Posts Tagged ‘North-West Passage’

The North-West Passage has been open more often than you think

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

From The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

A kind reader has sent us the following historical update on the history of the North-West Passage -

Regarding the North-West Passage,┬ásince the 1942 expedition by Henry Larsen the passage has been navigated on a number of occasions, several times by unaided yachts without icebreaker assistance. This is in contrast with sensationalist news in 2007 that the passage had been open “for the first time in history.”

In 1977 the Belgian sailor Willy de Roos and his steel ketch Willywaw became the third yacht to go through, largely single-handed. (more…)

Melt? Schmelt. Sailing the Northwest Passage in the 1940s

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

We are often told that the occasional opening of the North-West Passage in the Arctic is an indication of “global warming”, when in fact all it indicates is the well-known volatility of the Arctic climate.

Amundsen sailed through the North-West Passage in a sailing vessel in 1903. A reader has kindly sent us the following account of a Canadian supply-ship that sailed the North-West Passage in the 1940s.

The Arctic vessel St. Roch, built for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Force to serve as a supply ship for isolated, far-flung Arctic detachments, was also designed to serve when frozen-in for the winter as a floating detachment with its constables mounting dog sled patrols from the ship. Between 1929 and 1939, St. Roch made three voyages to the Arctic.

Between 1940 and 1942, St. Roch navigated the Northwest Passage, arriving in Halifax harbor on October 11, 1942. St. Roch was the second ship to make the passage, and the first to travel the passage from west to east. In 1944, St. Roch returned to Vancouver via the more northerly route of the Northwest Passage, making her run in 86 days.

The epic voyages of St. Roch demonstrated Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic during the difficult wartime years, and extended Canadian control over her vast northern territories.