In the Arctic Summer of 2001, a team of leading Irish
sailors and explorers will retrace the famous Northwest
Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
The Northwest Passage is marked with a trail of bleached
bones and lonely cairns built by the many expeditions that
sought this elusive channel to the Orient. Sea charts from
Baffin Bay to the Beaufort Sea record the names of the many
Irish men whose contribution to the navigation of the Arctic
Ocean is monumental. Place names such as Cape Crozier,
McClintock Channel, Cape Kellett and McClure Strait
commemorate their contribution to those who follow them to the
polar seas. The expedition will proclaim their deeds and
contribution to the Irish public regarding the navigation and
charting of the Arctic region from Greenland, the Canadian
Arctic coastline and Islands, to the Alaskan and Siberian
coast and islands.
The Irish expedition has constructed a modern aluminium
sailing boat built to meet the rigours of the Arctic seas, to
a French design. The Vessel will be named Northabout, 49 foot
long, it will be powered by diesel engine. The boat is being
built by the team under the direction of boat builder Jarlath
Cunnane and will have its sea trials conducted off the Irish
west-coast in spring 2001.
The expedition will combine a modern small boat passage and
engagement with the polar environs, and the places and ghosts
of the lost Franklin Expedition of 1845.
The 7,800 mile voyage will start in Westport in June 2001
and end in Vancouver in the Canadian Pacific via Greenland,
Davis Strait, Baffin Bay, Lancaster Sound, Canadian and
Alaskan Arctic coastline and islands, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi
Sea and the Bering Strait.
Progress will be determined by sea ice once the expedition
enters the Arctic Ocean. In a very good ice-year, it may be
possible to complete the voyage in a single season, but if the
channel is closed in by ice it may take two or more. In this
event the expedition will haul up the boat on shore or moor it
in a safe bay, and then trek to the nearest settlement or
air-strip. The team will fly south by small plane, and home to
Ireland, to return a season later to continue the passage in
the Arctic summer.
3.6 inflatable dinghy and 8 horsepower
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