Bob Shepton.

Expeditions 2013

Arctic - The Shortest Way Back


It was a more difficult year than in 2012 in the Arctic and in the North-West Passage, this summer. We were held up by ice and had to battle against strong winds.
We started late (July 30) because crew member Rich had battles of his own getting an American visa. After leaving Nome, we had to wait off Point Hope for nine days to let strong contrary north winds pass through. We then motored against the wind all the way along the north Alaskan shore, sheltering for two days in a gale ‘behind’ Barter Island.
Five-man crew on board
No engine oil or propane gas were available in Tuktoyaktuk. The mayor finally found us a 5 gallon drum of synthetic oil (we really needed manual oil) at a huge price! We threaded through 2/10ths ice on both sides of Bathurst peninsular, passing through Snowgoose Passage to finally make it to Cambridge Bay, having deployed our underwater camera to film the fauna and flora of the seabed on the way for Stuart Anderson and his Consultancy. He wrote a learned paper about it afterwards. Thankfully Victoria Strait and Bellot Strait were open, but we were held up for eight days at remote Fort Ross by ice and wind.


Man standing on ice with another man underneath


It was getting late – were we going to get iced in? Fortunately, a short window finally opened, and we made it through the ice and out to the east side of Prince Regent Inlet, where we rode out another gale.
Having made it to Lancaster Sound, we went 50 miles south to Arctic Bay to avoid another gale, and then rode out another in Tay Bay. We reached Pond Inlet and continued down to Clyde River past huge ice shelves off east Baffin, and so across to Aasiaat, where we left the boat for the winter. I believe we were the first GRP boat, and sailing boat, to traverse the North-West Passage twice, and certainly in consecutive years.
I was deeply honoured to receive the Yachtsman of the Year Award 2013 after the double transit.
Wake of the boat in icy water