrapped, KMXT reported ( ).

The ship was built in 1942 and served during World War II. After the war, the Storis patrolled Alaska waters, and called both Juneau and Kodiak home.

The Storis was decommissioned in 2007 and was auctioned by the General Service Administration last summer.

A nonprofit organization called Storis Museum attempted to save the ship from the scrapyard and turn it into a museum in either Juneau or where it was built, Toledo, Ohio.

"It's a sad day for all of us who worked all over the United States, people were working to save the Storis. Unfortunately a lot of history and a great museum potential will be lost here," said Joe Geldhof, a Juneau attorney and secretary for the group.

He said the organization doesn't fault the businessmen who bought the ship but does say the General Service Administration "botched the disposal. They didn't give nonprofits the opportunity to select the Storis before it was put on the scrap market."

He said the organization will take its remaining funds to memorialize the ship and the crew members who served, likely with high-quality, museum grade models of the ship in Kodiak and possibly Juneau.

"We didn't save the ship, but we're working now to try to remember everybody who served on it and memorialize, to the extent we can, a wonderful ship that served the United States and the Coast Guard and the citizens of our country well," Geldhof said.

Information from: KMXT-FM,
Read more here:

Read more here:

Portrush Ireland welcomes ‘one of the world’s greatest explorers’ - David Scott Cowper returns from 6th Northwest Passage

Robert Anderson pictured with Jane Maufe and David Cowper of the Polar Bound in Portrush Harbour. INCR42-157PL

HE’S regarded as one of the world’s greatest explorers and last week he sailed into Portrush for a couple of days.

Aboard Polar Bound, British yachtsman, David Scott Cowper, was the first man to sail solo round the world in both directions and was also the first to successfully sail around the world via the Northwest Passage single-handed.

His current expedition is his sixth voyage through the Northwest Passage on a challenging new route.

Over the years he has faced many dangers and delays including impenetrable pack-ice, leaks and the eventual sinking and salvage of his first boat.

In 1990 David became the first person in history to sail single handedly around the world via the Northwest Passage - a journey that took over four years.

His crossing in 2009 remains the first solo transit of the Northwest Passage in a single season and in 2012 he completed the first transit of the Northwest Passage via the McClure Strait, a route first discovered by Captain Robert McClure in 1851.

The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

The challenge of navigating this treacherous stretch of water and ice has attracted explorers for centuries, including Sir John Franklin whose entire expedition team of 129 men perished after getting trapped on the sea ice.

Roald Amundsen, along with a crew of six completed the first crossing of the passage in 1906 – the expedition took them three years.

In total David has completed five official Northwest Passages – four of them solo. The 2012 transit through McClure Strait was with Jane Maufe (GB) as crew, who has also accompanied him on the current 6th NW Passage expedition.

“This is quite an incredible journey,” said local historian Robert Anderson, who caught up with David and Jane when they docked at Portrush Harbour last week.

“This remarkable journey has taken him all the way from northern Canada and Alaska to Greenland and now Portrush.

“David was here a couple of years ago and I think his fantastic voyage of many, many thousands of miles deserves recognition.

“It’s great to have him in Portrush.”


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Why do boats float? Vessel stability for the common guy

Click to learn about vessel stability...

Prepare for the worst case scenarios in Alaskan waters

Rescue highlights the importance of being prepared for worst case scenarios in Alaskan waters

Posted by PA1 Shawn Eggert, Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Good Samaritans aboard the 98-foot Seattle-based fishing vessel Aleutian Beauty, responding to a Coast Guard issued urgent marine information broadcast, rescue five uninjured fishermen from a life raft in the Bering Sea off the Alaskan coast Oct. 20, 2013. The mariners set off their emergency position indicating radio beacon, prompting a Coast Guard response, and abandoned ship into the life raft from the 59-foot Kodiak-based fishing vessel Western Venture after it caught fire 69 miles west of Adak. U.S. Coast Guard video by Air Station Kodiak.

Anyone who has plied the waters of Alaska can attest to the many dangers facing mariners, and the rescue of five crewmen aboard the fishing vessel Western Venture, Oct. 20, has cast new light upon the importance of being prepared and the benefit of a Coast Guard presence in the Aleutian Islands.

The incessant chirping of a personal location beacon followed by a second signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon rang out across the airwaves heralding the peril aboard the Kodiak-based Western Venture when the vessel caught fire approximately 69 miles west of Adak, Alaska. The signals were detected by Coast Guard watchstanders at the 17th District command center in Juneau who quickly alerted Air Station Kodiak personnel forward deployed to Cold Bay and issued an urgent marine information broadcast requesting assistance from any nearby vessels.

While good Samaritans aboard the fishing vessel Aleutian Beauty and crews from the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche and Air Station Kodiak rushed to the scene, the crew of the Western Venture donned their immersion suits and escaped to a life raft. To their credit, the vessel’s EPIRB was properly registered with the Coast Guard and that this small, but significant, detail, helped lead rescuers right to the vessel’s location.

“This case illustrates the importance of not only having an EPIRB, but properly registering it to provide rescuers with vital information to aid in the response,” said Lt. Colin Boyle, a search and rescue controller with the 17th District command center. “The PLB and EPIRB alerts were our first and only indication of this maritime emergency.”

The rescue of the Western Venture’s crew not only illustrated the wisdom in keeping proper safety equipment aboard a vessel and knowing how to use it, it also highlighted the value of the Coast Guard’s forward operating locations in some of Alaska’s more isolated and active maritime regions. 

A Coast Guard Air Station MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew deployed in Cold Bay diverted from a training flight near Dutch Harbor to medevac a 26-year-old male who reportedly suffered head injuries aboard the 58-foot fishing vessel Cape Reliant 55 miles northeast of Dutch Harbor at 4:20 p.m., Nov. 9. Webster was transferred to Dutch Harbor at 5:05 p.m. where he was then transferred to Guardian flight service and flown to Anchorage for further medical care. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley.

The forward operating locations, which are stood up during times of increased maritime activity throughout the year, allow the Coast Guard to expand and enhance our ability to respond to emergencies in Alaska’s most remote areas. The FOL in Cold Bay opened Oct. 14 with the intent of ensuring Coast Guard personnel can assist fishermen working in and around Bristol Bay, the Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands during the winter fisheries season. In addition to responding to the fire aboard the Western Venture, personnel at FOL Cold Bay conducted two medevacs within four days of deploying to the area.

“We recognize the danger posed by the harsh Alaska maritime environment and the nature of essential work being done statewide,” said Capt. Daniel Travers, chief of incident management, Coast Guard 17th District. “Establishing forward operating locations during peak seasons of maritime activity greatly reduces the time it takes to respond to emergencies from Kodiak and allows us to save lives.”

The successful rescue of the Western Venture’s crew owes much to the timely response of the Coast Guard and good Samaritans but, without the preparedness of the vessel’s crew, responders may have had a much more difficult time locating the men. Mariners are reminded to ensure they have required emergency equipment aboard their vessels, to register their EPIRBS and to conduct emergency drills at least once a month. Vessel owners and operators are also encouraged to get their free dockside commercial fishing vessel safety exams.

Exams are available by calling Coast Guard Sector Anchorage at 907-271-6700, Coast Guard Sector Juneau at 907-463-2448 or the nearest Coast Guard marine safety detachment. More information about fishing vessel safety and the associated regulations is available at

For more information about the rescue of the Western Venture’s crew, please click here.

For more information about FOL Cold Bay, click here.

- See more at:

Alaska weather gets double kick from Orient typhoons - batten down the hatches and seek a safe port of refuge


October 24, 2013

Forecast for October 25-28th
And the wind and waves forecast

Today Oct 23rd...

Here it comes (again)!

 Double punch!!!

Historic ship moored at Maritime Museum - North Star of Herschel Island: Sailed with St. Roch in Beaufort Sea

Re: This day in history, Oct. 16 Thank you for recognizing the RCMP's St. Roch and her historic doubling of the Northwest Passage in 1944. Sun readers will be happy to learn that another historic vessel, Canada's Arctic tall ship, North Star of Herschel Island, has arrived in port and is moored at the Vancouver Maritime Museum's Heritage Harbour.

North Star of Herschel Island and St. Roch sailed the Beaufort Sea together and their captains, Henry Larsen and Fred Carpenter, were the best of friends. North Star was Inuit-owned and used primarily for transporting the winter's catch of fur to market, but she was also commissioned during the Cold War by the Canadian government to assert Canadian Arctic sovereignty at the entrance to the Northwest Passage.

Subsequent adventures included surveying the controversial B.C./Alaska boundary; sounding for oil deposits; sail-training for Inuit and a Cambridge University scientific charter to search for mermaids off of the Aleutian Islands.

A new book about her history has now been published. Farley Mowat calls it, "one helluva book about one helluva ship," and former prime minister Jean Chretien reviews it as "an important book that every Canadian should read."

In 1935, at the height of the Great Depression, two Canadian Inuit fur trappers ordered the largest private sailing ship ever delivered to be used in transporting their annual catch of fur to Herschel Island on the MacKenzie Delta in exchange for the supplies that they needed to survive another winter hundreds of miles north of the Arctic Circle. Three times she did not make it into port in time and was frozen solid into the ice. This is the story of one of the most historic ships in Canada, who under three owners faced many challenges including; holding land at the entrance of the fabled NorthWest Passage to protect Canadian Arctic Sovereignty, was used in sail-training for Inuit, surveyed the controversial B.C./Alaska border and was chartered to search for mermaids off of the Aleutian Islands. North Star of Herschel Island is now a familiar sight on the Victoria, B.C. waterfront and a regular participant in Classic Boat and Tall Ship Festivals. In 2005 she represented her country as the Canadian GoodWill Ambassador in an international gathering of Tall Ships. This is the true story of a remarkable ship and the people who have known and loved her.

R. Bruce Macdonald

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Monday, October 21, 2013

NOAA to End Printing Paper Nautical Charts

NOAA-certified Print-on-Demand partners will continue to sell paper charts

October 22, 2013

Electronic navigational charts are increasingly popular with commercial pilots around the world.

NOAA's Office of Coast Survey, which creates and maintains the nation's suite of a thousand nautical charts of U.S. coastal waters, has announced major changes ahead for mariners and others who use nautical charts. Starting April 13, 2014, the federal government will no longer print traditional lithographic (paper) nautical charts.

Most mariners now use Print-on-Demand nautical charts that are up-to-date to the moment of printing. These charts will continue to be available from NOAA-certified printers.

Since 1862, those lithographic nautical charts—available in marine shops and other stores—have been printed by the U.S. government and sold to the public by commercial vendors. The decision to stop production is based on several factors: the declining demand for lithographic charts, the increasing use of digital and electronic charts, and federal budget realities.

"With the end of traditional paper charts, our primary concern continues to be making sure that boaters, fishing vessels, and commercial mariners have access to the most accurate, up-to-date nautical chart in a format that works well for them," said Capt. Shep Smith, chief of Coast Survey's Marine Chart Division. "Fortunately, advancements in computing and mobile technologies give us many more options than was possible years ago."

NOAA will continue to create and maintain other forms of nautical charts, including the increasingly popular Print-on-Demand (POD) charts, updated paper charts available from NOAA-certified printers. NOAA electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®) and raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC®), used in a variety of electronic charting systems, are also updated weekly and are available for free download from the Coast Survey website. NOAA announced a new product as well: full-scale PDF (Portable Digital Format) nautical charts, available for free download on a trial basis.

The world of navigation is benefitting from advances in technology, Smith explained. He said that NOAA will consult with chart users and private businesses about the future of U.S. navigation, especially exploring the use of NOAA charts as the basis for new products.

NOAA's Office of Coast Survey is the nation's nautical chartmaker. Originally formed by President Thomas Jefferson in 1807, Coast Survey updates charts, surveys the coastal seafloor, responds to maritime emergencies, and searches for underwater obstructions that pose a danger to navigation.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

VIDEO: Commercial Shipping in the Arctic


In the December 24th issue of the magazine, Keith Gessen wrote about the ice-class bulk carrier Nordic Odyssey, and its trip to transport sixty-five thousand tons of iron ore from Murmansk, Russia, to China via the Northern Sea Route—through the Arctic seas and down through the Bering Strait. There has been a drastic reduction in the extent and thickness of ice during the Arctic summer in recent years, and the Northeast Passage—for centuries an obsession of explorers, often with fatal results—could soon become an everyday part of merchant shipping. By the middle of this century, you may be able to traverse the Arctic in a canoe. See above for a video of the journey, and below for a slide show of photographs.









Saturday, October 19, 2013

S/V TRAVERSAY III crosses Gulf of Alaska with typical British dry wit


1. Outside Forward Locker: we remove the 2 large orange and 5 small fenders (used to protect us when tied to other boats or a dock) and stow them safely on deck so Larry can remove a SCUBA tank from the bottom of the locker; Inside forward Cabin: Larry removes his "wooly bear" underwear (used under the dry suit) from underneath the bed; Inside aft Equipment room: we remove his dive gear and suit
2. On deck we lie a-hull to stop the motion: Haul up lazy jacks; furl genoa sail; drop mainsail; disengage auto pilot so boat gradually turns broadside to the waves; steer rudder perpendicular to waves;
3. In the cockpit: cast off attached floating line [for safety]; assemble dive gear; Larry dons drysuit; we do an equipment check
4. Larry jumps into the water
5. AND:

ALL OF A SUDDEN: a huge Bull Kelp floats out from under the hull. It was attached in a few places by the stipe (B) which was caught on a zinc and also in the propeller. Our marine I.D. book <<Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest>> says that the "pneumatocyst (A) contains carbon monoxide and was used by coastal First Peoples as a storage container for water and fish oil." This float acted like a drum and was banging against the hull. We thought it sounded like a man-made lobster buoy! The kelp was only held in place by the motion of the boat, so once we stopped the motion it disentangled itself and floated out.

APOLOGIES: to Gulf fishermen for accusing them of leaving their gear lying around to entangle innocent sailboats!

Our book (produced by friends Andy Lamb and Bernhard P Hanby) goes on to state that the Bull Kelp is an "annual" and is one of the fastest growing plants in the world. It reaches its full size in June. It can grow to 20m (65 ft). This one did its job (giving a protective habitat for young fish and other animals).

It then decided to retire and go off-shore (just like us). And that's how we met. So we can hardly blame it!

At 19/10/2013 15:35 (utc) our position was 54°21.89'N 133°57.41'W

Fort Ross 'Guest Book' Volume I from 1980 to 2013

What is Fort Ross?

The Fort Ross trading post, on the northeast shore of Bellot Strait is situated on the southeast tip of Somerset Island. Fort Ross was established in 1937 and lasted for eleven years. Today the building has been refurbished and strengthened against bears, and acts as a refuge for researchers, hunters and crews of boats passing through. It is of particular interest by yachts and commercial cruise ships attempting a Northwest Passage to stop and sign the "Guest Register" while waiting on Bellot Strait tides, weather and/or ice on either side of Bellot Strait.

Fort Ross was the last trading post to be established by the Hudson's Bay Company.

Henry A. Larsen (explorer) reached it in 1942 aboard the 104 foot RCMPV St. ROCH, in the summer of 2006. The St. ROCH is a historic vessel available for viewing at the Vancouver Maritime Museum

Where is Fort Ross located on a map?

What does Fort Ross look like?

Who's names or vessel names might I recognize in the Fort Ross "Guest Book"? (I have not listed everyone... there are upwards of 95 pages of names... so here are the ones I recognize... lol)

Cruise ship M/V WORLD DISCOVERER 1986
David Scott Cowper single-handed in a 42 foot lifeboat M/Y MABEL E. HOLLAND 1988
John Bockstoce and crew in a 60 foot motor-sailer S/Y BELVEDERE 1988
Don Albright - McGill University Thule Archaeology Project 1991
Ramon Lamon - Greenland to Alaska by dogsled and kayak 1992
S/V DAGMAR AAEN 1993, 2004
Captain Stephen A. Gomes, CCGS HENRY LARSEN 1996
S/V OCEAN SEARCH and crew 1999
Susan Polischuk, Polar Bear Biologist 2000
S/Y APOSTLE ANDREW and crew 2002
Eric Brossier and crew S/V VAGABOND 2003
David Scott Cowper in 47 foot custom motorboat M/Y POLAR BOUND 2004, 2009 and a 6th NW Passage in 2013 via Fort Ross with Jane Maufe, fourth-great niece of Sir John Franklin
Arved Fuchs on S/V DAGMAR AAEN 2004
S/V PELAGIC AUSTALIS and crew 2005
Roger Swanson and crew S/V CLOUD NINE 2005
S/V NEKTON and crew 2006
S/V STARY and crew 2006
Gary Ramon single-handed on S/V ARCTIC WANDERER 2008
Thierry Fabing and crew on S/V BALOUM GWEN 2008, 2009
S/V SILENT SOUND and crew 2009
Chris Bray and Jess Taunton in S/V TELEPORT 2011-2012
Guy Lavoie and crew on BALTHAZAR 2012
Bob Shepton and crew on DODO'S DELIGHT 2012, 2013
The 1939 85 foot yawl S/V NORDWIND 2012
Owner and crew of M/Y BEOTHUK 2012
Frank Rothwell and crew on S/Y UPCHUCK 2012
Peter Garden and family on S/V TOKIMATA 2012
Kristen and Kim on S/V SOL 2012
S/Y SCORPIUS and crew 2012
M/V SEA ADVENTURE and guests 2013
S/Y ACALEPHE and crew 2013
Jurgen and Claudia Kirchberger and crew on S/Y LA BELLE EPOQUE 2013
Jean Pierre and crew on S/Y ISATIS
Ali and Les Parsons and crew on S/Y ARCTIC TERN 2013
Eef Willems and crew on S/Y TOOLUKA 2013
Philipp Cottier family and crew on sailing cat LIBELLULE 2013
Lord Ashcraft of the House of Lords, Honored Guests and crew aboard M/V LADY M II 2013
Pelle Ivarsson and Peter Bonsirven on S/Y ANNA 2013

So sorry if I missed your name or vessel... drop me a message with a date and I'll look to see if I can find it and will make an edit above.

Click the thumbnails below to view individual scanned 'Guest Book' pages.

Note: All images are: 
COPYRIGHT © 2013 Douglas Pohl
Personal copies for non-commercial use are approved if you drop me an e-mail with a description of which images you are intending on using and how.

COPYRIGHT © 2013 Douglas Pohl

Email: douglas_pohl (at) yahoo (dot) com